I’ve told you about my company’s legendary Halloween parties. My co-workers are as creative as they come. We’ve had conference rooms repurposed as Wild West saloons complete with sawdust and entire departments dressed like Monopoly game pieces. The things these people can do with papier mâché would astound you.

Alas, all of this artistry has yet to rub off on me. Even as a kid, I never had much imagination when it came to costumes. Among my more inventive ideas: clown, ghost, pirate. The entirety of my pirate outfit consisted of an eye patch, which I took as permission to run around shouting, “Aargh!” at my unsuspecting neighbors.

I knew I was scraping the bottom of the barrel when I dressed as a black-eyed pea (not the band) by circling one eye in black make-up and taping a giant letter “P” to my shirt. I know. I know.  But there was one fabled Halloween party when I pulled out all the stops.

I was twenty-four or twenty-five and trying to catch the eye of a certain young man. (You knew this involved a guy, right?) This time the black-eyed pea costume wasn’t going to cut it. I had to look fabulous. I had to look glamorous.

I had to be Marilyn.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn Monroe

Are diamonds a girl’s best friend?

“It’s all make-believe, isn’t it?”
~Marilyn Monroe

A friend who was handy with a needle and thread agreed to help me recreate her famous look from the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  For one night, why not be someone as different from me as possible — a vivacious, sassy, blond sex symbol who could keep company with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio. So I donned the strapless pink gown with obscenely large bow, the shoulder-length gloves, the blond wig. Oh, and the hundreds of carats of fake diamonds.  (Though the ones Marilyn wore in the movie were real!)

The night of the party, I sashayed and shimmied around vampires and Supermen, pursing my lacquered lips and hoping the guy would notice me. It was hard work, this being someone I wasn’t. In fact, it was exhausting. I kept trying to think of what I should say and how I should stand to be more like Marilyn.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRMzuYZyixY&w=560&h=315]

A couple of hours into the evening: “Hey,” he said. “Who are you supposed to be?” He was dressed as a referee or an inmate. I wasn’t sure which.

“Marilyn? Marilyn Monroe?”

He nodded. “Cool.”

Deflated more than the giant bow attached to my backside, I sat on the front steps and took a deep breath. My wig was itching and I’d lost one of my fake eyelashes somewhere in the “witches’ brew” punch. I’d spent a good part of the evening tugging at the top of the gown, which suffice it to say, did not fit as snugly as Marilyn’s did. I realized I didn’t know the first thing about being glamorous (or being a pirate apparently). You can take the girl out of the plaid, but you can’t take the plaid out of the girl.

Isn’t that what we’re doing when we play dress up — trying on different personas? It was fun, pretending to be Marilyn Monroe for a few hours, but it was draining. (It could be argued that even Marilyn wasn’t really “Marilyn.”) In the end it was good that I hadn’t gotten that guy’s attention, because then what? Thoreau said, “Be yourself– not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” After the party, the gown and the wig went into a box at the back of my closet because I never felt the need to be Marilyn again.

Have you ever dressed up for Halloween? What was your most memorable costume? 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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