When I first moved to NJ, I went trick-or-treating with my friend Jen in fifth grade, and she had this kick-*ss costume her mother made her–she was a gigantic Lipton tea bag. Like her baseball cap had a string and label attached and her entire body was covered in this rectangle, white pale bag which made her look like, you know, a gigantic bag of tea. It was awesome. I told her that I remembered going as a Korean for Halloween that year, which in addition to being redundant, is like the laziest costume you can come up with. (And if you don’t know what this means, you just don a traditional Korean outfit, and presto). That year, we had another lazy trick-or-treater in our posse–Mayumi Negishi, who went as a Japanese person in this spectacular kimono.
But peel back another layer of memory–during the school day on Halloween, I had another costume on. I had been dressed up as a movie star. In Staten Island, where I had moved from, the costume was a hit, made up of my mother’s huge sun hat, blouse, skirt, scarf, every necklace in the house, topped off with her Elton John-esque, huge clear plastic 70s sunglasses decked out in rhinestones and flowers. Dude, I thought I was hot stuff, glamorous, completely undercover in this rocking awesome, get-up, and happily went trick-or-treating with my cousins Ed and Aim…who that year were dressed as Koreans. (It’s kind of a standard standby).
In NJ, my new school, I thought I’d relive this glory in the school’s Halloween day parade. I didn’t really think about the fact that this was a much wealthier, more sophisticated school than my old one, so some of the costumes were so good I still remember them. Patrick Marquez was Pac Man–someone in his family had created a gigantic, yellow, cardboard sphere, that covered Patrick except for his legs. Inside his Pac Man globe, Patrick wore an eye mask that made his eyes like Pac Man’s eyes–mini-inverted, black Pac Men for pupils. He was so in character (he couldn’t see, but man, the attention to detail.) It’s cool, it’s cool, I tell myself. I’m still strutting my ten-year-old stuff (this must have been after the mullet perm grew out a bit) in my movie star costume. Then I saw Marissa Baumann, also dressed as a movie star, but not in a garage sale way. She literally looked like she had walked off a 1940s red carpet, in a floor-length blue gown, fur stole, elbow-length gloves, and cigarette holder. And when she asked what I was supposed to be, I noticed she had blue eye shadow and mascara on and experienced one of those inner-flower-crumpling moments. I could have said “I’m Dustin Hoffman in ‘Tootsie,'” but you know, comebacks only come to you long after you need them.
Of course, when I see the Staten Island photos, I don’t look like a movie star. More like a weird interpretation of my mom…(or seriously, I did kind of look like Dustin Hoffman.) Eh, but who cares, I looked psyched and I had fun. No lesson here. It’s good to have these moments where you’re a legend in your own mind.