Master (Mistress?) of Disguise

on March 30, 2015 in Misc

This week I practiced stalking somebody.

cat stalker

Okay, not stalking.  More like “researching.”  Since I’ve wanted to do Layla training in the search/ track down/ observe department, I chose a guy who done me wrong on a professional level a while back and I hadn’t seen for a while.

So I dug up basic facts about him.  Saw what his neighborhood is like. His work history.  His car.  But I’ve yet to establish if he keeps a regular schedule at his new office, which is a shabby dump compared to the firm where he used to be.  (Was he forced out of that firm?)  But I failed to get his license plates number because I was too worried that he would turn around and see me.  Layla would have had more presence of mind.

Anyway, practicing some detective work is fun.  My next game-plan is… Disguise.


Seriously, the last time I tried on anything resembling a disguise I was twelve years old, it was Halloween, and I wore my homemade ghost costume.  I am SO not a costume-loving lady.  I even get weirded out at the notion of, say, just wearing a wig, glasses, different make-up and strange clothes in public.

Yet not only would Layla be good at it, my character Charity MacCay envies famous women of her time who were spies in the Civil War or detectives for the Pinkerton Agency; they could wear fantastic disguises and even pass themselves off as male soldiers.  In one chapter, Charity has to save herself by dressing as a young sailor boy, which isn’t easy considering her bosom, she’s proud to point out.  Me, I wouldn’t have that problem.

Funny how as writers we create characters who are experts at derring-do, but some such skills make us cringe.  I mean, I’ve put myself through grueling physical stunts and training (YOU try Parkour classes with hyperactive teenage boys), but when it comes to something minor that challenges our comfort zone, we can wimp out.

Well, it’s time I stopped wimping out on the Art of Disguise.  I’m going to put together a couple fake physical identities and then force myself to try them out in real life.  It is gonna feel so weird.

I’d love to know if any of you have similar inhibitions or other challenges that you just… can’t… face.

Have a wonderful week.

12 Responses to “Master (Mistress?) of Disguise”

  1. I would feel weird disguising myself like that. You’ll have to let us know how it turns out. And if that guy recognizes you or not.

  2. The best disguise is to be seen as a function not a person. Who notices the mailman’s face? You just see the uniform. A postal uniform, a bag over the shoulder and you can go most anywhere. In the hospital, a white uniform, white sneakers, and a clipboard in hand and you can walk most halls without drawing attention. On college campus, you walk with a load of books under your arm, and you blend in with all the other students. Older people go to college, too.

    A theory about Jack the Ripper was that it was really Jill the Ripper. Mid-wives were common on the West End, and they often carried large bags with the tools of their trade. With everyone on the lookout for a man, a midwife could walk right up to her next victim without raising alarm.

  3. Helena says:

    Roland – That’s really smart and true! Thing is, unlike most people I do look at people’s faces and I really pick up on details. But most people don’t, and what you say here will be helpful for me. I haven’t heard that theory of Jack the Ripper, and it’s creepy to think it could be the truth.

  4. Helena says:

    Alex – I’m actually thinking of trying it out on a couple other people, but it should be handy for this guy too. Basically, if none of them even look at me, I’ll succeed.

  5. Hmm. I like the fact that you’re exploring things that you admire so much. Have you ever done any cosplay or roleplaying games? I think you’d love them. I play in roleplaying games with other people and they are great fun. Plus there are live action role playing games at conventions. One that pops into my head is based on murder and you have to figure out the killer. I’ve always wanted to go to one of these and I think you would be the perfect companion. Of course, no one is “actually” murdered but the whole thing can be very elaborate with an actual setting and actors, etc.

  6. Helena says:

    Mike – The closest I ever came to role playing was as a kid when friends and I had make-believe games. I didn’t know about the action role games at conventions, but I’ve certainly heard of murder mystery role playing, which could be fun. And hey, I think you’d be my perfect companion at one! Maybe I could dress as a femme fatale for once in my life.

    Funny, when I think of the several relatives I have who have done theater and some pretty serious acting, yet I shy away from such attention-getting parts. But now that I think of it I’ve been in play readings with several fellow writers and we would just read aloud parts in 10-minute plays and the like. If it’s comedy roles, then I enjoyed them. Having grown up on shows like Carol Burnett, I sometimes wanted to do funny skit acting, if only because there’s something so addictive about making people laugh.

  7. Stop by today Helena!

  8. Helena says:

    Alex – Will do, Alex my dear.

  9. Hello! Got here today through Alex’s site where he’s featuring you!

    I can honestly say I’ve never devoted that much time and energy into getting into the heads of one my characters- but it definitely sounds like I should!

  10. Helena says:

    Beverly – In a way, doing exciting stuff my characters do is an excuse to have fun while calling it research.

  11. Hart Johnson says:

    LOVED this. Stalking for research. And you can totally do disguises. I think you almost don’t need a DISGUISE so much as to totally change up style, but if you want pointers, watch Alias on Netflix–Sidney Bristow is totally a master of disguise.

  12. Helena says:

    Hart – Sidney Bristow really is a great role model. There was an episode where she was stuck in a drugstore and a bad guy was outside waiting for her. So she went to the makeup and gift wrapping aisles and glittered herself up like a middle school girl, then left with a group of those girls.