October 25, 2005

"What are you supposed to be?"

I have been invited to a Halloween party. I feel like Charlie Brown, doing a little dance in front of Violet, happy that somebody invited him to a party. Then she tells him that he was supposed to be on the not-invite list, and he gets all sad. I hope I’m not on that list. Wow… I just got how cruel that is. How come we’re not allowed to see nipples on public broadcasting, but we can expose children to cartoons celebrating emotional abuse? So wrong. Anyway, there will be costumes, boozing and a few people I know from work, and a bunch that I don’t know at all. I’m not a big partier, so it’ll be weird for me. I’m sure the alcohol will loosen things up.

I saw the invite and immediately thought, “Oh, man—which costume am I gonna wear?” As you know, I am a big geek who could sew since she was five, and I have amassed rather a large costume closet throughout the years and years of Halloweens… Hallows-ween? How do you pluralize that? Anyhoo, every year we have a big party at my Mom’s house, with a costume contest and ‘scary food’ and whatever, and this year I had planned to go as Rosie the Riveter, since my brother has the coveralls and I am skint. While this is going to be considered really cool at my Mom’s Halloween party, I don’t know if it’ll be as cool in front of a bunch of drunken twenty-five year-old boys. I think I’ll look like a nerd if I try to explain what I’m supposed to be, and if I just let everyone think I’m a mechanic with a funny headscarf, I’ll be too boring. Either way, it’s awkward, and I’ve been to enough parties where I was the weird girl. So, that one’s out.

I asked my aunt’s opinion. Without missing a beat, she says “The bellydancing one.” Yeah, OK. Here’s where I tell you that I have a bellydancing outfit. It’s not really a costume, it’s an outfit—as in, I have actually bellydanced in it. It is reinforced and has beads and a hip scarf and everything, and I spent a hell of a lotta time on it. It consists of a layered skirt, hip scarf, and a beaded bra. That’s it. Armbands optional. So you can understand my trepidation at the thought of wandering around a party with a bunch of drunken boys, both strangers and people I WORK WITH, with an exposed torso for six hours. Oh, and it’ll be forty degrees outside, AND I’ll be too self-conscious to eat, sit or breathe, but yeah, good choice. I don’t think so. Points for style, but COME ON.

I think I’ll go with my pirate costume I wore at the Renaissance Festival this year. It’s just the right mix of conservative and tarty, covers an acceptable amount of skin, and is a damn sight warmer than the bellydancer outfit. I’ll have to pick up a pirate hat and some feathers—I lost my hat some years ago. Still dithering on the leather bustier. Depends on the crowd. Maybe I’ll keep it conservative.

Since we’re speaking of the holiday, I would now like to post a rather heated dispute with my sister about whether or not you can “borrow’ someone else’s costume idea. I love posting my family’s arguments, because it gives me a chance to get outside opinions on the matter without having to retell the story fifty damn times. So, the backstory: We have, as you know, a huge family Halloween party at our house every year, with food, music, games, and a costume contest. My sister wants my input on a bunch of costume ideas, which she has all typed out on a list. They are mostly cliches, like Kiss of Death (Hershey’s Kiss costume with a robe and scythe), and they’re fairly inventive. The list has a step-by-stepper on how to make them, includes all the little bits you need to buy, and suggests accessories and variations. I am a tad suspicious that maybe these were not my sister’s own original material. Here’s how it went down: (As usual, I will protect the identities of all parties. My pigheaded older sister, with whom I am arguing, will be known as Leslie. My younger sister shall be Melanie, because she reminds me of that particular character in Gone with the Wind.)

