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MAN OF THE HOUSE

An Octomom costume provides a falsie sense of security

November 07, 2009|CHRIS ERSKINE

Our Halloween was so good we would almost like to do it again a week later. The night was crisp and smelled of apples. We hit a couple of wonderful parties, raucous affairs, as befits the day.

The Snickers bars seem to get smaller every Halloween, but not the festivities. Life is candy. Good friends too.

While out trick-or-treating, I crashed one party just to catch up on a football score. They had the game up on their big screen, which you could see from the street. One of the hidden little payoffs of trick-or-treating with the kids is getting to look inside other people's homes.

So, in costume of course, I wander into these strangers' house, where about 10 of them are watching USC snooze to Oregon.

"So what's the score?" I ask.

"Octomom!" someone shouts.

"Where?" I ask, looking around.

Actually, I was the Octomom. It was Posh's idea. She called me at work the previous day and announced she was buying a bunch of babies to pin to a dress.

Now, an Octomom costume is a good idea, assuming you are a woman to begin with. Posh insisted it was an even better idea were I to be the one to dress as Octomom, because men in drag seem to carry with them a certain reverse gravitas.

"Really, you should do it," I told Posh after thinking it over.

"No, you should do it," she insisted, and I detected in her voice a sense of revenge for all my failings of the past 30 years -- the times I forgot the dishes, or left globs of toothpaste in the sink. I am, relatively, not an awful husband at all, but that's only when measured against the other guys. As you know, that's setting the bar at a very modest height.

So I slipped on the dress she bought at Goodwill. Then I added a wig the color of old nickels. Hot.

Then I added the chest pieces -- a couple of balloons, modestly pumped. I've lived in L.A. long enough to know that if a woman wants to stand out in a crowd, she should wear small tasteful breasts, for everyone else has the other kind.

Dignity is a strange thing -- it comes and it goes. But the moment you put on a wig and falsies, you've pretty much given up every shred of anything approaching human dignity. At such a moment, nobility is a distant thought, like whitewall tires or $2 gas.

In fact, in drag a man becomes a different creature -- a mysterious confection. For the first time ever, I was the hottest woman in the room.

"Octomom!" people shouted, and suddenly I felt the tug of celebrity and unconditional love, all the things I dread in life.

"Oh, look, it's Octo . . . something!" I heard over and over.

I was astounded how quickly folks got the concept, for the only thing that separated me from every other Halloween floozy were the eight toy babies that Posh had pinned to my dress.

"Jon & Kate Plus 8?!!" guessed one person.

"Close enough," I said.

House to house we went, past other people's pumpkins, which seem to get more artful every year. My jack-o'-lanterns always look like self-portraits -- a little bloated, as if they had a six-pack with dinner. You could carve them with a corkscrew.

And as the night proceeded, the Octomom comments became more reckless. At one point, my balloons flipped around, nozzle side out, and it looked like I was chilled, in the womanly manner of '70s-era sitcom actresses.

"I just caught myself," one dad confessed, "looking down your blouse."

He wasn't really that ashamed either. The guy wrote it off as a male reflex. Me, I probably should've been more offended.

"Get him a drink, he's boring me!" one mom yelled.

"Yeah, get me a drink," I stammered.

Women are weird. First of all, you wouldn't believe how competitive some of them became. Sure, I was working it a little, but I've seen enough old Milton Berle skits to know that, while wearing the enemy's uniform, it's best to be unaffected and very deadpan.

Danielle, for one, saw me as an instant rival, though I have no interest in her husband, John, or any man in her life except maybe myself.

Second of all, the women became obsessed with my chest pieces, way more than the men. At one of the parties, they kept arranging the falsies in different ways. They pushed them together so I had cleavage. Let me just say this about cleavage: Even on a man, it looks good.

In the end, it was a worthy gag, and everyone had fun with it, particularly Posh, the only person I really need to please, after all. She giggled like a schoolgirl at almost everything. For a moment, I thought my outfit might add a whole new dimension to our torrid little relationship.

But Halloween is tiring -- heavy food, lots of walking. We both fell asleep about 10.

--

chris.erskine@latimes.com

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