By Thirteen for Halloween on Oct 13, 2009 | In Halloween Stories
My Night as a Big Blue Bird
by Amanda Snyder
I went to private school through fourth grade. In the summer before fifth grade my parents gave me the option of switching to public school. Money was really tight and they were probably looking to cut costs wherever possible. They were in luck because I was looking to be one of those cool kids who went to school in stonewashed jeans and Reeboks with the little button that lets you to ‘PUMP IT UP.’ It was going to be totally radical. Slap on bracelets and feathered bangs were so in my future. I pictured myself walking home with the girls with Trapper Keepers and matching pencil bags. Soon I would be holding hands with a cute boy with gel in his hair.
Well…things couldn’t have worked more to the contrary. I was a dork. I didn’t know anything about fifth grade fashion. More to the point, I didn’t know anyone in the fifth grade. These were well-formed cliques that went back to kindergarten days. I showed up on my first day in an awful ruffled blouse that my aunt gave me. She swore up and down that it was right out of the fashion magazines. The only thing dorkier than my sense of style was the taste of those who were advising me. Day in and day out I showed up in lame outfits my mom and her sisters bought for me at the thrift store. Those who knew what they were doing were shopping at The Gap. As far as I knew The Gap could have been a local version of the Grand Canyon.
I had been living under the private school rock and I needed to get cool, and I needed to do it fast. Of course, the damage was already done. Not only did I dress like a weirdo, I was shy, so everyone already had it in their minds that I was a loser. It was excruciating. I was hanging out with this fat girl named Kirsten who already had her period, which everyone thought was totally gross. Of course who knows if it was even true, but that was my one and only association.
I wanted to hang out with Brandy Layman. She was beautiful. Everyone wanted to sit by her at lunch. She had long silky black hair and she wore those cool leather boots that my 16-year-old baby sitter always wore. Brandy drank Pepsi everyday at lunch but still had perfect white teeth. My mom told me that if I drank Pepsi my teeth would rot and fall out. My teeth were such a wreck I thought it best that they did fall out. They were so crooked it looked like I was growing two sets of teeth. It took twelve extractions and 4 years of braces to fix my teeth. Self-esteem was not my strong suit during the elementary and middle school years.
I was two months into the fifth grade and still no cooler than when I started. I remember it was a Monday morning when they announced the date and location of the Halloween Ball. This was my chance. If I won the costume contest people would definitely think I was cool. The problem was, I didn’t have a costume and my parents definitely didn’t have money to buy me one. My mom made some calls and finally exclaimed, “My sister’s friend’s kid can lend you a costume!” “Oh great!” I cried, “what is it?” I replied in a far more serious tone. Mom said, “a bird.” “Well…ok…there are lots of beautiful birds in the world,” I thought. “Cardinals, Parrots, even a Toucan would be really funny.” I reassured myself saying, “This is going to be the best costume at the party, and I can’t wait!”
The big night arrived quickly and my mom’s sister was a little late dropping off the costume. I only had 30 minutes to suit up and get down to the party. My aunt handed me a gigantic black trash bag and said, “Go try it on, we want to see how you look!” I ran to the bathroom and tore open the bag to find a massive pile of blue. Not navy or royal…but electric blue. Blue as in…blue slushy at the mall blue. I felt nauseous. Everyone was going to laugh at me. My mom and my aunt were so excited to see me that I had to try it on for them. I stepped into the tight orange leggings that served as my bird legs. The body suit was stuffed and round and my face protruded from the opening of the bird’s beak. As I stood in the mirror I yelled, “I don’t think I want to go to the party.” My mom yelled back, “Don’t be ridiculous, and come out here so we can see you!”
I slowly opened the creaky bathroom door. I waddled out into the light, one felt bird foot in front of the other. They were hysterical – shouting how adorable I looked. “I don’t know,” I said, “it’s really…blue!” My mom scolded me, “this is a really nice costume, don’t be ungrateful, your aunt drove all the way over here to bring this to you!!!” “Everybody loves blue birds!” cried my aunt. I was really tall for my age, and I knew that I was a giant blue Big Bird and there was no going back now. I wedged myself into the front seat of my mom’s van. The butt on this bird was so enormous that I had to sit sideways in the seat. I was dizzy with fear of how this evening would play out.
As we pulled up to the school’s entrance my palms were sweating. There were cute little fairies and kitties and ghosts filing into the open doors. I wanted to steal one of the ghost’s sheets to cover my enormous blue body. The popular girls were already assembled in a circle on the dance floor when I waddled in. Brandy was dressed like the cartoon rock star Jem and her friends were dressed as her band The Holograms. They looked all glittery and awesome. Everyone was looking at me. Some were snickering and pointing. I no longer felt huge. I felt like I was melting right there into gym floor. I ran out into the hallway my beak was flapping up and down and tears were welling up in my eyes. I should have just stayed at home alone, I thought. I wanted to stay in my bedroom forever and never face these people again.
I sobbed into my feathers knowing I was stuck there for hours until my mom came back to pick me up. As I sat there picking the little orange lint balls off my bird legs a girl named Julie approached me. I recognized her from class but had never talked to her before. She was wearing an old white t-shirt with the word “COSTUME” scribbled in black marker across its front. “I never thought I’d see Big Bird cry,” she whispered in a friendly tone. In a moment of tears and laughter I cried out, “I knew I looked like Big Bird!!” She laughed and said, “Why don’t you get your dusty bird butt up off the ground and we’ll go teach these people how to have fun.” I didn’t know it at the time but Julie was going to play a big part in the formation of the woman I was going to become.
Kirsten never showed up at the Halloween party, but she did, however, become a chemical engineer who puts us all to shame. As for Brandy, by high school we had found out that Brandy’s mom was a chain smoking hillbilly and her father was in jail, and unfortunately, that was a big part of the woman she was going to become.
Now Halloween 2009 is fast approaching and, as always, I don’t have a costume. I wish I still had that bird costume because that would be hilarious to show up at my friends costume party as that big blue creature from the past. It’s funny how the things that embarrassed you in childhood eventually become the things you pride yourself on as an adult.
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