31 October 2010

Halloween: Not In Costume

Happy Halloween!

It's odd for me to say that.  Halloween doesn't seem like one of those holidays on which you wish someone happiness, as you would on, say, Christmas or Hanukkah.  It's more of a day for just having fun, if your idea of fun consists of what people do on this day.

I'm not saying it's not fun, or that one should treat this as "just another day."  I enjoy, as much as anyone does, seeing kids--and adults--in costume, and I don't get annoyed, as I once did, over kids (or adults) yelling "Trick or Treat!" in my face.  

But I don't partake of the festivities.  Sometimes people who know that I'm trans  will assume that I'm going to the parade in some outrageous or clever costume.  The irony is that I marched (Can you march when you're dressed like a ballerina, as I once was?) down Sixth Avenue in the Village on several All Hallows' Eves--before my transition.

The first time I marched was my second Halloween after moving back to New York.  That was when I went as a ballerina:  I saw the tutu in the window of an old, pre-gentrification, Lower East Side store.  Surprisingly, it fit me well.  Perhaps even more surprisingly, that store had a pair of pink ballet slippers that fit me and matched the tutu. 

After marching, I went bar-hopping in the Village with a couple of marchers.  On Seventh Avenue, a couple of doors from the old Vanguard, I came face-to-face with a Rutgers classmate whom I hadn't seen since our graduation four years earlier, if I remember correctly.

Fortunately for me, he and his buddies were drinking at least as much as the marchers and I.  Even more fortunately, neither he nor his mates were violent drunks.  "Hey Nick," he howled mirthfully.  


"Don't worry.  Tonight's about having fun," he yelled.  Then, he introduced me to his friends--about whom I cannot recall their names, or much else--and slurred, "Nick here, he's cool."  He wrapped his arm around my shoulder. "I know.  I love him like my son. I raised him!"

"And look how I turned out."

His friends laughed.  He squeezed me.  "You're great.  I admire you."

Until tonight, I hadn't thought about that night.  Twenty-six years have passed since then.  That's how many years I'd lived up to that night.  

I have no idea of where he is now, or what he'd think of me--or I of him--if we were to meet again.  All I know is that it would be the first time he'd be seeing me when I wasn't in costume.  

There are lots of people who only knew me in costume.  I'm not talking only about vestments, of course.  But Halloween celebrations are about them--about "dressing up," as some people say.

I like to wear nice clothes.  Some days I really try to look good.  But it all feels authentic to me, so I don't feel as if I'm "dressing up."  And I certainly am not putting on a costume, or have any desire to do so.  That is the reason why I don't celebrate Halloween as some other people do.  Perhaps some year I will join in the festivities.  But, right now, wearing a costume doesn't interest me: My own skin is just beginning to fit me.