It was a post-Halloween sale that got me. A fair maiden costume at seventy-five percent off had been lurking in my closet for months. The blue velvet dress was clean, and it fit. Already angry with my jeans, I dared myself to put it on. I did get some funny looks at the gas station on the way to the Renaissance Faire, but I believe in costumes.
The sparkle I saw in a little girl’s eyes as she wondered if I was real or not was worth it. The camaraderie of an adult who went through the same ordeal that morning eased my mind. I was no longer just me; I was a fair maiden. People would walk by and say “Good morrow, M’lady.” They’d smile meekly, and I’d grin back.
If that’s what it takes to make people comfortable enough to smile at each other as they pass, then I believe in costumes. I may be a fair maiden, a tavern wench, or a blacksmith. I may have my wine in a jeweled goblet or be eating steak on a stake with a knight, but if there’s any chance of donning a costume, then I’ll be there.
Of course, there’s always Halloween; the “this IS my costume” T-shirt simply won’t cut it. Can I invent another original, recognizable, and easy costume this year? If it’s more complicated than replacing a button, then I can’t sew it, but without ever threading a needle, I’ve been Poison Ivy, a Christmas present, and a rare specimen of road kill.
I love taking my nephew trick-or-treating and having wide-eyed four year olds ask me if I’m really Cinderella – tonight I am. They might as well be in Disneyland taking pictures and meeting the characters of their fantasies, but they’re only a block from home. How can I not share that kind of joy and wonder? It’s certainly not just for kids. My Vivian Ward outfit had won three costume contests and been worn, altered, and improved by four other women when I left California.
Last year, Maryland’s first annual Fairy Festival gave me yet another chance to pick a whole new personality and garb for a day. There were muses and mermaids, witches and warlocks, and dryads and dragons mingling with the countless fairies of all ages. The decorations and booths made a scant difference to the meadow I stood in, but the shimmer of wings and masks of paint transformed the bare greensward into a realm of fantasy. I had entered a world of easy laughter, imagination, and warm greetings. If pretending to be someone else, even just for a day, is what it takes to bring that world to life, then I believe in costumes.