The 7th Annual IPRC Text Ball was last night and it was a fun, entertaining time. I almost didn’t go.
For starters, I didn’t have a text-inspired costume. But, really, because it’s so hard for me to just wear the skin I’m in.
We all have social anxiety to some extent, even the most extrovert are manifesting a deep down shyness, I think. (Or maybe not. Lucky sods.)
Knowing this, I mitigated myself, and went.
I almost went as a black sky scattered with bright stars. This was my idea on Wednesday, when I was reading Mary Ruefle and a thing she said in an essay about Poetry and the Moon in her collected lectures Madness, Rack, and Honey:
“The great lunacy of most lyric poems is that they attempt to use words to convey what cannot be put into words. On the other hand, stars were the first text, the first instance of gabbiness; connecting the stars, making a pattern out of them, was the first story, sacred to storytellers. But the moon was the first poem…”
It was a good idea for a costume I think but I looked up from my book and it was Friday and too late to shop for stars in the dollar store or cut and stitch constellations. Instead I wore a yellow silk dress and my best don’t be afraid, do not worry, everyone here are only humans smile.
Jonathan Safran Foer wrote: “Shyness is turning your head away from something you want…”
A thing said about masks also helped put my shyness about going to a party into perspective on a very grand scale: “Masks beneath masks until suddenly the bare bloodless skull,” said Salman Rushdie in The Satanic Verses. That’ll get ya out the door on a Saturday night!
My friend Emily gave me a ride and we talked about it. When you say yourself out loud, you are able to see how silly you are. Emily does not enjoy Halloween, that upcoming night of masks and disguises. I like this part of a poem she wrote in her beautiful collection The Grief Performance (it’s so good):
Horror is self-
Choose Halloween costumes
that bore you shitless.
Being afraid and embarrassed of myself bores me shitless. I don’t know if I can step out of that costume though, it fits so snug, like a glove, like an essentially me skin-stitched glove. The thing to do is wear it. But to wear it out, and maybe, in the process wear it away.