I’d never gone to a costume party for Halloween before this year. I know this is odd, but at least I am familiar with the concept of Halloween, unlike a friend I had in middle school who had lived abroad her whole life. I took her trick-or-treating for the first time in the 90’s and she was befuzzled by the concept, asking, “So, we dress up and they’re just going to give us candy?” It is sort of weird when you look at it from the outside in.
The party was held at a bar and part of the fun was guessing what everyone’s costume was. Some people were obvious and were greeted with, “Oh, you’re a butterfly!” at the site of over-sized wings that almost knocked over drink cups all night. Other costumes needed time for all the clues to arrange themselves into the answer, like the guy in a scruffy blond wig and a flannel shirt who I couldn’t figure out until I saw the shotgun. “Kurt Cobain!” (I didn’t say they were all tasteful costumes.) There were three Amy Winehouses who were all dressed differently, but all looked scraggly and half-crazy. I wanted them to get into a cat fight to film for YouTube. I chatted with two people dressed in full clown makeup and floppy shoes who I would never be able to recognize in real life. If I did, I would probably be surprised to see them not caked in white foundation, though seeing them dressed in clown makeup all the time would be surprising too.
During the party I sat down at a table and surveyed the scene. I realized that the surrealness of the evening wasn’t caused just by the strange outfits. It was seeing people who would never interact with each other in reality or fiction chatting and dancing the night away. Yoda would never hang out with an Imperial Stormtrooper in the Star Wars galaxy, but there they were walking past each other without reaching for a light saber or blaster. I don’t know in what universe a six-foot tall Indian would hang out with a flapper girl from the 20’s, but there they were in the corner.
I thought about my own friends and the people I hang out with. I know someone who makes chain mail and someone who sews cool outfits from old fabric, skills I do not have. My friends listen to different music than I do and read books I haven’t read. But there is also a lot of sameness. Although I am intrigued by people who are different than me, I also gravitate towards people who are similar. This blog and the Internet have allowed me to meet people from different countries and different generations which I would never have met otherwise and I think my life is better for it. I wondered what our real lives would be like if we surrounded ourselves with more people who were different from us. It’s only when all who surround you are different that you truly belong.