For the month of October Listing Toward Forty is Listing Toward Halloween, featuring a variety of Halloween posts including many by guest authors. This post is by Rico Gagliano.
I wear glasses and I like it. No, I will not wear contacts. I will not put tiny thin showercaps on my freaking eyeballs. I will suspend helper lenses in front of my face with a frame, the way God – in my case, anyway – clearly intended. I’ve worn glasses since age six and I do not look right without them. I tried contacts for two weeks in ’99, and whoever the hell I kept seeing in the mirror, it wasn’t me.
Usually the only real problem caused by my stubborn fealty to spectacles is the vague fear I live with nightly as a visually-challenged Los Angeleno: That I will be awakened by an earthquake, reach for my glasses on my bedside table, and find them crushed or flung across the room, leaving me blind in the midst of apocalypse.
But there is a second, only slightly less stressful issue I must confront each autumn: what costume to wear on Halloween? Whichever it is, it must first and foremost incorporate glasses. And each autumn, I admit, there is an urge to backslide. To wear contacts for the evening. Or even to go entirely without corrective lenses, endangering myself and others, simply to rock a specs-less getup.
To which I say NO! There are a plethora of fine Halloween options for fellow four-eyes, and I have field-tested several, with more or less great success. They are listed below for your enjoyment and edification, and most importantly to instill pride.
1) HARRY POTTER
The patron saint of the bespectacled. He’s the most popular character in the history of fiction, and guess what -- he wears glasses, bitches. How many spells must there be to cure nearsightedness, but did Harry ever cast one on himself? He did not! ‘Cause he’s comfortable with who he is, that’s why. I was Harry Potter for five consecutive Halloweens in the mid-2000s, partly because I loved the books, but mainly because glasses.
PROS: Minimal effort required. V-neck sweater, white oxford shirt and striped tie. If you still have your college graduation gown, throw that on, too. Eyeliner a lightning bolt on your forehead. Grab a broom and get ready to flirt with all the ladies inevitably dressed as naughty Hermiones.
CONS: Your glasses really need to be round. And if you look even slightly middle-aged, this costume will make you seem either pathetically desperate to reclaim your youth, or like a creepy old stalker of naughty Hermiones.
Like Harry, Waldo’s universally known, and universally loved. I dressed as him one year and got more squeals of delight than seemed possible for a character who has never been given a history or personality. But I guess people just love someone who’s well-travelled and stands out in a crowd, and that’s Waldo -- the latter thanks mainly to his striking black glasses. Oh, you think it’s his omnipresent toque? OK, try wearing one of those without the glasses. Congratulations; you’re now Bob or Doug McKenzie.
PRO: Everyone at the party will want to have their picture taken with you in the background.
CONS: Again, round glasses only. Also, It is surprisingly difficult to find a white shirt with horizontal red stripes anywhere outside of Paris France.
3) WOODY ALLEN
Maybe you don’t wanna dress up as the guy who married his lover’s daughter. But maybe you do wanna dress up as the guy who despite – I would argue because of – wearing the thickest imaginable glasses, not only got to go out with the amazing Diane Keaton, but then got to make a genre-defining movie about it with her.
PRO: Simply put on white tennis shorts, shirt and shoes. You’re Alvy Singer when he meets Annie Hall.
CONS: Ironically, this is really an L.A.-friendly costume – no good for a chilly east coast Halloween. Also, for people to understand you’re trying to be Woody Allen and not just doing a lousy job trying to be Janko Tipsarević (or, if you’re African-American, Arthur Ashe), you will need to have beside you, at all times, a woman dressed like Annie Hall.
4) DR. STRANGELOVE
As a massive Kubrick fan, I wracked my brain to come up with an immediately identifiable Kubrickian character with glasses. There’s Joker from “Full Metal Jacket,” of course. And if you happen to be an actual Marine, who’s thus in possession of a complete combat uniform including helmet and flak jacket, that’ll be easy for you -- but also probably boring since it’s what you wear a lot of the time anyway. More fun (and weirdly less sobering, despite his central role in a movie about the end of the world) is Doctor Strangelove.
PROS: a.) Instant respect from all movie geeks. b.) The rare combination of extremely weird and extremely dapper -- the dude wore a sweet mid-century suit and a leather glove and sunglasses indoors, for Christ’s sake. c.) If you actually require a wheelchair in real life, this is a way funner costume option than Ron Kovic from “Born On The Fourth Of July.”
CONS: If you don’t actually require a wheelchair in real life, you’ll need to get one. And you will then have to actually experience what a pain in the ass it is to pilot a wheelchair around places that aren’t designed to accommodate wheelchairs. By increasing your sensitivity to the differently-abled, though, that’s really a pro. Also you can always get out of the chair, take off the glove, and say you’re Marcello Mastroianni in “La Dolce Vita” – it’s basically the same outfit.
5) KEVIN from "SIN CITY"
For those who don’t recall: Kevin is the Frank Miller comic-book character – played by Elijah Wood in the film version – who kinda looks like Harry Potter, but is also a freakishly silent, acrobatically violent homicidal cannibal who doesn’t change his bemused expression even when he’s tied to a tree, with his limbs cut off, being eaten alive by his own pet wolf. Still think people with glasses are wimps?
This is the only Halloween costume I’ve ever worn that actually scared the hell out of everyone.
PROS: Easier even than Potter: V-neck sweater with a jagged white stripe taped across the chest; checked shirt. Then just tape white paper over the lenses of your glasses and stand silently beside a stranger until they notice you and shriek.
CONS: If it is not the year 2005, only comix geeks will know who you’re trying to be. Also even if you poke small holes in the paper, it will be next to impossible to see through your glasses, thus eliminating the point of dressing as a character who wears them.
P.S. This year, for me? WALTER WHITE.
Rico Gagliano co-created and co-hosts American Public Media's arts-and-culture radio program "The Dinner Party Download." The show airs around the country but not on WBEZ, an injustice for which Chicagoans should not stand. In his college radio days Rico idolized the bespectacled Steve Albini. He tweets under the handle @RicoGagliano. Rico does, that is, not Steve.
All Halloween posts from this series can be found here.
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