As a former goth girl, Halloween has always been a special time for me. It’s when everyone else finally caught up with what I’d been up to all year.
Of course, I’ve been less goth since my teens and early 20s, but I still enjoy wearing black and listening to Bauhaus and Skinny Puppy, especially in the fall. While some people associate fall with squash and leaf-peeping—a term that I just learned this year and sounds a little lewd for such a wholesome pastime—I break out my goth/industrial favorites around this time. There’s “Release the Bats” by the Birthday Party, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus, “Halloween” by the Misfits (technically punk, but appropriate) and, of course, “Every Day is Halloween” from Ministry.
During my mid- to late-20s, I’d often slipped into a lazy tradition of Josie and the Pussycats, though I spent hours a few years ago sewing timely bed bug costumes. I also dressed up for a few years for my favorite Bikram yoga studio’s annual Hot-a-Ween classes. Since it’s hot yoga, finding a costume that you can sweat and move in for an hour-and-a-half is a challenge, but it’s fun, and people get really creative. In the past, I’ve been Pebbles from The Flintstones (with a leopard-print top and hair bone) and a smartwater bottle, though most people couldn’t tell what I was.
But this Halloween had special meaning to me, since I was bald and no longer confined by my hair. An entirely new look had opened up a host of costume ideas. As, I’d mentioned before, I could be Sinead O’Connor, scolding a host of scantily-clad VMA Miley Cyruses. But I’ve known what I’ve wanted to be since this summer, when I ordered a porkpie hat. I would be Heisenberg, Walter White’s alter-ego on Breaking Bad.
I had my hat, and ordered blue rock candy for my meth and glasses. I bought a green button-up man’s shirt and khaki pants and borrowed my boyfriend’s belt and sunglasses for the full Heisenberg effect. And, of course, I had to buy a beard. I couldn’t find a reddish beard, so I had to settle for a dark one that I cut to mimic Walt’s facial hair.
Like my oyster obsession, though, I’d become a little too focused on the idea of my Halloween costume to the point where I was about to take the fun out of it. We are going to go out and we are going to have fun. I’ve never been into weddings at all and I’m really blasé about most holidays, so I suppose the closest I get to event-freakout moments are around Halloween. At least I get a little scary at the appropriate time of year.
I had a tearful breakdown around the night before Halloween, explaining to my boyfriend why I felt like I was getting a little crazy. I’ve been upbeat about it, but I still lost my hair to chemo. The hair loss really doesn’t bother me very much, and I’ve just been keeping my (bald) head down and marching forward, but sometimes this all catches up to me. I was hell-bent on making the most of my baldness on Halloween.
That day, the main place where I’ve been freelancing was finishing up a big project, and I knew I’d be at their office late. Now, this office is the one place—the only place—I wear my wig. I think most people don’t even notice my hair, since I’m not there very often. Still, I don’t really feel like I should draw attention to myself as the bald cancer lady.
So a lot of the full-time office people dressed up for Halloween, but I didn’t—officially. I was wearing my wig, so I felt disguised. It was weird I was wearing a wig, then taking it off to be in costume.
During lunch break, after purchasing a beard, I decided to get my head re-shaved during lunch break to save on getting-ready time. I popped into the salon closest to the office and approached the woman dressed as a mouse at the front desk. I figured this place would appreciate the Halloween-inspired shave.
Despite the scary nature of the holiday, I didn’t want to alarm anyone by suddenly removing my hair. “I need to get my hair re-shaved,” tugging up a portion of my wig a bit. I got my head shaved, and some nice tingly stuff put on my scalp, donned my wig and returned to work, free of the half-inch of hair that had grown in sporadically.
Since my hair had been coming back a little, I wasn’t sure if I should shave my head for Halloween. But I knew Heisenberg would be a popular Halloween costume, and I knew I had to commit. Would Walter White settle for meth that was only 90 percent pure? No! So I would not be some shoddy Heisenberg. Plus, my hair was growing, but all of it wasn’t growing in yet, and it started to look patchy. (I’m happy to report it’s now all evenly growing in, as is my facial hair—just in time for Movember, though I will probably visit the threading salon.)
At the office, as one thing popped up after the other, I felt my Halloween evening slipping away. When I’d noticed cones going up on the street around lunchtime, I realized that the office was also located along the route of the Halloween parade. If you’ve been stranded on one side of the parade while some of your friends and a party are on the other, it’s no fun; I speak from experience.
So I knew I was racing against the parade clock, as well as my own deadline for getting out of the office in time to go out. By this point, I’d calmed down a little bit and decided that as long as I went out in costume—and took photos, of course—it was going to be OK. I just had to get home and into costume.
I didn’t leave the office until 7:15 or 7:30. I said goodbye to my manager as she walked toward Union Square to catch the train and I walked in the opposite direction to take the F home. Then I realized I was blocked in. I was on the phone with my boyfriend, walking back towards Union Square when I saw my co-worker heading toward me, We realized we were trapped. Sixth Avenue was a loss—even the sidewalks were blocked, so the officer standing guard directed us to another street to walk to the next stop.
I finally got home and changed and walked with my boyfriend, who was dressed as a zombie. And I made sure we took photos, including some with my cats. (As you’ll recall, I’m the sad cat lady who spent an entire evening making Breaking Bad-inspired cat costumes.)
We went to a bar where member of my fitness boot camp were having drinks. I used to work out with them more, but as I’ve been easing back in to working out, I think I should be able to count the hoists of a giant beer mug as reps on Fitocracy for now. (Alas, I’m still not cleared for Bikram yoga, otherwise I would have been tightie-whities Walt for class.) Most people realized I was Walter White, except for someone who thought I was a Hasidic guy, with the hat and beard. I really did look more like a little Jewish man than Heisenberg, especially in a photo my boyfriend took, as we had a late dinner.
I got a few calls from the street! “Hey, Heisenberg!” But perhaps the greatest compliment to my costume was that people thought I was a man. After dinner, we stopped by a place where a friend was putting on a Halloween show and we caught a band dressed as the guys from The Taking of Pelham One Two Three—the 1974 version, not the remake.
As I walked in, I spotted a fellow Heisenberg out of the corner of my eye. I was going to talk to him later, but we didn’t stay long because my zombie companion had to work early the next day. But I overheard my fellow Walter White say to his companions, “That guy did an OK job, with the green shirt.” So from one Heisenberg to another, I consider that high praise.