Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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What does the word masquerade mean to you? Do you have a secret identity known only to yourself? How would you dress if you had no formal dress code to satisfy? Do you think you would make any changes to your present wardrobe? When I was a child my mother kept a very big cardboard moving container in the basement full of her old dressy clothing. This box was provided for dress up when I had friends over to play. We used it extensively. I have some fuzzy memories of my friends in hats, gloves, and formal dresses. None of my other friends had one of these, but it was not until later that I knew it had been a great idea.
I had my first job in my life as a costumer and a singer in an outdoor drama. This show, Unto These Hills, was produced in a large amphitheater, so costumes were very important part of telling the story. One of my jobs was to assist in the quick changes of costumes. I helped an eagle dancer turn into Andrew Jackson, replete with long cape, in about 2 minutes. There were a couple of other quick changes, but that was the one that required the biggest transformation. I was never on stage in Cherokee, but in the choir behind a curtain when we sang. I was the youngest (17) and the lowest paid member of the staff. I think I made about $35 a week after they paid for my room and board out of my check. I don’t think about it very often, but last week I saw a bluegrass band from North Carolina and the memories came into my mind like a flood. I am craving hush puppies and thinking about some of our crew that have already left this world. I am remembering laughing so hard I thought I might die right there in the Great Smokey Mountains.
I had careers in both spa fitness and travel, which required me to switch costumes, sometimes quick change. I wore bathing suits a lot of the time for teaching, and often went to the travel agency at night to print tickets and work on my clients’ trips. They were two distinct work environments, so mixing them was a bad idea. I had one briefcase for each job, and had to make sure I kept them separate. This became more defined when I started to work in Mexico at Rancho la Puerta. I was asked to do something to perk up the bingo game because guests were complaining about it. Without consciously bringing it to mind, I reinvented my cardboard dress up box from the basement of my childhood home. We collected ridiculous Vana White style evening wear and used it for bingo. This bingo persona got out of control. Regularly guests would as me if I was there for the week just as bingo queen. Either they missed my classes, or did not know I was the same person who had taught them. This game went on for years, until the guests themselves wanted to dress up and wear wigs. Eventually I distributed all the contents of the bingo costume box and started again. I wore a sheet toga and flowers in my hair for bingo and said I was Spring, the season.
I recently did a big purge of my closet in order to feel focused and clear. This has been a wonderful change, leaving me space and a better curated wardrobe than I had. I no longer need to dress for a job, or to impress anyone. I dress for comfort and also like to express my personal style. My secret identity is ace detective. I am curious to a fault, and enjoy nothing more than stealth. I am not particularly fond of being recognized because I love to slip around in a crowd to eavesdrop. If I could use a cloak for invisibility I certainly would. My signature look, in my own estimation, should be one that shape shifts. I need to maintain a level of mystery. What do you want from your costuming, gentle reader?
The traditions that exist around costumed rituals abound. Mumming may be from the Irish, may be from the Celtic, but now is interpreted by many modern Brits to honor an ancient tradition. The costumes are significant both in the way they change and in the similarities to ancient customs. Straw boys represent good luck, and are sent to visit newly married couples. There are specific plays and characters for Christmas and Halloween in modern mumming that are uninterrupted traditions from ancient history.
Today people have avatars, play games as super heroes, and give themselves any title they please in their on line lives. I think it is interesting that there are so many groups passionate to preserve the costuming and cultures from history, from Civil War reenactments to the merry mummers of the British Isles, to Helldorado Days in Tombstone, AZ. The tradition of mime is related to the mummers. The costume tells much of the story, just as it does in many Naive American dances. Will you dress up for the end of October? Will you do anything special to honor the dead? It is the perfect time.