I don’t have a problem with fun, I really quite enjoy fun. But just as I am void of desire to punctuate that statement with a dreaded exclamation mark or a giant smiley face, I don’t feel the need to literally dress fun up.
I’m rather despondent in the face of forced and contrived ‘fun’. You know – community fairs, team bonding experiences, party games, fancy dress.
Fancy. Dress. That is where my main contention lies. Obviously there have been moments in life when I’ve fully embraced and actually enjoyed it, but that has been on my terms, decided at my own leisure, created with my own thoughts and creative ability. Not thrust upon me.
When this fun becomes ‘fun’, it’s usually as a result of some type of enforced wearing of a party hat or novelty devil horns. The quotation marks around ‘fun’ come to quite literally represent these devil horns. The ring leader of this enforced fun, thrusting a pair of devil horns onto your head in an attempt to demonstrate ‘naughtiness’, because ‘naughtiness’ is fun.
No. No it is not.
And do you know what else isn’t fun? When your invite to a birthday/hen/stag/party event comes with a command that everyone must dress in the exact same fancy dress attire.
Ever since I lost a fancy dress competition to a bunch of grapes, whilst I was stood on stage inside a cardboard box in an attempt to be a birthday cake, any fancy dress has been tainted with a tinge of trauma.
Because how could I not win that competition? We were at a high street’s 100th birthday party – why would a bunch of grapes win instead of a birthday cake? It didn’t make sense, and it still doesn’t make sense. And because that certainty wasn’t certain enough, I will now instantly recoil in horror at the very mention of the awful words ‘fancy dress’, because whatever I attempt will not be good enough.
Maybe you’d think that if we’re all forced to dress in the same outfit then there’s no competition. We’re all in the same boat, or the same costume box – strength in numbers, united we stand, or something. Nope, that doesn’t make it better. It brings to the surface the horrific memories of the group fancy dress moments that defined my childhood. Because when I wasn’t strutting across a stage in a cardboard box, I could be found in a homeless man’s second favourite belonging – The Bin Bag.
Along with my two sisters, once a year, I’d knock on strangers’ doors dressed in refuse chic. All three of us, wandering the neighbourhood in bin bags. Black bin bags. This was Halloween trick or treating for countless years – the bin bags, a bit of rope, a rubber nose and a plastic hat, made up the costumes for us trio of witches.
And it was a conflicting time for us, this childhood relationship with bin bags – because they were also brought out on Christmas day to contain our presents. Why is Santa using our Halloween costumes for our presents? What is all that rubbish doing in my Halloween costume? Why are you dressed as a bin, dear child?
As the years went on, my fancy dress attempts became more elaborate and desperate – I was soon led by creative intuition and began to raid charity shops for inspiration (via the bin bags left outside containing donations, of course). Little Sharon had invited me to her 10th birthday party and I had never visited a house so grand. The birthday party was fancy dress, and of course I deemed it appropriate to visit the local charity shop to purchase a tight PVC skirt, lacy black top, black ankle boots and to spray my hair green. No, I hadn’t shunned the bin bags to transform myself into a saucy witch of the night, I was a PUNK. As a 10-year-old child, a reclusive, nose-bleeding, bed-wetting, cat poem-writing 10-year-old child, I was dressed as a ‘punk’.
So here we are many years and fancy dress attempts later, on the verge of a nosebleed at the stress and outrage that I’ve been invited to an event where a costume has been enforced upon me. You could argue, after reading the narrative of a snippet of my childhood fancy dress horrors, that an enforced costume is a blessing in actual disguise, because surely there won’t be a group enforcement of the bin bag, and what could be worse than that?
I’ll tell you what can be worse than that – the enforcement of bulk-bought costumes. By all means, announce the theme and announce that it would be nice if we all dressed as a similar collection of characters. But don’t announce that you’ve got your hands on a pile of BULK BOUGHT costumes. A job lot. Grab ‘em while they’re hot, girls. All this material for one paaaand.
Because why, why, why, why is it necessary to extinguish the slightest glimmer of fun that does exist in fancy dress, that is the creation of your own disastrous masterpiece, by dictating that we must all wear the exact same garment? Purchased from an online industrial warehouse of ‘FUN’, and no doubt stitched in a Bangladesh sweatshop, wherein which poor building regulations and health and safety standards caused it to come crashing down, killing 256 girls and maiming another 167. Because buildings cannot be held up by ‘FUN’ alone, you know.
For the sake of human rights, and before the UN gets involved, please reconsider inflicting this upon us. For now, I shall dig out my old bin bag to become the apparent Anti-’Fun’ Witch that you probably now consider me to be.