This is just perfect for a Catholic Halloween. Federico Fellini has outdone himself.
Back in my wild and crazy youth I occasionally bent over backwards to prove it. Usually I had help which only served to make me think what I was about to do was actually not wild and crazy. Some of that help came in a liquid form. Anyway, one Halloween a friend and I decided to do Halloween in a big way. The downtown bars were each holding costume parties and we decided no one but us should win. My friend happened to be a young priest with keys to a closet full of pre Vatican II vestments, including copes and chasubles full of brocade, embroidery, and gold thread. It was a costume seeking junkies dream come true. Especially if the costume junky was looking for the perfect costume to transform herself into Pope Joan. Which of course I did. Fellini would have been proud.
My friend, the priest, did his best to transform himself into a Borgia Pope. I forget which one, but who ever it was, that Pope loved lace, owned a ton of jewelry, used a gallon of perfume and was color blind. We were quite the sight walking down the main drag with our utterly real costumes, stomping the ground with our utterly real crosiers. We won a lot of costume contests and had a very good time.
As the night wore one I realized all this clerical regalia was really hot and really heavy, and that Pope Joan could easily have had a baby underneath it all with no one the wiser. I think at one point some inebriated person actually asked where my baby was hidden. Of course I took appropriate offense but so did someone else. Someone who did not think our costuming was at all funny or appropriate, but in fact it was quite sacrilegious. This person turned us into the bishop. Party poop.
I personally did not have to meet with the real Bishop because I was not personally in possession of the key to the vestry. My friend was not so lucky. Both of us got stuck with a truly monstrous dry cleaning bill which irritated us because we had been ever so careful not to get anything dirty. We also got to spend the next four weekends driving the Mission circuit, he saying Mass and me providing the music. So much for my week end social life.
I can remember during one of these Mission weekends we were trying to determine if the whole Halloween thing had been worth it. We pretty much decided it had been -except for the dry cleaning bill--because we truly thought those vestments and the kind of Church they represented were a thing of the past, but that the vestments were beautiful enough that they deserved one last hurrah amongst the people before they were permanently hidden away in a storage closet. We also thought we might actually see a Pope Joan in our lifetime. Turns out we were wrong. Not just about Pope Joan or the vestments, but about what was really stored in those clerical closets. That hidden reality turned out to be a very very real horror story for too many Catholic children. In the meantime it's back to lace, jewelry, perfume, and gold embroidery and there is no way in the world I would ever try that stunt again. Instead of dry cleaning bill I'd probably wind up with community service of a different sort.