THE MAN IN WHITE

CATEGORY: MORE PORT TOWNSEND

One of my favorite Halloween costume creations for myself was one I wore to a party in Port Townsend.  It was eye catching, but it was a dismal failure.  That turned out to be perfect for the part.

I went as THE MAN IN WHITE from CATCH 22.  In case you have not read that World War II satirical masterpiece, it is the ultimate black comedy about war.  Nobody ever knew who the “man in white” was because he was completely covered in bandages with just a couple of slits for his nose and one for his mouth just large enough for a water straw to be inserted.

For bandages I got some cheap white jersey, the kind T shirts are made of.  I got jersey because it wouldn’t ravel at the edges if I cut them and left them un-hemmed.  I also thought that the stretchy fabric would be more comfortable because it would flex a little and I would be able to bend.  I cut it in 3” wide strips and sewed the ends together, making what seemed like miles of bandages.  Then I rolled them into huge rolls.  For the face and neck, I placed cheese cloth over my head and taped over it with adhesive tape, cutting holes for nose, eyes and mouth.  A friend helped me and afterwards cut the whole headpiece up the back so I could get out of it.  I put a zipper in the slit so it would be wearable.  I still have this mask.

On the night of the party, a friend came to my house and wrapped me in the bandages.  First we bound my chest very tight in towels secured with safety pins, because I was supposed to be a man.  Then the bandages went around and around——and AROUND.  It took a long time to wrap me up.  

When I got to the party, the stretchy jersey fabric soon proved my undoing. It didn’t just stretch for comfort; it stretched from movement and body heat and started to come loose at the elbows and knees–and at the seat if I sat. When it came loose at the knees, it sagged up the legs and was soon hanging in loops.  Fortunately I was wearing long underwear underneath.  Because my hands were bandaged also, I could not put my bandages back together again.  I had to go home.  It was just as well because the mouth in the mask was too small and too stiff to enable its inhabitant to either eat or drink any of the refreshments.  But it was successful in that it resembled the real MAN IN WHITE.  He couldn’t eat or drink either, and he disappeared before anyone knew who he was.  It was a perfect re-enactment. Talk about Da-daism!