By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Glam or gore? Scary or sexy? Future E.T. or really retro Renaissance?
It’s that time of year again. Time to declare yourself, or maybe even reinvent yourself, if only for a day.
Or maybe several days. Costumes aren’t just a Halloween thing here in the Borderland. You’ll want to have something suitable for several occasions throughout a spectacular Full-tilt Costume Lovers Fiesta Weekend that starts with Halloween Friday and runs through Dia de los Muertos and RenFaire, both Nov. 1 and 2 this year.
Figure on a lot of pre-and post-parties, too. And election day is Nov. 4, so you might want to dress up as your favorite candidate while you’re waiting for election results.
After more than a decade on the local fiesta and costume beat, I shouldn’t be surprised anymore by the escalating gore. At Party World, you can even buy bloody simulated human body parts packed like meat in Styrofoam and plastic packages, and “French fry,” cartons filled with neat stacks of human fingers.
It seems that the scarier the times, the more frightening the Halloween costumes and decorations.
With prolonged wars on two fronts and more looming conflicts, the greatest economic dilemma in most of our lifetimes, devastating hurricanes, Midwestern floods, ecological disasters looming and burgeoning disease and food source contamination, just what can you do for a terrifying encore to very scary everyday life in 2008? Even hard-core gore seems somehow ho-hum this year. If you’re really serious about frightening others, maybe you should dress up as a salmonella-contaminated pepper or a stock market chart.
Or you could dress up as an crumbling bank building or failed brokerage house for a really scary Halloween party and add some angel wings or a skeleton mask to take your getup through to Day of the Dead celebrations.
But I predict that there will be a move away from extreme gore and a rush to creative escapism for all ages during this dress-up season.
And I have not been surprised by the national trend that finds more adults dressing up. By now, I’m used to seeing grown, otherwise macho Las Cruces men parading around in tights and suits of armor, accompanied by women in elaborate Renaissance gowns. And I’ve made many processions to local cemeteries accompanied by whole families in calavera (skeleton) drag, during Dia de los Muertos events.
There is something quite comforting in contemplating escape to that ultimate Better Place (presuming we’re headed for heaven rather than hell, of course).
It’s also kind of soothing to spend a weekend at the Doña Ana Arts Council Renaissance ArtsFaire, ambling around Young Park imagining that we’re back in what many of us presume were kinder, gentler times, those proverbial Golden Days of Yesteryear. Of course, we tend to dwell on the fairy tales and celebrations of flowering European culture ... and ignore the realities like plagues, wars, routine torture and inquisitions, and other daily miseries that prompted so many of our ancestors to flee the Old World in search of a better life.
And there’s no denying the clothes were cute. Particularly if you were a member of royalty rather than a serf or pauper.
But hey, reality is what we’re trying to avoid here, isn’t it?
It’s the one time of year when you have the chance to be whatever you long to be, from a fairy princess to a giant M & M or an inflatable body part. There’s no accounting for tastes, and this time of year, you don’t have to, so there. If you’re so inclined, you can even transform your baby into a pea pod or a miniature Elvis and dress your cocker spaniel up as Zorro.
Remake the world in your own image, or remake your image to reflect the world you want, just the way you’d like it to be. Go for it.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org