Halloween – a time for costumes, trick-or-treating, ghost stories, scantily-clad women, and of course the chance for a middle-schooler to have some haunting moments. My two spooky tales of red cheeks and anti-social, self-conscious awkwardness take place on the Halloweens of my 11th and 13th blessed years on earth.
At age 11, my friends and I had decided we were going to be hula dancers. At this time in my life, I hardly felt 11. I was already being called ma’am. I was as tall as I was going to get, tower over the others in my class. My +11 vision correction was written all over my face, along with new appendages called pimples. It seemed as if I was the only one at school with these new zits. To hide them I would secretly pack liquid concealer in a Ziploc bag inside my backpack and take it to the restroom with me. I would just about die when someone would ask me if I was wearing makeup.
To upset my world even more, fifth grade was also the year when my classmates began their one-week relationships. I decided to ditch my friends and spend Halloween in Sioux City, IA, with my cousins, Patrick and Andrew.
The day before Halloween, we all went to my cousin Ben’s football game. I was so nervous to talk to my cousin Pat’s friends that I stayed next to my aunt and uncle the whole time.
One of his friends, who must have been curious, came and sat by us for a time. I watched him as he whispered and chuckled into my cousin’s ear. My cousin, being the good person he was, told me what he said. “He said you look like a bug.”
Thanks, glasses. My hurt feelings returned with me to my uncle’s house, where I had to spend more time with boys. I had long time wished that I had a girl cousin my own age, but since my uncle had seven kids and six of them were boys, this wish wasn’t worth my time.
My 14-year-old cousin Christopher had his friends over. This is when it happened – the worst thing that could happen to a girl, a striking inescapable feeling that was never to leave. It was happening…I was beginning to like boys.
His name was Dusty. He had blond curly hair. Although my face was burning and my heart was racing, I had to be near him. This new feeling I had was awful. I thought I liked boys before, but somehow this was different. It was like an addiction now. Everywhere I went, I had to find one and stare, stare at the backs of their heads and daydream about our future life together. I always seemed to choose the altar boys at mass. I would watch them. I felt like they knew.
To me, even scarier than liking a boy was one liking me back. So this Halloween tale is really the tale of when I became trapped in the prison known as liking the male gender, though it didn’t happen precisely on Halloween. (My cousin Pat abandoned my 9-year-old cousin Andrew and me to trick-or-treat with the dorky neighbor kid. Andrew didn’t really have a costume so he told the old ladies that he was a bum.)
On my 13th Halloween, I had what I thought was this great idea of being my mom. I am not sure what I was thinking, maybe that I was insanely clever, but no one seemed to understand. I was already over the holiday. I felt too old and not cute enough to trick-or-treat but I went anyway.
My mom is a pretty well-known real-estate agent in my hometown of Lincoln, NE. I found the shoulder-padded red blazer in the closet, got myself a white turtleneck, and blew up my mom’s face on our scanner. My friend Lucy and I had done a little trick-or-treating in the evening, but there was talk of going to Denny’s Halloween party.
I feared this. Jason had already had the first boy-girl party, where I had one dance with a boy a foot shorter than I was. During that first dance, I searched around anxiously above his head, then asked, “Where did you go?” Anything to lighten up this sorry picture. I had deemed this party: failure.
Lucy decided that we were going to Denny’s anyway. It was down in the basement and everyone was crammed in. There was loud music and loud people. I already wanted to leave. And Joe was there.
Joe was my brother’s best friend and for some reason the boy I had a crush on for most of my childhood. He had recently walked in on me peeing. Needless to say he ruined the experience, but now he has a special place in my heart every time I pee. Since peeing is mandatory activity, I cannot go a day without thinking about him.
I really did not want to be there. I even went upstairs and sat with the adults. The angel that is Sara LeDuc found me. She didn’t like that I wasn’t having fun. Her pity led her to sacrifice her evening to play board games with me. As we played, I hoped upon hope that someone would walk in on Joe peeing.
That evening, I realized I was not like the others. How could loud music, tight spaces, and lots of people be fun? Why could I not thrive in that environment? Did I hate people? Sadly, loud music, tight spaces, and lots of people were and still are people’s recipe for fun.
There you have it, my ghoulish good times as an awkward Halloweener! Those times are over but the memories of those nights live on in my nervous heart and red cheeks. When will I ever get to be like the other kids?