2008 Halloween Story Contest : Showcase : Misconceptions
Halloween Creative Writing Story Showcase
By Renate Smith
Disguises are rampant among artists. We don fedoras almost as often as sackcloth, and with the same amount of panache. Venetian masks are reserved for flights of fancy. Tweed is simply reserved. And, with the autumnal stirrings starting to flutter, masquerade becomes ever more enticing. As artists, we are drawn to the charade even as we strive to be honest. You see, honesty is very crucial to the artist. It is what makes us substantial and not just the soup de jour or the blue light special. Underneath the icing, what are you? Are you silky ganache, trusty nougat, standoffish divinity? Perhaps you are nutty marzipan or fruity turkish delight. Do you cater to a refined palate or do you offer bites to all who inhabit the soup kitchen? Are you the imitation cheese spread masquerading as gouda or are you the solid core of a fantastical notion?
To be utterly honest, I must say that disguises have failed me miserably. I put my faith in conjuring up costumes and it has driven me to disaster and near insanity. The first misinterpretation came when I was merely ten years old. I longed to be "Annie." I had an unnatural devotion to the orphan, probably bordering on stalking. In fact, I was able to coerce my mother into getting me in to see the film three times in one weekend. And still, I wasn't satiated. I wanted to actually inhabit her spirit, rather like a pod person. So, my mother, who was a seamstress, constructed the costume I was to wear. It had all of the accoutrements except one. The belt was not pure white. It had a block of intrusive blue inside the buckle. It is my speculation that this oversight is what cost me in the end. The mockery was substantial. I heard murmurings of "Raggedy Ann" like some sick mantra. Some were bold enough to say it directly to my face. And, of course, I had to be "lady-like" (what a revolting phrase) and pretend I didn't hear them. Inside, I was percolating with fury as red as my curly wig. I was a dancer, an actress, a singer, and I was being denigrated, compared to a mere doll. I could have belted out a few tunes, but what was the point? This did not dilute my delusions of grandeur, however. I continued the charade for three more years. I owe this fervent optimism to the little orphan who inspired it. "Tomorrow" indeed.
My knack for conjuring up confusing costumery continued. I vowed to create something wholly original and, at the same time, recognizable. I didn't realize that this was an impossibility. Bringing something to fruition from my overheated brain was akin to a llama laying an egg. The vision could be strong and bursting with good intentions. Still, I could not duplicate it in costume form. My disguises would disintegrate once they ventured into the world. I remember another attempt as particularly painful. I had developed a penchant for pierrots, those beautifully pensive clowns from France. Once, again, I employed my mother for help with the design. This time, I was pale and primped. I had a gigantic, Napoleonic hat suctioned to my head. One small, glittering tear was painted beneath my eye. I hadn't suspected the utter confusion that greeted me. As something of an afterthought, bystanders had deemed me foodstuff. They took me to be a giant tortilla. I was tempted to dip my head in hot sauce and allow people to nibble. This time, I slumped away, thwarted, and determined to clarify my intentions the following year.
I came, again, with yearnings for a Utopian holiday. I decided on Joan of Arc. I gathered together a smattering of twigs and made a "sash" out of them. I then proceeded to smudge my face with "charcoal", a darkly sly joke I thought Joan might approve of. Well, the twigs were mistaken for arrows. It was too dark to see my cosmetic scorch marks. It turns out people had decided I was an unkempt Robin Hood. Now, don't get me wrong, I lust for Robin Hood, I truly do, but this was clearly Joan's night. At this point, I was wishing I had brought real arrows. It seems I have a rather vengeful nature. I suppose both icons like dabbling in warfare, so I was right on target (I can't resist a good Robin Hood joke).
One of the last times I even dared to get dressed up was when I was a wood sprite. I was wearing a brown ensemble, with autumn leaves pinned all around. Wings might have been a tip-off, but it seems that was the one thing I forgot. Strange how often we forget the essentials. Initially, I thought I'd noticed a look of recognition, but my buoyancy was rapidly popped. The familiar, quizzical stare surfaced. I had elicited a flummoxed reaction once again. "I know who you are!!! Bacchus, pour me some wine!!!" Well, at least this case of mistaken identity was literary. The gender misidentification is still a sore spot. I soothed myself to sleep with the very flask of wine I did not possess.
This year, I'll have dalliances with ideas for costumes. One of my favorites so far is a voodoo doll. I'm not quite sure how I'd go about sitting, but, in theory, the idea truly rocks. Again, vengeance is the theme. But, in the long run, I'd rather cavort and be merry without worrying about my grease paint smearing or my wig falling off. Misinterpretations of art will always abound as well as fluffy, insubstantial work. What can you do? I think I'll nix the fedora and put on my galoshes. •
© 2008 Renate Smith