My second Halloween story took place a couple of years later, in my freshman year of college.
My school has a big organ concert on Halloween every year, where the band dresses up and the President comes in made up to be something like Indiana Jones. They play scary songs, and then there’s a costume contest. After the concert, the dining hall provides hot cider and cookies. It’s a good time.
I’m not one for the sexy Halloween costumes. I could go on and on (as you probably know) about making the holiday about parading around in basically nothing to get attention. (Also there are some bizarre “sexy” costumes. Sexy shower? Sexy watermelon? What the heck, people?) I either want to go as something cool, something clever, or something actually frightening. Preferably all three.
For this Halloween, I decided to go as a drowned bride. Pretty much because I already had a lacy white thrift store dress and a makeup kit. I put on my gown, made my face pale, put on garish makeup and then stood in the shower for a little bit. Seriously. I put some gel in my hair to keep it looking wet, combed my hair over my eyes, and went to the concert.
I sat next to my friends Liz and Whitney, who didn’t know that they were my future roommates. They might have suspected. We all lived on the same floor, and they would keep their room constantly unlocked so I could go hang out whenever I wanted, if my roommate Kaarin decided to lock me out until I asked her in whale-speak to come back in.*
For some reason (probably my resemblance to the little girl from “The Ring,”) my costume terrified Liz. All I would have to do is let my hair fall into my face, tilt my head to the side, and bug my eyes out, and she would yell at me to stop it. I thought it was funny–she knew it was me, how could that be scary? But she was consistently freaked out when I would lurk behind someone or lunge at her.
She was asking for it.
After the concert I booked it through the crowds. I could hear Liz and Whitney calling after me, but I ignored them and squeezed through the cowboys and Captain Planets and giant bananas until I’d gotten a good head start on them. And I ran to our dorm. Opened their door, went into their room, decided that the closet was the only place I could fit, and shoved in.
It took about ten minutes for them to get back, and when they did, they seemed ready. Whitney whispered, “She’s got to be in here.” They gingerly opened the door and tiptoed around the room. Liz was almost hyperventilating. “I know you’re hiding, Laura,” she said, punching piles of clothes to make sure I wasn’t curled up underneath. Finally they came to the same conclusion I had: That the only place I could realistically hide was the closet.
Liz opened the door a crack, then wider. I blinked up at her. She stared down at me. I wasn’t hidden behind clothing–once the door was open, I was within plain view. And she stood there like that, and I sat there like that, for a full minute. Then, thinking that this was the most anticlimactic scare I’d ever tried to pull, I said, “Hey.”
And Liz screamed at the top of her lungs, jerked backwards, and fell on the floor because her limbs had stopped working.
She stayed screaming on the floor for what felt like ages. Maybe it felt longer because Whitney and I couldn’t breathe from laughter. I just couldn’t believe that she would react that way when I hadn’t jumped out, when she had seen me for so long beforehand, when she had known I would be in there and what I would look like. Liz said afterwards that she’d been looking right at me, but that her brain had refused to process what it was seeing until I moved, when it proceeded to go into full-on heart attack mode.
Somehow, after that, she agreed to live with me for three years.
I think the moral of the story is: Keep your friends close, and the people unscrupulous enough to scare the crap out of you closer.
*True story, this happened several times. The dangers of watching “Finding Nemo.”