Thinking Makes It So

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By Kelly LeVan

SANTA FE – I poked him.His puffy torso stuffed with hundreds of Styrofoam peanuts, I don’t think he felt it. He certainly didn’t turn and say, “Hey, weirdo, keep your fingers to yourself.”Of course, dancing at the Cowgirl on Halloween, it is hard to keep one’s body to oneself, whether packed with peanuts or not. Shoulders, backsides and other disguised parts bounce and sway inches away from each other, at most. Everyone loves the DJ with his xylophone trance music, and then later, the trio Zoe Fitzgerald, Time-Traveling Transvestite. Everyone wears eyeliner. Hardly anyone wears pants: This is a night for fishnets, gaudy maid uniforms and bright pink wigs, regardless of your gender. A furry-skirted man and a woman wearing mostly body paint grin at a waitress passing through with somebody’s french fries high over her head. Breath, armpits, hairsprays and other odors blend sociably with the beer. “Has anyone seen a f------ nun?” a man’s voice calls out. “She went that way!” I yell, pointing toward the bar.I probably would have stayed home and read my psychology textbook if not for the clothes-ripping, green-makeup-applying party that preceded a recent performance of “Thriller.” If not for my hip-hop class’ dance at Trick or Treat on MainStreet, I might never have smeared black circles and drips of red around my eyes. I might never have destroyed a legwarmer. I wouldn’t know how much I like disrespecting dresses and especially tights, which have disrespected me for years, or that I like trying to look hideous.I wasted so many years trying to look presentable.It was such a relief to go the other way. Groucho Marx once said, “Women should be obscene and not heard.”Susan Sontag said, “What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine.”I think the paradise of Halloween lies in between.Men and women both need a break from themselves, at least on Oct. 31. Women often feel they should brush their hair, wear matching tops and bottoms, and accentuate their prettiest features. We are clean, well-maintained and tidy, like bathrooms in exclusive resorts. Most days, I don’t mind this too much. My hair reacts quite defiantly, and now and then I can’t resist wearing a skirt that reminds me of a mauve sheep, regardless of the color of my shirt or knee-highs, but I present myself as neatly as I can.However, I welcome a little overt sensuality, some polite crudeness and a sense that my face, wardrobe and movements reflect something not exactly me on a temporary, trial-sized basis: a holiday from self-recognition.Society places as many restrictions on men as women, discouraging any “feminine” behavior. If women are resort bathrooms, men are resort toilet plungers: gross but sometimes incredibly valuable.Heterosexual guys aren’t, traditionally, as pristine as the women who love them. They don’t buy three-step skin-care treatments or wear form-fitting denim capris. They don’t like to be considered sensitive by their guy friends – emotionally or physically: They can eat anything, drink anything, lift anything and smack any part of their bodies into a soccer field without giving up.These horribly broad generalizations add up to a very capable and uncomplaining group, a stereotypical member of which needs only junk food, video games (or hunting, physics, collecting Austin Powers action figures, whatever) and a nice girl to be happy. Of course, judging by the number of men I saw in drag this week, they might also need, from time to time, to wear lipstick.We spend years ostensibly figuring out who we are. It only takes a coat of makeup – be it zombie-white or diva-red – to see who else we are.

E-mail any information on the whereabouts of the missing nun to laeditor@ lamonitor.com.