A Really Bad Costume Idea

| Nov 9, 2020
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How have you been spending your Covid-Restricted time? If you are like me you haven’t been doing much clubbing or shopping in your femme persona, in any persona — drag or drab!
So what have I been doing? Well task-master Angela tells me I have to turn out a story every four weeks or else! Or else what? She did not say but I heard a rumor once that she had a way of doing things to finger nails.

That wasn’t exactly in my mind as I went through my collection of photos stored on CDs. They come from back in the days when we would take our digital cards to Walmart or some other service and they would put the images on the CD for us. ‘You know you are getting old when you remember. . .’

Most of the photos were of the male me with family and friends, some of vacations and one had the fireworks celebrations in our town for Y2K.

Then there they were: Images of a special trip I took with a special lady new to my life at the time. They were a great reminder of that trip and a stark reminder of the REALLY BAD IDEA I ONCE HAD FOR A HALLOWEEN COSTUME. Here’s how it unfolded:

1989 Paradise in the Poconos.

For many of us crossdressers back in the last century (the 1900’s) Halloween was a big deal. It was the day we figured we could dress en femme, go out in public and not get arrested. Gay bars had special Halloween costume parties where a large part of the crowd would be crossdressers getting out. In the 1980s I lived for Halloween and always found a reason to be somewhere I could dress up. I loved pretending to be a woman pretending to be someone else. One year I was a nurse. I remember being Doc Ulla, the Swedish vampire doctor one year is Syracuse. A 1950s rock ‘n roller in a poodle skirt? Done that. A 1920s flapper girl? Did that at a singles dance club where the judges came from the nearby Canadian Mounted Police College and they gave me a special prize because my costume respected and did not mock the female image. A beauty pageant contestant? I was Miss Conception at a Henri David Party.

However this story takes place in the new century, in 2001 to be exact. I was single at the time and had been for a few years. I expected that year I would be spending Halloween in Toronto or Montreal or perhaps even New York. It would be fun! Then a funny thing happened.

In June of that year I met a new lady friend and we hit it off just fantastically. By July we were sleeping together and by August I had moved into her condo (while still retaining mine). ‘Hey, this is getting serious’, I thought, ‘how am I going to tell her about Linda?’

Sexy nurse in Syracuse.

September of that year the world was shaken by the events of 9/11, Canadians almost as much as Americans. We grieved for the victims. We wondered how it could have happened. And we expected it was only a matter of time until the terrorist leader, Osama Bin Laden, was tracked down and killed.

September turned into October, the world started to get back to normal and that meant the weather in Canada was getting colder. We decided to take our first vacation together. It would be a week in Colonial Williamsburg where we could share our mutual interests in golf and history. I also decided that would be the time I would tell my new honey about ‘Linda’. Not only tell her; I would show her. ‘When would be a better opportunity than the week of Halloween?’ I reasoned.

My costume had to be just right. I thought of resurrecting the nurse or the flapper or perhaps an Indian princess. Then as I browsed through the local costume store I saw it — a traditional Arabian harem girl costume, complete with pantaloons, low cut body suit and a veil. And they had it in XL. I had my costume.

But I had one more accessory to buy. It was a long shaggy beard. You see I planned to mock the missing leader of the 9/11 attacks. I was going to be ‘Osama being Lady’, hiding out in a harem to escape capture and prosecution. Well, at the time I thought it was a clever idea. Ha!

So off we go to Williamsburg. I tell my new lady friend that we will be going out to a nightclub for Halloween. It turns out she is not a big fan of Halloween or costume parties in general. She is game to go along with me and a visit to a thrift store helps us cobble together a 1970s flower child costume for her. She is skeptical about my costume idea but again would go along with it.

Do you know Williamsburg? Besides being one of the oldest communities (settled from Europe that is) in America it is very close to the mega Navy stations in the Norfolk and Newport News area. A lot of the people and a lot of the economy depend on the military. Even more than elsewhere in America they are proud supporters of the Navy in particular and the military in general. And it is right that they should be. I am too and I guess that is why I thought my costume mocking Osama bin Laden would be a big hit. Ha!

Who is that harem girl?

When it came to Halloween eve we got into our costumes and headed to the club where the party was being held. She didn’t say anything then but my friend told me later she was surprised and suspicious how good I looked. All was going well. I had the harem girl costume on but not the beard.
That is it was going well until we walked into the club. We attracted a few looks and one comment. One 40-something fellow looked at me and said, “I should kill you right now!”

I was pretty shocked. Should we retreat? “Why?” I asked. I expected some transphobic response.
“Because right now I hate anything A-RAB!” he explained and turned away. He had not been serious about killing me.

