I had a most unusual experience last October.
Ann and I were invited to a Hallowe'en party and a Masquerade Ball this year. Not only that, but most of the people who attended the Ball also attended the party. The Ball had nothing to do with
Hallowe'en, but in order to be "with it," we had to wear costumes. Ann went to the Ball as Queen of a smaller, less pretentious monarchy, (one that doesn't accept foreign aid from the US) and I went as a jester. Because most of the people who attended one party also attended the other, we decided that we had to have two separate costumes. Praise be to the gods of thread, Ann's an excellent seamstress.
[quoteright]I don't know if I've mentioned it or not but Ann is an honest-to-God farmer's daughter, and her education included not only the complete works of Shakespeare, charm school, modeling school and some oceanography, but also cooking, sewing, and several other forms of needlecraft. She's the only person that I know who can churn butter and bake a cake starting with plain, ordinary flour. She's an amazing lady.
Anyway, back to the unusual experience.
Ann decided that she needed a crown to go with her Queen's costume. She considered making one but decided to look around to see what's available in ready-made crowns. She, being the resourceful lady that she is, asked me where she could get a crown.
It just so happens that I do know where you can get crowns.
And a lot of other neat stuff as well.
Despite the name, Hollywood Magic is on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa. I learned of the place several years ago, when I made the mistake, of going to a Hallowe'en party as the Jolly Green Giant. I bought several sticks of green grease paint there. That my choice of costumes was a mistake will be readily attested to by the hostess of the party. It took her several weeks to eradicate the evidence (green) of my passing. She claims to have found green grease paint in the attic of her house. I do not recall being in her attic at any time, and unless the stuff migrates by itself, I claim total innocence.
Anyway, back to Hollywood Magic. We went there on a Saturday. The place was crowded, but having been there many times before, I knew where we wanted to go. We went and looked at crowns. Ann didn't find exactly what she wanted, so we started to look around the rest of the store. That's when I noticed some of the other customers. Let me describe the first lady that came to my attention. She had pink and purple hair that was standing on end as if she had her finger in a light socket. I looked for an extension cord, and, finding none, was forced to assume that she used Elmer's Glue for hair spray. She was wearing one green and one orange leg warmer, along with a yellow blouse and camouflage army trousers. She had no shoes.
On the other side of the store was a young man who had blond hair, but it was cut so that there was a single clump of it sticking up in the middle of his head, very much like an old fashioned shaving brush. He was wearing brown trousers, very baggy, and with cuffs. He had a red T-shirt that was cut off just below his armpits and had several holes in it. He wore a rhinestone belt several inches below his belt loops, and suspenders. His ensemble was finished off with purple boots with gold tassels.
These people were looking for Hallowe'en costumes.
I couldn't resist the urge that came over me. I walked up to the lady in the army trousers and, as if I worked there, said "May I help you?"
"I'm looking for a costume to wear to a Hallowe'en party."
"Do you see anything you like?"
"Well, all this stuff is so...ordinary."
"I see. Well, it's our policy to do whatever we can for our customers. Since you don't see anything here that you like, may I suggest another store where you may find something?"
"Oh, please do."
"There's a place in South Coast Plaza called the May Company. They have things there like skirts and blouses and dresses. I believe that they may have pantyhose and shoes. In the hardware department, they may even have Elmer's Glue Remover."
Her face lit up with excitement. "That's it! That's it! Oh, thank you so much!" And, with that, she ran from the store.
I'm sure the folks at Hollywood Magic wouldn't mind that I sent a prospective customer somewhere else. After all, they didn't have what she was looking for.
Anyway, I'll bet that she was the hit of her party.
BILL HARVEY, the sage of Southern California, has appeared many times in this magazine. He also self-publishes collections of his unique essays.
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