When I was a 4th grader, I dressed up as Michael Jackson for Halloween by putting on a wig, a glove, and covering my entire face in white face paint.
Fifteen years later, it is just now occurring to me how horribly offensive that was. I somehow managed, at age 9, to unknowingly create a more awkward and offensive scenario than going in blackface. I even remember one neighbor hesitating to give me candy. I figured he just wasn’t a Michael fan.
The year before that, in 3rd grade, I went as a hobo. I wore a sign around my neck that said “Buddy, can you spare a dime?” In the town of Potomac, Maryland, where there is now a Real Housewives series (inexplicably devoid of any Jews or white people, but that’s a subject for another post) being filmed. Enough said. We had a school Halloween parade (this was back in the days when schools let children have fun), and I marched through the halls and recess yard wearing my dirty t-shirt, disheveled hair, and “hilarious” sign. The other Potomac parents loved it. The other students didn’t get it (they had never seen a poor person). The teachers, who could not afford to live in Potomac, looked away. I figured maybe they felt bad that they didn’t have a dime to give me.
“Don’t worry!” I told my teacher, laughing. “You don’t REALLY have to give me money!”
She did not smile.
Finally, at age 16, I decided to be something normal for Halloween. A friend was throwing a big Halloween dance party, and I went as Cinderella. Full-blown floor length ball gown, crown, the works.
“Finally!” my mom cried as she dropped me off at the party, “I’ve tried for years to get you wear something like this for Halloween!”
I rolled my eyes, slid the mini-van door closed, and walked into the party, fluffing my skirt upon entrance.
I was the only one in costume.
It’s a wonder I ever leave the apartment.