For an hour or so we sat at our table, nursing drinks and occasionally getting up to dance. Yes we got our looks from the otherwise totally straight club crowd made up mostly of singles and couples with most of the guys having distinctly military style haircuts. I didn’t know whether the looks were expressing anti-Arab or anti-trans sentiment but I don’t think there were many looks of admiration. ‘No worries,’ I thought, ‘I’ll win them over when I put on the beard and explain my costume.’ To help with that I had a sign in my purse that read, “WHY THEY CAN’T FIND OSAMA BIN LADEN’. That would be obvious, wouldn’t it?

Does that seem like a bad idea to you? For me it seemed to be working out okay. I was with a woman I loved. She was accepting me en femme. I had a good costume and I looked good enough that I overheard one guy having to say to his date, ‘Sure that’s a guy. Look at the hands’. If they have to check my hands to realize I’m male that’s a good thing isn’t it?

Well the idea was about to go from not bad — to bad — to it could hardly have been worse! The costume judging was starting and we were called to the stage. My friend gave it a pass. She preferred to watch or perhaps she preferred to keep her distance from me in case my ‘killer’ got serious. I slipped on my beard under the veil and stepped onto the stage. As I recall there were about 10 contestants. I looked at the competition and thought I had a chance of winning. However, I was worried that judging would be by a vocal vote from the audience. Turned out it was.

They lined us up. There was the requisite number of vampires, monsters, baby dolls, teddy bears, etc., one bearded harem girl and one little, slightly inebriated lady who looked as if she was dressed in her son’s baseball uniform. ‘Well, I’ve got her beat,’ I thought.

It’s Linda.

Did I tell you about the sign? I was carrying a sign that I would hold up when it was my turn to be introduced. WHY THEY CAN’T FIND OSAMA BIN LADEN it read. ‘Oh yes,’ I expected the audience to read and laugh. The mother-f–ker was hiding out as a girl in a harem. So funny, I thought they would say.
It didn’t quite work out that way. I was about half way down the line to be introduced. I don’t know if the MC got flustered or was truly dyslexic but as she came to me she read out, “WHY CAN’T THEY FIND OSAMA BIN LADEN?”

Can you feel the hostility rising? After 19 years I still can. Put yourself in their shoes. It looked to them like this Arab piece of sh*t was taunting them.

“Well, honey, THEY’RE TRYING!!” She screamed at me.

There was going to be no winning a contest that night. I had to set my sights a little lower — like getting out of the place alive. I blurted out my explanation, “No it explains why they can’t find bin Laden. He is hiding out in drag!”

The light went on with a few people and I got a bit of applause. But perhaps it was the type of area, type of crowd and a time in history that a crossdresser, no matter what she did, was not going to get a warm reception in a local dive bar.

Who won? Well it turns out the little lush in the baseball uniform was a bar regular and ‘known’ by many of the customers. The crowd went crazy wild applauding and cheering for her to win. Before the night was over she probably spent the prize money and more on drinks for them.
How did the rest of the night go? My friend and I left pretty soon after the contest, went back to our rental unit and we had ‘the talk’. I explained to her that this crossdressing was more than a Halloween thing for me, that I truly enjoyed presenting and living as a woman. To my relief she was okay with it. She asked that I not bring ‘Linda’ to bed with her and I was okay with that. I would have loved to be making love as Linda but it was a really small price to pay. We put ‘Linda’ away for the rest of that vacation but she was never far away after that. Not that night but before too long I also confessed that ‘Linda’ enjoyed dating guys, enjoyed the attention she received. Surprisingly she was okay with that, too. “Just be careful and don’t bring anything home,” she cautioned.

So was it really a bad costume idea? I thought it was funny on me but back in 2001 when I originally presented the story to the then editor of TGForum, Cindy Martin, gave me my first and only rejection slip to date. “I don’t like it on several counts,” she wrote curtly. I look back and think perhaps I stepped over the line going out in that costume and in expecting people to find any humor in anything related to 9/11 so soon after that date. My bad. Has the hostility lessened in the last 19 years? I hope so.

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Linda Jensen

About the Author ()

Canadian writer Linda Jensen is a long time contributor to TGForum. Before the days of the Internet Linda started her writing with the Transvestian newspaper. Her writing ranges from factual accounts of her adventures to fiction although frankly sometimes her real life adventures are stranger than the fiction. Linda is married to a loving partner who upon learning about Linda said, "she was part of you before I met you. Although I didn't know it she was part of the package I fell in love with. I don't want to mess up that package." "Does it get any better than that?" asks Linda.

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