Friday, October 29, 2010

Getting Paid to Make a Halloween Costume

Every year, my workplace has a Halloween Costume contest. I never dress up, although sometimes I'll halfheartedly wear a clown face or a pirate head wrap with a fake earring. Then after the contest, I get inspired and start planning for next year.

It was the same this year, too. I was shaving this morning, and I had done nothing to prepare. As usual I started getting all kinds of amazing ideas for costumes. This time was a little different, though. I felt strong motivation to do something.

So the last-minute idea I settled on was to wear a homemade Albert Einstein mask, which would go along with my naturally unruly gray (or white) hair. All I had to do was find a suitable picture of Einstein's face, scale it to life size, perhaps crop off any background imagery, print it out, pop eye-holes into the paper, and tape it on my head. I would borrow a lab coat from work and tape a homemade name tag to it to complete the likeness. "I can do this!" I thought to myself.

So before I left for work, I started step one, which was to find a suitable picture. Unfortunately, there were no high resolution pictures of Einstein in which he faces the camera straight on. Also I came across unsettling and disrespectful caricatures of him. That made me depressed, so I abandoned the plan.

But then I had an even better plan -- I would dress as the president of my company. It was a brilliant idea, I thought.

All during my commute, I imagined the plan. And when I got to my desk, I got started right away.

First, I searched the network for pictures of the boss. I found a great picture of him that was taken with his family during a company picnic. I had to crop it and enlarge it greatly, and then rotate the face about 7 degrees. I did all this in The GIMP, an amazing multi-platform, Photoshop-like freeware program that I use to fix up some of my photographs.

Finally done, I printed out his perpetually grinning face, cut the eye-holes out and cut away the excess blank parts around the chin. I affixed the tape to the mask right at eye level. Then I borrowed the boss's lab coat, and taped the mask to the sides of my eyeglasses.

The time came for the contest, so I worked my way to the cafeteria. I had to go slow -- the mask was hard to see through because I made the eye-holes fairly small (about 1/4 inch).

I entered the cafeteria. I cannot describe the effect I had on everyone who turned to look at me!

Jaws dropped in amazement!

Eyes widened with surprise!

Huge smiles formed!

And then the boss walked in. Even he enjoyed the gag. He stood next to me so that we could be photographed together.

The judging commenced. We were vying for one of three prizes, Funniest, Most Scary, and Most Original. The others who dressed up looked great, so I hardly expected to win. After all, most of them put a lot of planning and effort into their costumes. Or they went out and bought an outfit.

Funniest was awarded to SL, whose costume was over-the-top, as usual. He was dressed as a Reno NV sheriff in silk, a la Reno 911.

Most Scary was awarded to JM, aka Moon Man, who wore an astronaut outfit and a plastic ass.

Then I started to worry that I might actually win. Worry? Yes, because most of the other folks aren't paid as well as me. They need the money. They invested a lot more in their costumes and deserved the prize more.

The emcee was looking at the person whom I thought had the most original outfit, but then he called my name. Actually I felt really bad and even considered giving the $100 gift certificate to the other person.

But the amazing thing is that I couldn't detect any hard feelings. And a few folks said that they were glad I won. They talked about how I even had the same mannerisms as the boss. That was mind boggling.

I had completed my costume within 30 minutes after arriving at work, and that includes waiting for the slow computer to log on, searching for the photograph, printing out the image and fetching the lab coat. I even paused to fetch someone a set of three balls that I use for juggling. I didn't have to buy anything -- all the supplies that I used were from work. And I even got paid to work on the costume.

It doesn't get any better than that.

I've wanted to show up as the boss for a few Halloweens. I have the hair for it, but I always imagined that I'd have to grow the beard (or make one).

I'm still glowing with amazement that I won. Wow!


rummuser said...

Congratulations. Your boss must be quite a sport to allow such an impersonation. I cannot think of even one of my many bosses of the past who would have appreciated such impudence!

I would like to see a picture of yours to figure how you would have looked as Einstein!

Square Peg Guy said...

Well, my hair is matted down normally, so I have no pictures of it in its Einstein state.

Square-Peg Karen said...

Oh, I really wish you had a picture in the costume!! Heck, I'd like to see the others too - sounds like a fun day.

What a great post - I love the descriptions of the other costumed folk. Bravo!!

p.s. I love gimp, too!