BEEDOO: (reading list) These are pretty funny.
LESLIE: Yeah, I was thinking about doing the Operation one.
BEEDOO: Wait—where did you get these?
LESLIE: Online.
BEEDOO: Um… OK.
LESLIE: What? They’re funny.
BEEDOO: So, what, did you just Google ‘Halloween costumes’?
LESLIE: Pretty much, yeah.
BEEDOO: Um, don’t you think that’s cheating, at all?
LESLIE: Why?
BEEDOO: Because it’s not your own idea?
LESLIE: Who says it has to be?
BEEDOO: Well… it’s not written anywhere, but it’s a costume contest, so it’s implied that it should be your own work.
LESLIE: It will be—I still have to make it.
BEEDOO: That’s not what I mean. AND, it tells you how to make it. It’s not like you got the idea online and came up with how to do it on your own.
LESLIE: Would it be different if I had?
BEEDOO: A little bit, yeah!
LESLIE: I don’t see how. Anyway, I need a costume, and I couldn’t think of one, and these were funny, so I’m going to use one of these.
BEEDOO: Fine. But I think you should withdraw from the contest.
LESLIE: That’s BULLSHIT!
BEEDOO: Why? Everyone else thought up their ideas, planned out how to do it, then spent time making the costumes. You’re only sewing a little bit and taking credit for someone else’s joke.
LESLIE: You were Lucy last year!
BEEDOO: Um, so?
LESLIE: How is that an ‘original idea’? She’s a person! And Bruce and Jessica (my little brothers) were He-Man and Skeletor!
BEEDOO: Those are trademarks.
LESLIE: So how is that different?
BEEDOO: Because it is and you freaking know it. That’s why you called me in here to look at these. You wanted to know if it was OK.
LESLIE: WHAT, like I need you PERMISSON? Fuck you.
BEEDOO: Do whatever you want. I don’t care. I just don’t think you should be in the contest.
LESLIE: WHY NOT?!
(Melanie enters the room at this point.)
MELANIE: Um, you guys are kinda loud.
BEEDOO: Mel, I need you to back me up on this—
LESLIE: HEY! Don’t you get her on your side!
BEEDOO: OK, here are the unbiased facts: Leslie wants to make her costume off of this list. She got this list off the internet.
MELANIE: (pause) Yeah?
LESLIE: HAH!
BEEDOO: And she wants to enter the contest. (pause) Now, I know that you’re working a lot on your costume, won’t tell anyone what it is, and bought a ton of fabric and put a lot of effort into it. Now, would you be cool with it if Leslie won the contest?
MELANIE: …No.
LESLIE: WHAT?!
MELANIE: Sorry, Les. That’s hoed out.
LESLIE: What the fuck is wrong with you people?!
MELANIE: I see the point, here. I spent a lot of time on mine, so I’d be pissed if you won with someone else’s costume.
LESLIE: Whatever. This is bullshit.
BEEDOO: Do whatever you want, but if everyone knew you got it online, they probably wouldn’t vote for you.
LESLIE: Oh, and I suppose you’ll be telling everyone now.
BEEDOO: What? Jesus, that’s not even what I meant! If I got a costume online, or bought one off the rack, and I WON, I wouldn’t really feel good abut it. It’s not like I won because I was creative—I won because someone else was funny and I copied. It’s plagiarism!
MELANIE: (nodding) Yeah. Sorry, Les.
LESLIE: Fuck you guys. I’ll do whatever I want.
BEEDOO: Whatever. You asked.
LESLIE: Yeah, and I’m never asking your fucking opinion ever again!
(door slam)

So, as usual, I invite you to weigh in on the issue. I still think I was right, but I think I could have expressed it better. Melanie suggests that Les was just trying to get into the spirit and wanted me to back her up and help her out—and I sort of shat all over that. I’m sorry for it now, but I still don’t think it would be fair. Also, why in the hell is she doing this all last minute? She thought the holiday had moved, or something? There really isn’t an excuse for cheating, “Oh, I don’t have time to write a paper—I’ll get one off the internet.” How is it different? I don’t think it is.

Email me and set me straight. Or agree with me. Either one.

1 comment:

Meg said...

I'd say you're right on this one beedoo. The point of a costume contest is to win on your own merit. If it were just a costume party, on the other hand, I don't think it would make a difference.

I LOVE Halloween!!

ps. I'd consider adding word verification to your comments... gets rid of spam posts.