After weeks of indecision, it’s time to find something to wear. This is my first co-ed Halloween party. Someone with a “cool mom” is hosting. My search for a costume has come up short because for us theater kids, a Halloween costume must always be homemade and fit into one of the following categories.
1. A character from a cult classic (the more obscure the better)
2. Something hilarious
3. Pure shock value
Due to my lack of confidence in my ability to pull off the first two options, I go for the low hanging fruit. I put on my tightest, shortest dress, stiletto heels and red lipstick I borrowed from my friend. Then I draw a line across my neck in fake blood. If anyone asks, I am a “dead hooker.” Of course, this is not the term I use to describe it to my parents.
The lipstick looks garish on my adolescent face, even worse than the cheap fake blood making its way down my chest. Since I don’t really know how to walk in heels, they sink into the lawn several times on my way to the car, but I persevere.
Having recently risen to the rank of high school Sophomore, I am desperate to be taken seriously. But things change when I get to the party. There are so many people, I can barely breathe. The seniors have taken over the VCR. They insist that everyone must watch Pulp Fiction.
The couch and all the chairs are taken. I sit on the floor next to my friend, nervously talking and trying to make fun of it all. One of the seniors wants to give me a shoulder rub. I don’t know how to say no.
I get shushed at the part when Uma Thurman's character snorts a pile of heroin thinking it’s cocaine. The other kids in the room anticipate the character’s next line. “I said, Goddamn!” they shout in unison.
Uma’s eyes roll back in her head. A creeping sense of uneasiness washes over me. I try to escape to the kitchen or the bathroom, but they really want me to see this part.
Uma is unconscious now, blood coming out of her nose, foam coming out of her mouth. The other characters fumble around with a comically large syringe of adrenaline.
I want to go home so bad, but I’d have to wait for my ride or risk using the house phone to call my mom. Suddenly I am not in such a hurry to grow up.
“Are you crying?”
“No, it’s just allergies.”
I tell them I’m cold and put my coat back on. Most of my lipstick has rubbed off and having discarded the uncomfortable shoes, I am now barefoot like Uma. There is more red corn syrup under my fingernails than on my neck where I have been scratching at it all night. This is not me. I don’t belong here.
My husband recently decided to rewatch the Tarantino classic one night after work. I mentioned how I hadn’t seen it in a long time and it wasn’t really my thing. Then I thought about it and since there are a few more recent Tarantino films I like, I decided to give this one another shot.
Upon second viewing I still didn’t like it. That old feeling came rushing back when I watched the overdose scene. I know the scene is supposed to be shocking, funny even. But suddenly I was thirteen again, sad and embarrassed about it.
Maybe if my initial viewing had been under different circumstances I might have liked it. I’ll never know for sure.