One time Monsignor Novicky at St. Greg’s asked me to help out at the parish carnival (I was a lowly seminarian) and I naively said, “Sure, whatever you want.”
“Oh really,” he said.
Unfortunately it was during the time when Barney the giant purple dinosaur was outlandishly, almost demonically popular. He walked me into a room where a bunch of padding, furry purple clothes, and an empty dinosaur head were sitting on a table. “Why don’t you put that on, walk around the grounds a little and give the kids a thrill.”
I hated Barney. But such is life.
I struggled into the costume that was obviously made for a smaller person and a teenager was assigned to guide me around since I could barely see and had almost already killed myself on a set of stairs. We stepped outside, (this is not an exaggeration) and I swear I took no more than two steps when kids from every single point on the compass turned like a pride of hungry lions picking up on the sent of raw meat and let out a collective roar of, “IT’S BARNEY,” abandoned their parents and came tearing across the grounds towards me. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.
Such is the power of getting dressed up. We get to be something we are not and afforded the chance to see a little bit what it might be like. (I now know I never want to be Barney.) Hence one may not simply get dressed up, but one must be dressed up as something they are not in every day life. For example, I may not go to a costume party dressed as a priest. But my best non-priest friend may. Although I suppose I could go as a Zombie priest.
Don’t you think the last thing Dracula or the Wolfman wants to be on Halloween is Dracula and the Wolfman? I bet even Superman and Wonderwoman want to be somebody else just one day. They probably put on T-shirts, jeans, and boat shoes and hang as just plain people.
There are some things that are still taboo. Prince William learned this not to long ago when he went to a costume party dressed as a Nazi. There are still lines that cannot be crossed easily. It put a certain fright into people who wondered, “Is this revealing something about the man inside the costume?”
Typically within an hour costumes and personas begin to be dropped for comfort and company sake. (It’s hard to eat a slice of pizza with a trident in your hand or to have the entire extent of your conversation with someone be about how you want to bite their neck.) Even Superman starts feeling naked without his cape.