Yale is a brain-eat-brain world. We think to survive, wrack our consciousness to clarify slight nuances in class or exhume an elusive point yet to be made over dinner. It’s not uncommon to feel like all the big cases have been made — and intellectualized to death.
Nevertheless, on days like Halloween, the perfect justification for taking a shameless departure from oneself, it’s easy to feel helpless. When contemplating costumes, the familiar feeling that “it’s all been done before” rear-ends you like an octagenarian behind the wheel.
Students all over campus are busting moves to scrape together some poor man’s ghoul or rap star or ancient philosopher, all of which end up looking like a hobo without proper planning. The few who have judiciously selected and crafted a costume destined to be better/cuter/more inventive/more appalling/sluttier than yours have at least remained true to their competitive, ideologically aggressive side.
We must exploit this sacred chance to become a more extreme version of ourselves on Halloween.
The eccentric need not be afraid to assume a wider circumference in obtrusive outfits adorned with flotsam and jetsam. The vicious crafter can crochet outrageous get-ups to their heart’s content. And the subconscious extrovert couched in a seemingly quiet girl (or guy) must embrace the cue to come raging forth atop four-inch stilettos.
It’s October the 30th and people are undergoing mild existential crises while deciding how to dress up without looking like a B for effort, how to outfit themselves with a grand notion, a creative take on an old classic, something snappy and funny with a side of irreverence. While costumes barely matter (stay on) by night’s end, it’s only natural to feel nervous about a costume’s debut. The Elmer’s glue of anticipation fusing together moments before All Hallow’s Eve is non-toxic. We’re seeking to make an impression, slip on a thesis we can’t be sure of but that we know will raise at least an eyebrow, at most a shrill objection or a standing ovation. Students at Yale are often found trying on radical ideas for size. Halloween ought to be no different.
I’m not interested in judging costume anxiety as a constructive or destructive experience. I only wonder whether the typical Marilyn Monroes or jailbirds, at least those independent of the dreaded “group costume,” are seizing this grand opportunity. Despite a wide contingent of tragically cool people, on an occasion such as this at Yale, nobody is too cool to put visible effort into his or her costume. Halloween is the time to call attention to ourselves with what we’re not, and simultaneously define ourselves by how far we can depart from the norm. Cutie with the black spandex and disheveled cardboard ears is neither a cat nor a cutie on Halloween but an effortless bore. Ideologue with the overextended metaphor taped all over his sweat suit has only transformed into a more visibly unequivocal asshole. Admittedly, costumes need not become so ridiculous and obscure that their contents become a social liability. But some elbow grease and a marginally inspired idea: this much is owed to the spirit of the coming evening of revelry — the great American sartorial free-for-all.
Tomorrow night, I’ll be wearing a home-made seashell bra. And my desperation.