Journal entry: October 31, 1998 (age 29), Halloween
The only thing worse than a costume party is a costume party where you don’t know anyone. When my friend Lars Issa invited me and my fiancée, Amanda, to his Halloween bash, I thought, “I haven’t worn a Halloween costume since I was a kid. This should be fun!” But as the date approached, I realized we wouldn’t know anyone at the party except Lars and his girlfriend, Julie. I had visions of myself standing alone at an orange punchbowl while everyone oohed and aahed over the guy in the topical Linda Tripp costume.
At that point, I should have chosen a costume that incorporates a mask, so that I would be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Then I would have been free to people-watch in a corner, and swap obnoxious comments with Amanda about other people’s costumes. Another good plan would have been to create an elaborate, expensive costume that was so over-the-top fantastic that everyone at the party would gather around me and marvel at my ingenuity.
I did neither of these things.
Instead, I waited until yesterday to think about what to wear. I watched Amanda build her costume in a matter of minutes, using odds and ends like a bandanna and a leather vest to remake herself as a kind of sexy pirate. Women do this kind of thing with ease. She’s not just a nurse; she’s a SEXY nurse. A guy, meanwhile, could not get away with a costume as mundane as a “doctor.” And how would he make the leap to SEXY doctor? Perhaps he could walk around with his credit cards exposed, I supposed.
I looked around our apartment for something that I could use. The first thing I saw was our fluffy, white, down blanket. “Good enough,” I thought. I grabbed white pants and a white sweater, and after a quick trip to CVS, I had everything I needed.
At the party, Amanda was a hit. I almost had to punch out one guy who was dressed as a parrot. He kept putting his hands on her left shoulder and muttering, “Polly wanna cracker.” Meanwhile, one partygoer after another came up to me and asked what I was supposed to be. Each time, I replied with a question. “Did you have a bad day today?” If they said no, I just changed the subject or excused myself. But if they said yes, I would give them a hug, enveloping them in warm down. Then I would offer them a series of small gifts — a throat lozenge, a moist baby wipe, and a small picture of the Teletubbies. Asked if they felt better, they replied something along the lines of “Um, I guess. But what are you?” they asked.
“I’m a comforter.”
As I stood alone at the punchbowl, I heard someone ask one of three people dressed as Ken Starr if anyone at the party knew the guy in the blanket — the guy who wants to hug everybody and give them moist towelettes. He didn’t reply, but I saw him take out a small notebook and begin writing.