It’s that time of year again. Time for candy and costume-making. Pumpkins, goblins, Jell-O shots, Jungle Juice. That’s right. It’s Halloween. The holiday that pretends to be for kids, but is really for party-hungry adults. While your kid is dressing up to be a ninja, or a Jedi Knight, or that dude from Big Hero 6 (just get a huge, white trash bag and cut eyeholes), you are out to be a blood-sucking zombie, or an impaled surgeon, or a sexy kitten, maybe even a living-dead version of Christopher Walken.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll wait until two hours before your first party to figure out what you want to be this year. Just paint your face white and throw on some blood, or put on your old football jersey from high school, then draw black lines under your eyes. Get a white sheet and wrap yourself in it, like a toga, then grab a paper tablet for Commandments and wala, you’re Moses. (You could even write your own Commandments: I. Thall shall not throw-up all over the balcony). One year, I thought I was clever. I wore a pot on my head all night and called myself a pot-head, unsuccessfully. Most people thought I was Johnny Appleseed. Epic fail.
Well, if you’re as last-minute and desperate as I’m known to be, and you have no other ideas this year, dress up for Halloween as your favorite writer.
One of the coolest costumes I’ve ever seen was of a writer. A guy in full Hunter S. Thompson regalia, complete with the safari hat, Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, and cigarette holder. He even did the walk—that strange, walking-on-glass strut, that would have impressed Johnny Depp. It was hilarious. Everyone loved it. Which, then, lead me to wonder. What other writers could work as Halloween costumes?
The options are endless. Buy a large, fake beard and dress like a hippie, and hey, you’re Allen Ginsberg. Get a fisherman’s hat and vest, carry a fishing pole and tackle box, and look, you’re Ernest Hemingway. Grow a thin mustache, get a black top-coat, and wear a toy raven on your shoulder, you’re Edgar Allan Poe. Ladies, get an old vintage one-piece dress, plain and low to the ankles, and carry around paper and some envelopes, and there you have it, Emily Dickinson. There is no shortage of interesting possibilities by which to choose from. Franz Kafka, who dressed in swim attire while regularly attending nudists’ camps in his day, became known as “the man in the swimming trunks.” So, if you have a pair of old, high 1920s swim shorts (the ones with pin-stripes and a matching top) lying around, there’s that.
Apparently, the novelist J.R.R Tolkien, thought it was Halloween all the time. He dressed up occasionally as a Viking warrior, and chased his neighbor with an axe. That could work. Better yet, you could be a dead version of James Joyce and creepily walk around, repeating his last words: “Does nobody understand?” You could steal an antique British World War II pilots’ uniform, complete with necessary badges, from your local Salvation Army, and there you go, you’re the fighter pilot, Roald Dahl. Be a witch and say you’re Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great-great grandfather, who was present at the Salem witch trials. Or, somehow dress up as a huge space rock and be Kurt Vonnegut. Not the famous writer, of course, but the not-so-famous asteroid in space, named after him.
Couples costumes allow for even more creativity. Add a bloody gunshot wound to your dates’ abdomen, wear a top-hat and carry your pistol, and pow, you got William Burroughs. Make a friend look like a rotting dead corpse in a morgue, and watch them with a magnifying glass, and you have a creepy Charles Dickens. Writers can be some scary monsters sometimes. And, with all the missed deadlines, coffins of unpublished work and cob-webbed living conditions, what would you expect? I wonder how you could do someone real Halloween-ish, like Stephen King. (Especially now that killer clowns are back in the news.)
So. If it gets to be crunch-time, and you’re digging through your basement, going through old clothes and costumes to throw together, why not just dress up as your favorite writer for Halloween. And, instead of trying to make Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on the spot, just be Mary Shelley.
Spider cupcake, anyone?
Mario J. Montoya is a writer, UNM Creative Writing student and reader for Blue Mesa Review. When not reading or writing, he makes music, competes in rap battles, and hangs with his Pitbull Mia.