Monday, November 5, 2007

Puuqtaluk Past


Would you dance alone in front of an audience...all eyes on you?

1 (8%)...No way! They don't make a good enough costume for that!
9 (75%)...Maybe, if I could wear a disguise.
2 (16%)...No problem! Who needs a costume?

A few friends and relatives have asked about the year that I participated in Puuqtaluk. I have to admit that I could never have done it without the disguise. I envy those two brave individuals who indicated in the poll that they wouldn't even need a costume to dance in front of a crowd. All I can say to that is...yikes! My enthusiasm for personal humiliation falls squarely with the majority...maybe even toward the lower end of the scale.

For me, doing Puuqtaluk was a stretch. But, I have to admit, the whole experience was a total blast. From finding over-sized men's clothes at a thrift store in Anchorage...to applying brown eye shadow over my entire face to hide my ethnicity...it was all one big hilarious challenge. I stuffed three (or was it four?) pillows in the shirt and pants. And I wore three shirts (one a turtle neck) and muscle-man padding that I'd found with the discounted Halloween costumes. That added several inches to my arms, chest, and stomach (muscular inches...don't you think?) and helped to round out the overall physique. I had to stuff about forty plastic grocery bags into the size 11 men's work boots, in both the feet and the legs, just to keep them on. Men's gloves and a 52 inch belt finished off the ensemble. It was important to find the largest belt possible because I had noticed at previous Puuqtaluk competitions that contestants often stuffed their clothes with pillows, but used a small belt which made their identity easier to guess. So, I was sneaky. I kept stuffing and stuffing until I felt like Old West Santa...much harder to identify.

It took a while, but I finally found the photos. Some of you have already seen these. As I warned back then...I'll warn again...brace yourself! Puuqtaluk costumes, in general, are not for the faint of heart and mine was no exception. I think the thing that made my disguise rather unsettling was that it was somewhat realistic. People did a lot of double-takes as they looked my way. Children stared from a distance, unsure if I was Puuqtaluk-ing or actually a strange man lurking in the corner. Even adults steered clear as they walked past me, avoiding eye contact. At the end, when I pulled off the mask, there was a loud, "Aathaaa!" which, loosely translated, is Eskimo for, "Holy cow!" My students were amazed and exceedingly proud that their teacher had danced in public, fooled everyone, and even won second place. They were also more than a little interested in my prize money!

*********************
I took these photos at my principal's house on the way to the community center that night. My principal was sitting on the couch and kept stealing glances at me and then looking away. He said, "I know it's you because I recognize your voice, but that get-up is just creeping me out!"

Cowboy Close Up

Go ahead, admit it. You know you're jealous of my natural beauty!

Cowboy Dancing

His daughter was a little braver...too funny!

Cowboy with Principal's Daughter

10 comments:

Steve said...

Now see, you've made everybody afraid to comment! That last photo is super creepy!

Good story and pictures.

Kimberlee said...

LOL! You may be right, Steve. The pictures really are creepy and, I have to say, "the man" was even creepier in person.

I guess everyone has been rendered speechless!

Thanks for overcoming your fear.
:)

Lucia said...

Now, I've always prided myself on saying I never forget a face but I certainly wouldn't have known that was my sweet, firstborn niece that I took care of as a baby.

Good grief, if you were second....what did first look like?

Looks like great fun. Always said you get all your talent from your favorite aunt.

Kimberlee said...

Well, Lucia, I have to say, I'm pretty relieved that I wasn't easy to recognize. If people would have been able to tell it was me...now THAT would have been REALLY scary!

If I'm remembering correctly, the first place winner was wearing men's underwear on the outside of her clothes (not boxers) and had a real frozen fish tied to her ankle which she dragged around behind her.

No competing with that!
:)

Johnny said...

OH MY GOSH!!!
Never in a million years would I have guessed that it was you!

Kimberlee said...

Thanks, Johnny! I'll take that as a compliment!

It was really an interesting experience...being totally anonymous. One thing I forgot to include in the blog posting is that I also walked with a limp. I guess I just wanted to be sure...
(As if trying to move with all those pillows and layers wasn't enough!)

LOL!

Thanks for checking in!
:)

Kippi said...

Alright, Gracie and I can't stop laughing. You look awesome. Gracie says she hopes you have a Happy Thanksgiving and she wants to come to your house and you send great pictures. We love your blog!

Kippi

Kimberlee said...

Hey, Kippi! That costume was probably a difficult thing for Gracie to get her head around, huh? I should have taken a picture with my dogs...that would have helped! :) I'm just glad it inspired giggles instead of...something else! I can't believe that Thanksgiving is almost here! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday too. Thanks for visiting!

Gracie, I am SO HAPPY to get to share my blog with you! Hug your Nana for me...when you see her!

Dawn said...

I'm with Mike and Steve. That costume, although certainly a great disguise, gives me the willies. When you sent it to me last year, I loaded it into my photo program and looked at it on a regular basis, trying ever so hard to find Kimberlee somewhere inside it. No luck! I liked you much better as Raggety Ann.

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Dawn. Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, that get-up did turn out a little too life like for comfort. I was lucky in that, except for these photos, I never had to look at myself once I left home. :)

One odd thing was that Rudy (old dog) wasn't bothered by it at all. Being the dog that barks at big parkas...that seemed strange, but once he heard my voice, he wagged his tail and cozied right up to me as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I'm not sure if that was a good sign or bad! LOL

Maybe voice recognition is more important to dogs than visual (I'm no dog psychologist) or maybe dogs see something we don't because they aren't distracted by an unattractive exterior. They care more about the heart than the face. I remember thinking about that for a while after Puuqtaluk last year. Then I sort of put the idea away when I packed up the costume. Thanks for reminding me of it again.