Popped culture: Halloween for the Hermit

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I may be old before my time, but this year I’m not really feeling Halloween. It’s the tradition for those of age to dress up and get impressively intoxicated, but I’ve actually struggled with this for most of my adult life; I always seemed to have boyfriend problems, midterms, or other issues that kept me from being truly carefree on All Hallows Eve. When I did end up at parties, it was fun, but this year I haven’t even gone costume shopping and the big weekend is barely a few days away. I love my friends, but I really can’t feel downing a bottle of wine, or dancing to loud music, or—worst of all, for an introvert—interacting with people for hours on end.

I know I’m not alone; I am a member of a very proud and ancient order of curmudgeonly hermits. While we do enjoy social situations in many contexts, a big party can be the most exhausting thing imaginable, and alcohol’s depressant factors only exacerbate our fatigue. We’re the ones who bow out early; you’ll rarely see us at an after-party, and never at an after-after party. But Halloween parties are rarely costume-optional, and for those who haven’t planned out costumes, dressing up is usually a matter of combining existing wardrobe pieces into something impressively half-assed. You don’t want to skip the party entirely, but you want to be able to zone out after three hours and maybe go make friends with your host’s cat (he’s a better conversationalist anyway). So for all my fellow introverts who feel the pull of social engagements this Halloween, here are a few getups that will strike the perfect balance between meeting the minimum requirements for a “costume” and allowing you to escape to the quietest corner for a few minutes of alone time.

 The Bookworm

This getup is perhaps the easiest and greatest idea on the history of our planet Earth. It’s amazingly simple: dress in a cozy-but-dignified sweater and pants (or a skirt, if you feel like going for a Hermione vibe), pin a printed out cartoon earthworm onto your chest (for the sake of the pun), wear a pair of reading glasses (lenses optional) and bring the book you’re currently reading—maybe two, if you’re really going all out. Then, whenever you feel the urge to escape from reality for a few minutes, simply curl up in the nearest comfy chair and read to your heart’s desire. You’re not socially awkward; you’re committed to the bit. It’s brilliant.

Neo From That One Scene In The Matrix Where They Seal Up His Mouth

This one earns you points for being about 12 years out of date—way to be on top of the trends!—but the true genius comes from its innovative method of preventing you from having to engage in any sort of small talk whatsoever. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen the first Matrix film, it has an iconic scene early in the movie where evil agents interrogate hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves) and, when they don’t like his answers, they completely seal over his mouth in order to intimidate him. For you, this costume is easy: dress in a white shirt and dark pants. Use masking tape on your mouth, and cover it with some foundation and powder, but don’t worry too much about authenticity; you’ll be taking it off to surreptitiously munch on cookies when no one is looking.

The Mime On Strike

Who doesn’t love a mime? Basically everybody. But the nice thing is that mimes are silent, and being on strike means you are contractually forbidden by the United Mimes Chapter 5032 from pantomiming any sort of action whatsoever. Get yourself a striped shirt, some black pants, and smudge some white makeup around the edges of your face as if it’s been hastily wiped off. Red lipstick and black eye accents optional. Then hang a sign around your chest that says, “Mimes on Strike! The Invisible Wall Must Fall!” Bonus points awarded if you take it to the French level with a beret, a surly expression, and a cigarette perpetually hanging from your lips.

The Dedicated LARPer

In the hierarchy of nerds, it seems that the lowest caste is the hapless man or woman who engages in live-action role playing, or LARPing. Without dice, cards, or video games, the LARPer puts on a full costume and stays in character for a full-blown campaign. There are hundreds of different canons that LARP, and therefore the sky’s the limit when it comes to imaginative costume choices. So if you’re looking for an excuse to use that prop broadsword you spent your student loans on, here’s your chance: assemble a medieval-looking outfit, plant a brooding glare on your face, and have a friend explain that you are Kromnir the Silent, sworn to kill any man who hears your voice. You care about your fellow partygoers and you want to see them through this night with their hearts still beating. And if a dragon comes knocking, well, they’ll be glad you showed up, won’t they?

Someone In A Full-Face Mask

This is pretty self-explanatory. Get yourself a mask that covers your mouth as well as your eyes. When someone asks what you’re supposed to be, shrug and point to the mask. Heck, when you’re asked any question, shrug and point to the mask. Add in a creepy slow head tilt for extra effect. Yahtzee.