Unmasked

This week’s  Trifecta challenge involves the word ‘mask’:

“a: a protective covering for the face; b : gas mask; c : a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation; d : a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material; e : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries.”

I decided not to kill anybody this week.  I’ll murder my students’ papers instead.  Here’s a trifle from my childhood and a photo too:

______________________________________________________________________________

When I was a kid, I tried to do everything little girls were supposed to do.

I giggled.

I ogled boy bands.

I flounced around in a cheerleader skirt, smiling and clapping like a chimpanzee.

I tried so earnestly to emulate my older sister, but somehow, while her hair always managed to curl into perfectly delicate petals, mine, when wrangled free from the torturous grip of plastic-foam sponge curlers, waved wildly around my head like writhing tentacles.  Somehow, while my sister’s dress cradled the womanly curves of her body just so, mine hung on me like a dust cloth draped over an umbrella stand.

Still.  I tried.  I got up every day, fed the gators in my head and draped the cloak of feminine expectations awkwardly over my shoulders.

But Halloween was the one night I could let the gators slip out unnoticed.  I could slip on an invisible mask that filtered the noxious fumes of ridicule into clean tolerance, for one night only.

Princesses were far from my mind.  I gravitated toward the strange.

At six, amidst a sea of mermaids and Glendas, I strapped on suspenders, hitched up my pants and insisted on painting my face brown to fully transform into my hero, a comedic genius in my eyes, Steve Urkel.

At ten, the year of the black glove and the white Bronco, I glued myself to the OJ trial every day.  Naturally, for Halloween I donned a blonde wig and some fake blood to become the corpse of Nicole Brown Simpson.

The year of my last trick-or-treat, while my friends wore poodle skirts, I pulled on a pair of dirty coveralls and a white mask.

“Ooooh, honey!  Come see the little boy dressed as Michael Myers!” one woman called out when she answered the door.  Behind me I heard my mother’s sigh and my friends’ mocking, but I didn’t care that I’d been mistaken for a boy.  I was Michael Myers, immortal sociopath, and inside that mask, I was home.

That's me in the middle - a vision of feminine grace.

That’s me in the middle – a vision of feminine grace.

17 responses »

  1. What an amazing piece of writing!Loved the parts-“Still. I tried. I got up every day, fed the gators in my head and draped the cloak of feminine expectations awkwardly over my shoulders.

    But Halloween was the one night I could let the gators slip out unnoticed. I could slip on an invisible mask that filtered the noxious fumes of ridicule into clean tolerance, for one night only.”

  2. This was totally me growing up, dressing as the Scream bad guy and as a vampire among other things. (Although I was never as creative as you seemed to be!)

  3. What a fun read. I liked this description: “free from the torturous grip of plastic-foam sponge curlers, waved wildly around my head like writhing tentacles.” That is such a wonderful visual.

    I smiled at your Halloween costumes and rejoiced in your daring to let yourself be free that day. Hopefully, today you are as free as you let yourself be on Halloween.

    Also, I enjoyed reading your sidebar comments, especially the part about John Gotti. I love a good sense of humor:~)

    • I’m glad you liked reading about my awkward childhood! Sometimes I’m free. In a way it’s easier to be free as an adult, but in many other ways it is infinitely more challenging.

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