By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Fiesta camouflage.
It’s the time of year when you can slip on a pair of feathery angel’s wings and still go relatively unnoticed in the right crowd.
Donning an outfit festooned with bones and a macabre skeletal mask will generate smiles — maybe even joy and a pat on the back. After all, you’re demonstrating a kind of Dias de los Muertos patriotism, Borderland civic pride.
During FTFS (Full-tile Fiesta Season), costumes are practically a necessity for all ages and every member of the family, including infants and good-sport dogs and cats.
With a nod to tough times, we’re noting in today’s story that you can pick out a few relatively inexpensive accessories and build a costume, based on, say, clown shoes or goofy glasses.
Grandson Alexander the Great proved you might even get by with what’s already in the closet.
During his recent visit, he disappeared for a few minutes and came back in full regalia. Over his jeans and T shirt, he’d layered a long, midnight blue robe, with a leather vest embossed with a horse head, and topped everything off with a star-spangled, pointed hat from the costume closet and an old light saber from the saber and wand jar.
“I’m a cowboy wizard,” he announced, skulking mysteriously around my adobe patio walls and posing for a picture which he made me promise not to use. (Shortly thereafter, he turned 13, and I sense that the time has come when I shouldn’t share even his most creative antics in print without his permission.)
And I realize not all households have wings hanging on the wall, a saber and wand jar, and a costume closet. In fact, the costumes have now taken over most of the hall closet and the gift closet.
Maybe, I’ve been thinking lately, I don’t really need that giant Dilbert head mask, elasticized slip-on bird beaks and all those masks (at last inventory, the stock included a dolphin, a crow, King Tut, a few kachinas and two ETs).
And the hats. A fruit and flower covered Carmen Miranda chapeau. A little silver cap bristling with pipecleaner lightening bolts. Cowboy hats in every style from vintage Stetson to white lace and a brand new acquisition covered with a brightly-colored Mexican striped serape in a style I call fiesta camouflage.
Hmm. Actually the cowboy hats are year-around everyday wearable here, I reassure myself. And I did have the best King Tut mask at the Branigan Cultural Center’s King Tut exhibit opening a few years ago. And everybody still enjoys posing for pictures in the Carmen Miranda hat.
But maybe I could let one of the pointed wizard hats go, though they all got a good workout when the cousins gathered this summer.
The point is, even if you don’t have a fiesta camouflage collection of your own, resourceful souls can work with what they have.
My favorite childhood costume was a Viking ensemble my art teacher mom conjured from rummaging around the house: a garbage can lid transformed into a dramatic shield with painted crosses and fleurs-de-lis, an old baseball shirt that became a tunic, and killer accessories that included a cardboard sword with a tinfoil blade and an impressive helmet made out of a stainless steel bowl from the kitchen with horns shaped from repurposed toilet paper rolls. The homegrown costume won prizes and was such a hit that my sister and brother and I all wore some version of it over the years.
And it’s hard to beat the classic, old-sheet ghost costume. All it takes are holes for eyes and respiration and a thoughtful accessory or two. Sunglasses, gold chains and an upscale baseball cap for a rapper ghost. Sewn-on dangle earrings and maybe an old designer sheet for a glam ghost. A battered cowboy hat, boots and a star badge for a old-time cowboy sheriff ghost.
You get the idea. It’s not the big bucks you invest, but the thought that counts, when it comes to creative fiesta camouflage.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org