Tuesday, October 26, 2010

First-Line Theory and Halloween

This Frida is another treasure from
old town Albuquerque.

The last time I put any muscle into a Halloween costume was three years ago, when I fashioned a Frida Kahlo outfit using things lying around my house (including a turquoise peasant skirt I borrowed from Hazel, my grandmother, and a stuffed monkey whose paws attached with Velcro). I also scouted the Dollar Tree and Michael’s. I tend to have panic attacks in Michael’s or any store with a scrapbooking section. But I had a vision for this costume, and I come from a line of schoolteachers and crafters, so as they say on Project Runway, I had to “make it work.”
            My Frida was anachronistic, post-accident in a partial body cast but mobile enough to shake it on the dance floor. The internet wisdom about do-it-yourself torso casts is geared mostly toward pregnant women who want to take an impression of their watermelon bellies. Maybe if I’m ever in the family way I’ll understand this, but from the outside, these sites look an awful lot like the expectant parents subset of Awkward Family Photos.
            Last Halloween was a cancelled Dinosaur Jr. concert.
            The year before I borrowed Harmony’s purple velvet jumpsuit at the last minute to be a Mom at a Holiday Party.
            The Frida year, though, Harmony and I had just moved into a new apartment. A few friends had helped us unload the moving truck, and then that afternoon I was driving around town for ribbon and Rigid Wrap. I was also falling in love, though of course now I would tell my earlier self not to bother.
            Your average romance: He was a robot and I was Frida.
            These days my students and I talk about the First Line theory of prose and dating: can you know what you need to know from the very beginning?
He was a robot with a gutted television head and crinkly pipe arms. In my new living room full of boxes, he taped Christmas lights to his pipes in case he could find an outlet at the party and plug in. He was a punctual robot, and I was not. I knew the party would go on till 3 or 4 am or until the ambulances arrived. I was Frida, plastering my bodice, taking my time, gluing silk flowers on my headband, grooming my unibrow glued to my face with craft glue (endangering my eye area, not to be recommended),
            With the robot, did I know what I needed to know? Did the first sentence give me enough information?
We walked together to the party at our friends’ house. My hand was warm in the robot’s hand as we entered a loud room full of friends I barely recognized.

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