What is it about a mask, some extra makeup or a wig that allows someone to forget who they normally are?
With the help of a black cape and a sword, a mere mortal can magically turn into a swashbuckling Zorro. Or, when feet slide into some ruby red slippers and heels click three times, Dorothy happily steps out of the past into the present, still in search of a yellow brick road. Saturday, if only for one day, all sorts of incredible transformations will take place, and I cannot wait to see all the clever Halloween costumes.
Living on one of the most popular streets for trick-or-treaters in Macon, I have been introduced to all kinds of celebrities and super heroes. During the past 16 years, I have met Marilyn Monroe, the queen of England, several living and dead presidents, Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman and both fat and thin versions of Elvis, to name just a few. Glenda the Good Witch has peacefully walked beside a green-faced wicked witch, and pirates and vampires have shaken hands.
Believe it or not, I have actually seen a grown man dressed as an “e-male,” while two children with the help of some paint and heavy cardboard have become life-sized bottles of ketchup and mustard. Not far behind them was a gigantic hot dog — complete with bun — in search of a bottled condiment.
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Bees and butterflies have buzzed in for a sweet treat and the Karate Kid has chopped his way into getting some candy. Snow White has made the scene with an apple in her hand and seven dwarfs trailing behind her. Believe me when I tell you, our street is filled with all kinds of creatures. Who knows who and what I will meet this coming Saturday?
Being an artist and designer, I have always been amazed at the types of costumes that can come to fruition when creativity merges with countless hours of labor. Pre-planning and original thoughts yield unbelievably realistic results. The days of just donning an old sheet with a couple of eye holes have slowly moved aside for a more, shall I say, authentic disguise. Simple is out; clever and well-executed are in.
Growing up, my sister and I could never afford one of those “store bought,” premade costumes. Instead, we had to rummage through our parents’ closets and bring out everything from old wigs to tattered clothing. We then broke into our mother’s makeup case and came out with red lips, black eyes and hand-drawn scars. Even though you could still tell it was us, in our minds, we were someone else.
A costume gives you some sort of magical power. It allows you to fly and lift heavy objects, all the while saving the world and scaring small children as well as elderly neighbors.
You can run through the streets screaming at the top of your lungs without any repercussions. You can behave in ways you never thought possible and, because of the costume, never give it a second thought. A costume becomes your armor and you feel invincible.
The magical thing about costumes is they are just as effective on adults as they are children. Or maybe they just have the ability to quickly transport adults back to their childhoods. Whatever power a costume possesses, for one evening each year on Halloween, almost everyone seems to be happy with whom they have become — especially when toting around a bag full of candy.
These days, costumes have even spilled over to encompass our beloved pets. Dogs and cats are transformed into almost anything the mind can conjure up. Every time I come upon a gussied-up furry friend, it never ceases to amaze me. Maybe I’m intrigued with who or what they have become. Or maybe it’s just the fact that the animal allowed its owner to dress them.
Apparently our dog, Georgie, has never been happy being anything other than what he is. He removes any costume we have ever tried to place on him. Like Houdini trying to free himself from a straitjacket, he wiggles, bites and squirms until the costume is in a pile and he steps over it with contentment written all over his face.
I finally convinced myself it was just as interesting watching him get out of his costume as it was seeing it on him.
Whether we really are a movie star, a comic book character or a former president of the United States matters little.
Because of a mere costume, we step out of our comfort zone and have the courage to be someone or something different, if only for one night. After all, the next day will bring us back to reality.
Maybe now we really know why Cinderella hated to see midnight come.
Have a happy and safe Halloween.
MORE WITH MARK
Ÿ Holiday Program, Nov. 3, 7 p.m. Martha Bowman United Methodist Church, Macon. Sponsored by Barrington Hall Garden Club. Mark shows new ideas for holiday decorating and entertaining. Tickets are $10. Call 474-1462 for reservations.
Ÿ Check out Mark’s Web site. Visit the recently updated www.markballard.com for current projects and recipes.
Ÿ Mark is on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.
Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208 or fax them to (478) 474-4930 or call (478) 757-6877.