Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Stop me if you've heard this before...

...but the lovely Joan's comment in my last entry dredged up a happy memory once chronicled in my old journal. Since I have a (mostly) different readership now, let me set the Wayback Machine to some 25 or so years ago to share it with you again.

My then-wife (a Canadian) and I were invited to a Hallowe'en party and were somewhat at a loss for possible costumes. She was looking through some of her clothes and came up with a genuine straight-from-India sari. Turned out she knew how to correctly wind a turban*, too.

Problem solved.

At the time I could do a better-than-passable Indian accent, learned in the Indian restaurants and grocery stores of Vancouver, BC (her previous home), along with a little extra dialog coaching from a book called "With Clive in India." So we hied ourselves off to a store in Hollywood where we stocked up on theatrical makeup and "washable" hair dye.

I had a suit (circa 1939 and complete with the widest damn lapels you've ever seen on a suit jacket), which I inherited from my father, and a bizarre hand-painted silk tie. We found a piece of fabric that could serve as a turban, and voila.

On went the makeup -- I had fun applying the appropriate red mark on her forehead, more fun making sure she was dark-skinned well below the line of the sari, but that's a different story -- and she did the turban, darkened my skin and dyed my hair and beard jet-black.

And off we went.

The party was being hosted by a couple who were then close friends. I had known the guy for more than 10 years; we shared an apartment for about a year after high school.

I rang the doorbell, my friend answered the door, and -- in my best New Delhi-ese -- I asked if this was perhaps the ----- residence. I went on to say we had heard there was a party and hoped our presence would not be intrusive.

He didn't recognize me. Nor did he recognize J., whom he also knew well.

What's better is that no one else -- including a couple of women I was very (you might say intimately) familiar with -- recognized us. I struggled a bit, but kept the accent going, and so did J. One poor lass spent some time asking me about India...about all I could tell her was that it is very hot place with much humidity and oh, yes, the Taj Mahal is most beauteous structure, fine place for all to see. And yes, Hindustan Ambassador is most excellent automotive transport, though perhaps not so fine as a Mahindra, which goes anywhere.

Midnight came, and the mask-wearers revealed themselves. I complimented many well-costumed persons.

Finally, I unwound the turban and reverted to my normal voice, to the surprise of all in the room. No, J. did not unwrap her sari.

It was one of the funniest evenings of my life. I wish J. hadn't taken the photo of us from that night when she moved out....

The skin dye vanished with the first careful scrubbing. I had black hair for a week.

* I have no idea where she picked up this skill. She could do some strange things....

1 comment:

joan said...

That is too funny! I love it. My Dad sent his moth a picture of himself in a turban and she didn't know who it was. Reminds me of a story too.....perhaps for this evening! Thanks for the smile.