Halloween is rapidly approaching; the signs are everywhere. Carved pumpkins, snow flurries in the forecast for Friday, and of course, people in costumes.
I’m not unfamiliar with costumes myself. I wore quite a few while acting in interactive murder mysteries with Terry Shane and especially with Pegasus Performances in Calgary, Sometimes I died, sometimes I didn’t but I always had fun, especially when I got to wear costumes. The one attached — of the Duchess Kicken-Butte — brings back particularly fond memories. She was the enforcer at medieval feasts who threatened miscreants with much kissing of the French variety. It worked remarkably well in stopping food fights.
My life with costumes goes back a long way. Of course we all dressed up for Halloween and the associated parties as kids but I actually took it a step farther, engaging in cosplay before I even knew such a thing existed.
At 12 I was a huge comic book fan and collector. Eventually I had over 3000 comics, though they are all gone now. I loved to turn my comic book heroes into characters for the superhero games we played in the neighbourhood. As the chief librarian I was the game master for these live action adventures. This was in 1967 so I think I got the jump on LARPs.
I always had a little money in my pocket (as a kid I was a mad entrepreneur, working at anything to feed my book, comic and movie habits) and when I learned that my friend Alan knew how to sew (he had four older sisters) I immediately proposed we buy some material and make costumes. I can’t remember what we made for him but I was to be the Boy Wonder. Robin’s costume had all the advantages — it was colorful, could partly be constructed from my wardrobe and best of all had a very simple mask (we had no idea how to make a cowl).
Off we went to the fabric store — not a specialized one in those days but part of Margolian’s department store. I’m sure we got a few odd looks as we gathered up bright yellow and red yards of cloth and purchased the right color threads and some needles. But this was Amherst in the 60s where the explanation for everything was “They’re just kids having fun.”
I won’t say the costume was a work of art — Alan’s skills didn’t live up to his brags — but I did wear the final product for plenty of adventures all that summer. Maybe that explains a lot — or maybe it explains nothing at all. Just kids having fun.
And that’s ten minutes.