Becky Portman: My last Halloween (an elegy)
You walk into a bar on Halloween dressed as Margot Robbie dressed as Sharon Tate from Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” You spent 20 dollars and six hours trying to put on fake eyelashes and the bar is empty. The guy dressed as Austin Powers you flirted with at Rick’s on Tuesday isn’t there, your roommates who couldn’t decide on a trio costume that wasn’t “Mamma Mia” or the Kardashians aren’t there. The only other person there is a girl approximately your height also in a black turtleneck, also in an a-line, white, mini skirt, also in white go-go boots, also rocking the same flawless, golden locks. Like Carrie Bradshaw, you couldn’t help but wonder, is that girl you? Or is she, perhaps, a Kafkaesque manifestation of your own sense of self? She looks at you, you look at her, and in the pornographic version of this story, you two furiously make out. But this isn’t the pornographic version of this story, so you look at each other for an extra second or two before she wonders aloud: Are you also Sharon Tate? You blink your fake eyelashes a little too forcefully in an enthusiastic nod. She drags you to the dance floor where her friends have assembled as the entire cast of the movie you are both dressed up as. So much for trying to be original.
Your friends enter the bar dressed as a combination of Selena Gomez, Avril Lavigne and a sexual fantasy. The same guy flirts with all of you. He is dressed as nothing. Not the concept, which would’ve been more interesting. I guess you could say he is dressed as Jared from Saginaw who is a senior studying economics. Or you could say he is dressed as nothing.
You pose for too many pictures and try to suck in your gut so much that you almost give yourself a stomach aneurysm, if that’s even a thing. You drink shots of whiskey and chase them with pickle juice because it makes you feel mature. You think about the last three Halloweens when you were Cher Horowitz and Eleven and Gilda Radner. You decide, collectively, that this place sucks. You then go to a suckier place, perhaps the suckiest place.
You arrive and see the line, hell no. You know it’s not worth the walking pneumonia, you wish you stayed at the other bar or never went out in the first place. Your friend reminds you that she is in Greek life, so the four of you waltz up to the masked bouncer like the cast of “The Bling Ring.” Without a singular qualm, your friend whispers in slow motion a very specific fruit or vegetable or brand of Tequila. This is the password. You enter the establishment feeling like a king.
The feeling of superiority melts away before it has a chance to grow into confidence. Every boy is dressed as a character from “Peaky Blinders,” while his female counterpart is a devil or an angel or Ashley O.
You never pay for a drink. You pretend to have seen “Peaky Blinders.” You try on different personalities like costumes, it is Halloween after all. You wonder if that boy dressed as Austin Powers will be there. He is. He doesn’t remember you. You wonder about all the people you don’t remember but then you remember that you can’t remember.
You talk to a boy or, rather, he talks to you. He tells you about his screenplay. You wonder if he will read this column and know who he is. You second guess writing this line because it could come off weird but you promise it’s not weird. Yet, saying that it’s not weird makes it feel like it really is weird. You leave it in unless your editor decides to take it out.
He asks for your number and the only digits that come to mind are 867-5309. You give him your real number and hope that his fake mustache is in fact fake.
You leave with one out of three of the friends you came in with. You get pizza for the third time in 72 hours. Your friend gets two slices and a date. You get a pie and a drunken text.
You get home, you rip off the 20 dollar, six hour, fake eyelashes in less than a second. You fall asleep on the couch with your white go-go boots on. It is your last Halloween in Ann Arbor.