Last Saturday I spent two hours waiting in line outside the SF Opera’s costume warehouse for their huge sale. Ask me how it was, and I will tell you: I have no idea. I waited two hours, did the math, and realized that it was going to be an additional two hours before I would be allowed to enter with my 14 closest line-buddies—for only 15 were allowed in at a time, and only after 15 shoppers had exited, per the fire marshal’s demands. The line wrapped around blocks of a Potrero neighborhood. We moved 10 feet every 15 minutes. None of the successful shoppers walked by with their purchases; we were all operating on blind faith that this warehouse did in fact have costumes in it. Teams sent delegates to purchase lunch from a nearby coffee shop. The girl in front of me called her dad to bring her a sandwich. Slowly people started to peel off. The college student behind me who had dragged her friend with her. The girl in front of me, only minutes after her dad left. The costume designer who had been chatting her up, convinced that nothing of any worth would be left. And then me.
Before leaving, I wondered if I should make a sign: “$50 for my spot in line.” As I got closer, I could raise my price. Professional line-waiter . . . those exist somewhere right? But, unable to resolve the ethical debate such a proposal demanded, I simply walked away. Two hours older but no worse for wear.
“But what are you going to wear for Halloween?” Well, actually, unlike most people in line I was not there for a) a Halloween costume nor b) additional garments to add to my theatrical collection. I was hoping to find a cheap wedding suit . . . maybe even a wedding dress for Rachel. Look. Stranger things have happened. I am sure there are operas in which a wedding ensues. And how nifty would it be to wed in appropriate garb styled to look like it’s from the 1800s . . .
Halloween is of course theater’s holiday. For one night, revelers embrace what we embrace everyday: the desire to create a different reality through the realization of fictional characters. On Halloween, you can be anybody, and as anybody you can do anything. For whatever reason, our day-to-day personalities shackle us to a set of rules that we made up for ourselves. I am shy, so I will not meet people. I am lazy, so I will not work. It is a lot of work to figure out what we WANT to do with our time, so we fall back on defaults of “what I would do if I were me.” It’s Saturday. So I will sleep in a little, read some of my David Eddings, probably go to the gym, and clean. Is that what I want to do? Must be . . . right?
But tonight I could choose to put on a costume of some other personality? Who would I be, and what would I do . . .