And What Are You Supposed to Be?

My most recent obsession was Batman, so when Halloween loomed around the corner, I naturally turned to my mother and pleaded with her to tailor me a Batman costume. My begging was unnecessary as she warmly consented and promised to have it ready by the 31st. The days up to Halloween passed by slowly and my anticipation built like the steam in a pressure cooker. The day arrived at last and I burst from underneath the burdening weight of my bed’s duvet. I spread my hands out wide and pressed my forehead on the chilled glass of the window. I could not imagine a more suitable day for Halloween then or since.

I turned back to my bedroom, rubbing my hands together with a fervor of expectations for the loot which I would soon procure from my neighborhood’s residents. The shadowy contours of the batman costume lying on the floor caught my eye, and in a single bound, I was upon it: holding it up to the light, feeling the sleeves and checking its quality like a wine connoisseur scrutinizing a fine wine. With a final turn over, I decided it passed all my tests except one: fit. I slipped it on with great apprehension, and was gratified to find that it fit me like a glove. I examined my stately figure in the mirror and with great bravado I whirled my cape around me like a cocoon.

Yes indeed, my mother was a fine craftsman. She had ingeniously used a black balaclava for the helmet and pasted black triangles on it for the ears. The only issue was that there was no mask over my eyes. My round face was exposed like a pale full moon cloaked in a black outline. No matter, I thought, the rest of my outfit was so true to Batman’s that I felt capable of his great feats just wearing this costume, nay, artwork. I flew down the stairs with all the haste my hero would have used to give my mother my felicitations on her handiwork.

She accepted my thank-you’s graciously and patted me on the back, urging me to be off to school. I trotted away happily, with my backpack slung around my shoulders. I must admit that I had swagger about me all through out the day as I showed off my impressive apparel.

My strutting lasted until my sister made fun of my unmasked face before we embarked on our trick-or-treating mission through the town. My mother hushed her into silence, however, and I wrote off my sister’s galling comment as jealousy. The stiffness between my sister and I disintegrated as myself and my two sisters lapsed into the comfort of Halloween trick-or-treating. We hit all the major candy holders one by one. Our bags were practically bursting with plunder and goodies. The streets didn’t know what hit ‘em after we rolled through. We had all but visited every house around when I suggested we make one final stop. My mother and sisters were against it, but with persuasion I swayed their opinion in my favor.

My older sister approached the house first and rang the doorbell. The old lady who answered and my sister went through the usual routine of “oh my! What an outfit”, “What’s your name?” and the classic, “and what are you supposed to be?” Yada-Yada, I thought. Finally my sister fell back with her bag bulging slightly more. I stepped up, rosy faced and breathing heavy clouds of mist from my moist, red lips. I held out my bag expectantly but the old lady bent over with a wide smile painted in wrinkles across her gentle face. She was about to launch into the same old conversation. Yes, yes, I thought impatiently, just dispense your candies, crone, and I’ll be on my way. I kept on smiling as she leaned in real close to my face, even once I caught a whiff of her coffee breath. She swept her hand up and down, gesturing to my costume, and still with that unmistakably kind smile said, “And what are you supposed to be, little girl?”

My breath froze. My smile waned and plummeted into a horseshoe frown that twitched ever so slightly. Little girl? I was Batman! Bat- MAN. She was confused by my change in demeanor but remained undeterred and quietly said goodbye as she dropped some colorful candies into my bag. I looked, flabbergasted, into my bag at the sweets which now seemed to be drained of their joyous hues.

Sullenly, I walked back to my waiting family. They were all beaming at me as they beckoned and said that we should go home. I could feel my eyes starting to well up with tears. My closed lips were beginning to quiver. I couldn’t hold it in. I dropped to the ground and bawled with gushing eyes as I threw my head back. My mother rushed over and knelt beside me, putting a comforting arm around my shoulder.

“Now, now. Batman doesn’t cry”, she said.

I looked at her blurrily and wrenching the foolish balaclava from my head I held it before her as proof, “People don’t think Batman is a girl.”

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