Costumes have been a major part of who I am. I’m not referring to the existential sense of the masks we wear to the different aspects of the world around us, I mean costumes in general. Of course we start with the standard growing up and being a part of Halloween. We are rewarded by the fact that we are wearing a costume and going up to strangers to get candy. It’s the one night of the year we get to break the cardinal childhood rule of never taking candy from people you don’t know.
From this early rebellion of flaunting the rules to working at a haunted house in my early twenties, it’s been about the fact that we enjoy who we are. It’s not about the judgement of others outside thinking that we are weird. It’s about not caring about that. It’s the celebration of self expression that few know, because most of those people do it on a lark, or so they can wear “sexy” costumes at the appropriate time – and only the appropriate time.
For someone who has done tons of costumes during my time at the haunted house, the appropriate time is murky for me. Really, the appropriate time is for Halloween gatherings, appropriate parties, or whenever I feel like it. Decades ago when I wore a hat everyday, for December I changed this to a Santa hat. It wasn’t exactly for the Christmas season – it was my little costume of not caring to the rest of the world.
While I wish I had pictures of every single costume or outfit I’ve had through the years I figured I would showcase some from childhood and some from the last decade.
I attended a Christian school, so we didn’t really celebrate Halloween that I remember. However, there was a fall festival where we dressed up in outfits related to nature or America. This is me in third or fourth grade as Abraham Lincoln. Who knew back then that Abe would become a vampire hunter in books and movies thirty years later. Maybe I was just predicting the future and still being subversive.
Some other costumes I remember from my youth; C3-P0, Raggedy Andy, Ricky Racoon, a Vampire, then it starts to trail off on what I can remember.
This image was from the first year I was thinking that I was too old to trick or treat. I went as Billy Joel and my brother went as Jason Voorhees. This was the time that you are being told that you are too old to trick or treat. That Halloween is a time for children, and somehow you crossed a threshold where you aren’t anymore. I remember the last minute put something together that caused me to wear this outfit. I really think it was the last time I stressed over it though.
The acceptance of others and what you do is not the same of dealing with the acceptance of yourself. For someone in middle school, this is a big thing to come to grips with. I know many adults who struggle with this thought process today.
I think this was a year or two after Billy Joel. I was definitely in High School, because i had a suit. The gloves were from marching band. Looking at my brother this is probably my sophomore or junior year in school.
While I had many costumes working at the Haunted School House, this was the one I shaped by my final year. Vlad was a good alter ego after doing the “what am I going to do tonight” routine that many haunted house workers go through. I know his personality and age has screwed up my vocal cords where I couldn’t do his voice for long if I wanted to. I still have the outfit though 20 years later. That cheap hat and his sword cane are both in my office in reaching distance as I write this. The shirt and cape are down in my bedroom closet. The glasses are located in the sunroom. It’s all parts of the equation that was a big part of my life.
The last time I was in full Vlad costume was 2002 when a friend and I dressed up to work in a haunted house for a night in Eugene, OR. It was two thousand miles away from the haunted house that Vlad was born into, and it felt wrong. I found out that while I’m good at scaring people, it wasn’t the same. The Haunted School House was my home. I could never go home again, so I was done with haunting all together. I have friends that still do it, and good for them. It just isn’t for me because my home is gone and everything is would be hollow. Since 2002 I haven’t gone full Vlad again. I may have to dig it out for a Halloween party someday.
Now we enter into the dad years. My son has been Darth Vader multiple times. This was the second year he did it. My wife and I had decently expensive stormtrooper helmets and the rest of the outfit was cheaper, but we follow our sith master around faithfully as he collected candy.
This was my I don’t have anything planned. The equivalent to the Billy Joel from my school years. Throw on a Fez and call yourself Doctor Who.
Last year my son moved to Kylo Ren. Once again I pulled out the stormtrooper and guided the new sith master around the neighborhood.
This was my outfit for the Halloween Party last year. I went full Captain Morgan. I love this costume. Originally I was going to reuse it again this year. However, I decided to go in a different direction. Also this costume is not the most comfortable thing in the world. I remember the days I wouldn’t have needed a wig to have that hair.
Finally I have this picture from the halfway to Halloween party in the spring. This was actually a trial run for the outfit I was going to wear to the George Clinton concert. The pants did not survive the concerts since I had to split the back (they were a Goodwill purchase) to be able to get into them.
What’s that mean for this year? I have something purchased and setup, of course I may change it at the last minute. So many ideas, so many thing I have, so much to do. We shall see. One thing I do know, I’m never too old dress up.