Thursday, October 20, 2005

Costumed cover up

I felt a little shafted when my new acquaintance "Sarah" didn't take time to chat me up at the raging party we crashed last weekend. Still, I took the context into account: loud music, costumes, and a motley crew of old and new hipsters employing a mixed treat bag of substances. I supposed it was just too chaotic.

The day I'd initially met Sarah, I found her delightfully abrasive. Laughing within the first few minutes and not stopping until she left, I plugged her in on my get-to-know roster.

Happy to see her at this pre-Halloween bash, which occupied all three levels of a triplex, I introduced to her to everyone I knew. I wanted her to have a good time. She'd shown up as "pregnant Britney Spears" and I - bloodied by a flock of birds -was Tippi Hedren from Hitchcock's The Birds. She looked so unlike herself, in terrible hoochie clothes, that I really hadn't recognized her at first, not until I saw our mutual friend arrive with her.

The last time we'd chatted, we expressed appreciation for people who stay in character while costumed for Halloween. She claimed to never falter.

This night, while dressed as Ms. Spears, she faked a flaky accent and adopted the pseudonym: Alison. Not understanding why, dressed as Ms. Spears, she'd call herself Alison, I rationalized the concept with her. I agreed that choosing a slightly trashy name to be a more believable character would confuse people more - and, that is the fun of Halloween.

Dedicated to her new persona, Sarah insisted her name was "Alison" each time I introduced her. Her outfit was convincing, too. A friend of mine, laughing at her bubble gum pink New York Yankees hat, asked her where she got it.

"In New York," she snarled, almost convincingly.

All night, I chuckled as she stayed in character, arguing with people about her name and insisting the clothes were her own, that she always dressed like that. Even her roommate got involved, as Britney's trashy-naive little sister. "Why do you keep calling her Sarah?" she joked. This dedication to humour, I thought, is why I think Sarah is so genuinely hilarious. Her roommate didn't look like someone I would normally befriend, but nor did my own costumed troupe of girls at this all-out, over-the-top party. I chatted with them here and there during the course of the chaotic mash.

The night went on and on. Taking the hint from the rising sun, we eventually left. Some with jackets, some without. Some staggering, some laughing, some better than others.

Overall, it was a delightfully debaucherous evening. Regardless of costume, we all resurrected our roles as irresponsible university students, though the official titles were retired 5-10 years ago.

But, one mystery remains. The next afternoon I reluctantly dragged my swollen brain from my pillow to the phone. During a laughter-filled recap of the evening, my friend asked me who the girl was that I'd been talking to all night. I said I was surprised she hadn't recognized Sarah. Then, I had my first moment of clarity since I cracked my first cold one: Sarah wasn't at the party.

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