For the past year, I have looked forward
to this Friday night with an anticipation only equaled by your
buddy Eric’s yearlong craving for another installment of
“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Halloween costumes for
me usually result from split-second decisions. A quick run to the
MSU bookstore for a Spartan Alumni T-shirt and those fake
‘S’ tattoos, followed by a trip to the dollar store for
a janitor’s mop and bam! Todd is now a Michigan State
This year was supposed to be different. I figured it out a long
time ago and knew everything necessary for the perfect costume.
Cowboy boots? Check. White dress shirt with one ripped sleeve?
Check. Marines jacket? Check. (Okay, mine is an Army jacket, but
it’s close enough.) Toy gun? Check. Shaving a Mohawk?
I want to be Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) from Martin
Scosese’s 1976 masterpiece of loneliness and hatred
“Taxi Driver.” Travis was all of 26 when he shaved his
head. Taunted as “Cowboy” many times in the film,
Travis makes the Native American hairstyle change when he’s
finally ready to take some action against the filth of New York
that he so despises. The assassination of a Presidential candidate
is his initial goal, but the killing of a pimp and a mob boss will
I am 22. I want to shave my head. Why was it so easy for Travis
but so hard for me?
There are various reasons why I am now having second thoughts
about the follicle butchering, and I’m not sure if any of
them are good reasons. If I don’t make the cut, am I just as
weak as Travis feels throughout most of “Taxi Driver?”
Sure, you can work up a case for Mr. Bickle being certifiably
crazy, but he did take some action finally. And it worked out for
him in the end (being labeled a hero in the papers, returning a
young prostitute to her home in New Jersey, a beautiful girl in the
semen-soaked backseat of his taxi).
If only Halloween were on a Wednesday or a Thursday, this
decision would be so much easier. Yet, events have conspired, and
Halloween is on a Friday. And not just any Friday; no, it’s
gotta be the Friday before the university’s biggest football
game of the year — Michigan State. Fuck the Buckeyes! Even if
we beat them this year, OSU fans will wave their National
Championship rings in our faces. No matter what we do,
they’re the better team.
MSU on the other hand is a question mark. We never expected them
to be this good. Hell, look at their coach. He sounds like a
bumbling fool, yet he’s somehow got his quarterback clean
(and once again NFL bound) and his team doing something current
Detroit Lions Wide Receivers Coach Bobby Williams could never
obtain from them: effort. John L. Smith may look deceptively
foolish to State’s Big Ten competitors, but with a party in
the middle, GI on the sides hairdo, how stupid will I look to the
green and white?
Now, just like two years ago when I witnessed that phantom
second, I’ve got upper deck tickets at Spartan Stadium (Thank
you Michigan Ticket Office). But those Spartans don’t
tailgate like us Wolverines. Nope, they feel the need to get up at
two in the mornin’ to drive to the tennis courts (the tennis
courts?) to secure a spot and then commence drinking. Yes
it’s true that many of these same tailgaters don’t go
to the game, or even watch it for that matter, but, with a noon
start time and an actual goal of watching the contest, this limits
all of my Friday night action (not that kind of action, sicko).
As of now, Ann Arbor seems to be offering very little in the
Halloween party department so maybe a fright night in EL is not
such a bad idea. However, the Travis Bickle costume lends itself to
a certain film knowledge found more prevalent in Treetown than
Spartyville. Also, what’s the fun of dressing up for people
you don’t even know?
Random MSU student: Oh man, Bobby DeNiro in “Taxi
Driver!!” (laughing) You talkin’ to me, you
talkin’ to me.
Me: Thanks, guy I don’t know and will never in my life
This would be followed by my mimicking of DeNiro (as Bickle) in
the film’s final moments: blood-soaked hand lifted to my
head, imitating a gun, pulling the trigger.
The real motivation for my hesitation, and the reason I’ve
tried so far to avoid, is peer pressure. I’ve got no support.
Everywhere I turn I get “No, Todd. Don’t shave your
head!” My friends, my parents, Shakey Jake. It’s like a
broken, Mohawk-hating record.
Is peer pressure really that dominant a force? There’s no
way all these people really find my current style all that amazing
anyway, they just dislike the shocking.
I’m bored as hell and I don’t want to take it
anymore. A little Mohawk never killed anyone.
Of course, I could always do what DeNiro did: not shave my head,
and wear a bald-cap and fur instead. But what’s the fun in
that, Mr. Scorsese? What’s the fun in that?