In 7th grade, I was invited by Kelly Phillips (now Kelly Shulz) to her house for a Halloween party with the really good looking girls in Carter Junior High (yes, Cathy Currie, I am talking about you). My costume? I dressed up as Gandalf the Grey from the Lord of the Rings.
I had read the trilogy about four times at that point, and Gandalf was BY FAR my favorite character. The Servant of the Secret Fire of Arnor? Coming back from death after defeating a Balrog? Are you kidding me? Nobody rocks harder than Gandalf. Or so I thought…
There were a couple of problems with my plan. First, nobody had read the Lord of the Rings except from some pot-smoking dudes in college my brother’s age. Nobody knew who the hell Gandalf was. Second, the costume was poorly executed, so, instead of looking like a bad ass wizard with the power of FIRE, I looked like a cross-dressing witch. Third, did I mention I was trying to IMPRESS the cute girls?
So, I ride my blue moped in the wizard/witch costume. I am precariously carrying a staff I made from a tree from a “across 14 Mile Road”–an empty forest where my older brother and his friends would go to enjoy some “Mother Nature”.
I made it to Kelly’s house and was ushered to the basement. Kelly went all out. We had a blast. We watched the movie “Halloween” and pitied poor Jamie Lee Curtis. We drank too much soda and ate too much sugar. I spent most of the night explaining to all of the cute girls that I was NOT, in fact, a cross-dressing witch–I was this REALLY cool and tough dude named Gandalf. If I had been smart, I could have claimed to be dressed up as David Bowie or Simon Le Bon, but, no, I doubled-down on the Gandalf bit and stridently insisted he was extremely cool. Nevertheless, it was a great time. Although, it was a LONG time before I was ever invited to another party. Hmmmm…
Anyway, as I was cleaning out my parent’s house, I am came across boxes of old photos. Imagine my amusement when I found this one of my great uncle from Malta, Oliver St. John. This photo is at least 110 years old:
Yes, cross-dressing apparently runs in the Maltese side of the family. Or, at least, a wacky sense of humor.
Smile today and think of a crazy kid on a moped unintentionally cross-dressing as a witch. “You shall not pass!”