Friday, October 31, 2003

First impressions count, even when you're all in disguise

As previously mentioned, I went to a Hallowe'en party last night, which was hosted by my friend Peter McMahon and his roommate Doug. My friend Barry happened to be looking for a Thursday party to kick off his four days of Samhain celebration. I figured this one would be perfect for him, and secured permission to bring him. Barry works in broadcast production, while Peter works at the Discovery Channel and would be inviting a lot of TV people. And Barry goes all-out on costumes, while Peter and Doug go all-out on decorations, activities, and especially costumes.

In fact, Doug happens to be a talented maskmaker. I gave Barry a little preview of Doug's work by sending him to his website, The site's called that because Doug is, in addition to being a very talented maskmaker, a very fat man. He's got to be 400 pounds at the very least. Fortunately, he's got charm by the bucketful and a great sense of humor about his great size.

So Barry and I go to the party, with Barry's friend Raj in tow. We're greeted at the door by Doug, who's wearing one of his scary masks and a flowing black robe, standing there like a silent masked behemoth.

Raj looks at Doug's mask with great interest, looks Doug up and down, from head to foot, then -- as I look on in a horror that sends my testicles retreating into my belly -- reaches out and tentatively prods at what he obviously assumes is Doug's heavily padded fake stomach, being the only one of us who hasn't been briefed that it's not part of the costume.

"What the fuck?!" Doug shouts. "Who the fuck is this guy poking me in the stomach?!"

In fact, Doug wasn't offended at all. It's just that Raj had basically committed a faux pas along the lines of asking an overweight woman when the baby's due and Doug wanted to really rake him over the coals for it. Raj never did end up seeming too comfortable after that, and in fact, he and Barry ended up leaving the party early to go find a bar.

I think what I've learned here is that if you ever make a first impression that awkward, you should probably just commission somebody like Doug to make a mask for you and wear it for the rest of your life. But if it's the maskmaker you offend, you're screwed, because then you don't have anyone to make that unrecognizable new face for you.

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