What, then, was I thinking? Why did I refuse to dress up like a cowboy when I knew refusing to dress up like a cowboy would make me feel even more self-conscious than a cowboy dressed up like a pirate at a ninja convention? I'll tell you why: I have principles - and, by God, I stick to my principles, regardless of the crushing psychological damage it does me.
That's right: my refusal to dress like a cowboy this year had nothing to do with any overblown opposition to the way themed events demand conformity - in truth, I love conformity - and everything to do with my deep-seated distaste for the Wild West.
I believe my aversion to all things cowboy stretches back to the terrifying line-dancing epidemic that swept the nation in the early-to-mid 90s, leaving billions of ruined lives in its wake. Whenever I try to reflect on that period of my childhood, all I can remember is row upon row of identical zombies sporting bolo ties, flannel shirts, and cowboy hats, marching in lockstep around the sawdust floor of a smoky, foul-smelling honky-tonk to the commands of that mulleted, achy-breaky moron Billy Ray Cyrus.
I can't even watch "Back to the Future Part III" without suffering debilitating flashbacks, so you might imagine that I felt darn-near petrified surrounded by hundreds of "Adirondack Cowboys" during Carnival - but you'd be wrong. Sure, I contended with a touch of healthy paranoia, but when it comes to Winter Carnival, it takes a lot more than legions of cowboy-hat-wearing automatons to kill my joy.
Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at email@example.com or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.