A kindred site.
"Only in Salem..."

I recently returned from this year's trip to Salem for some early Halloween festivities. This time we brought along some more of Marisa's family.

And this year I had myself mummified. Because in Salem, you can go about in costume when it's not yet October 31st and you won't get funny looks for it. Well, you will, but they're the right kind. I had the great pleasure of hearing "Look at that mummy!" over and over. I never tired of it.

Making on a decent mummy costume isn't an exact science. And there are many ways to do it. It's really...wait for it...a dead art. *pause for laughter* But it can be done, and I think we did pretty good.

The base of the costume was about 95% my mother-in-law's(mummy-in-law?) doing, which involved her sewing strips of torn muslin (which I'd dyed in various black teas) methodically onto thermal underclothes (likewise dyed). The rest was a hodgepodge of manual needlework I managed, and then had my wife's help with the head-wrapping. Which is harder than it seems.

Hell, I even wrapped my backpack. Where else is a mummy supposed to keep (1) his canopic jars or (2) his Salem swag? That got a few laughs. Mission accomplished!

Anyway, during the day I stood out. In bright light, even a good mummy isn't so scary—just interesting. But when night falls, it becomes much more fun. And when you switch to a lurching gait, you really catch people's eye. There's something about the eye-catching garb and less-than-human movement that strikes the right chord.

I even had fun standing to the side of the street or sidewalk—where there is a constant flow of visitors and tourists—and then holding still. This inevitably draws in some people, who wondered if you're real, and then move in close to get photos taken. As if you're a wax figure. And then of course when you move, the reaction is enjoyable. I got a lot of kids' attention, and my brother-in-law, who was dressed in a simple black, hooded costume with glowing eyes, also really struck that creepy chord in people. At one point, he even made a little girl cry from a distance. Mission accomplished!

But I think my proudest moment was the end of Saturday night when were were driving out of Salem to head back to the hotel. In the passenger seat, I leaned out the window as we went past another crowd, letting my wrappings blow in the wind. One of the Salem trolley tour guides said through his microphone to his group, "Only in Salem is it normal to see a mummy driving by in a car." That got some laughs.

I've successfully made myself part of the scenery.

Anyway, I'll probably give the mummy costume another go on Halloween day, and I'm going to try and really mess with my face. Fun with Karo syrup, black and brown makeup, and spirit gum! Whether I can pull it off or not remains to be seen. Then it's a wrap for this year.

All right, folks. I'll BCing you.

posted on 10.18.2010
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