orange pumpkins on brown hay

My Worst Halloween Costume

It’s Spooky Season, folks! It’s time to lay out your scariest decorations, hoard the candy away from the 12-and-under crowd, and get ready to do the pumpkin dance!

It’s also time to ready your Halloween costumes. If you’re female, you may feel compelled to wear the sluttiest1 costumes from Yandy2 because something about this time of year turns women’s advertising just a bit more absurd than usual. If you’re male, you’re given a pat on the head and told, eh, I dunno — put on some khaki lorts and a button down and carry around a skateboard and you can be Tony Hawk or something. But if you’re part of a family, you’re probably going to get some matching costumes that the five of you can wear together. And I’m here to tell you, tongue firmly in cheek, that nothing is more original than a family of Where’s Waldos on Instagram.

This reminds me of my own Halloween costume blunder that occurred when I was, of course, a young teenager — the age when I desperately wanted to fit in, but still held onto the childish idea that being unique should make me stand out to the right people. I was thirteen. I didn’t have a lot of friends and the ones I did have were “creative types” like myself: you know, kids who did all the extra credit work even though they had an A in the class. My mom thought this made me smart; my dad thought this was too much work. I just thought Hey! Someone’s bound to notice my extra effort, right?

My mom was a paralegal, as I mentioned before. For this reason and others, I grew up around attorneys. She would come home from work with stories about her job, peppering her vocabulary with words like interrogatories, and depositions. Though I wasn’t about to get an early acceptance to Harvard Law, I had a pre-basic grasp on what lawyers, legal assistants, judges, bailiffs, and other professions within the legal field did. All of this, paired with my natural precociousness, and my mother’s blind encouragement led me to an unfortunate decision: 

“I’m going as a process server for Halloween!”

Yeah. This is a great costume for an adult. This is an even better slutty Halloween costume — for an adult. Think about it: you get a knock on your door, and someone (male or female) is standing there in skimpy shorts, holding a Manila envelope with CONFIDENTIAL written on it, and the following conversation takes place:

Slutty Process Server: Are you [your name]?

You (expecting the SPP): Yes.

SPP: [Handing you the envelope]: You’ve been served.

You (taking it): What is this for?

SPP: Someone is suing you. 

You: Oh no! What for?

SPP: Improper use of dat ass!

Now, my 13-year-old brain kept this much more G-rated. My plan was to use print out one-page form letters for each one of my teachers and scribble out a funny reason for why they were getting “sued,” which amounted to minor complaints about homework or calling on me too often/not enough in class. At the beginning of class, I would march right up to their desks, say their name, and in my loudest voice declare, “You’ve been served!” Then the whole class would laugh and clap at my practical joke. All in good fun, no one would get hurt.

I set to work on my “costume.” I had a stuffy white button down blouse and slacks that I wore for dressy occasions. My mom let me borrow one of her blazers, which was too big for me and had shoulder pads so big I looked like a tiny, white William Perry shuffling down my middle school halls. I also borrowed an old briefcase of hers, which I stuffed not just my “lawsuit papers,” but my homework for the day as well. It made no sense in carrying both a backpack and a briefcase, so I thought I’d carry just one. My dad went to Walmart and picked up a clearance rack landline phone shaped like a cellphone, but because this was the 1990’s, it was in the shape of a 90’s brick cellphone — huge and cumbersome. I threw that in the briefcase, too. 

But to be a good process server, I would need the right paperwork. In the 90’s it wasn’t common for teenagers to have their own computers, but I did. I used it to make a handful of simple forms: name line at the top, body lines in the middle, and then my own signature line at the bottom. I came up with creative reasons for “suing” my teachers one-by-one and then tucked them away. 

Halloween came and I marched out to the bus stop. I was ready. 

As I stood on the cold, rainy, corner, feeling smug about myself, three Scream masks stared back at me. 

“What are you?” One of them asked. 

“I’m a process server,” I explained, rolling my eyes. 

The second asked, “What’s that?” 

“You don’t know what a process server is?” I laughed because that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard that morning. I mean, I was looking at not one but three people dressed up as the same damn character from a movie they were technically too young to see. “It’s the person who delivers papers to someone when they get sued.”

The Scream masks looked at each other. “Oh,” the third said. “That’s weird.”

“Yeah,” the first one said. “Why did you want to do that?”

I paused. “Um,” I said. “Because…”

The bus pulled up behind us, saving me from having to find an explanation. Because it would be funny wasn’t that great of an answer anymore. 

I took a breath and stomped up the stairs onto the bus where I presented my first victim, my bus driver, with the first papers. She got served for being continuously 5 minutes late to the bus stop every morning. To my relief (there was an instant where I thought I had gone too far and hoped she knew I was joking), she burst out laughing. Filled with new confidence, my chest swelled and my back straightened. I turned the corner to take my seat and —

The stares from other bus riders bored hot poker holes in my frail, little body. The confidence began to trickle out of each of those hot poker holes as the words this was not a good idea materialized in my growing, adolescent brain. I took my seat and the questions came: Who are you? What’s a process server? Why did you want to go as that? Why? Who? What? As more students got on the bus, more questions came. 

I held my own throughout the day. Each class, I walked up to my teacher and handed them their form letter. To their credit, each teacher played along fabulously. They all laughed or rolled their eyes and patted my shoulder with good humor. I’d turn around to see a sea of frowns or confused faces, afterward. One kid almost got it asked, “Hey, are you a lawyer?” I just shook my head and sunk low in my seat and wished I had gone as Cher from Clueless like ten other girls in my grade. 

However, I had one saving grace! My dad was going to call me out of my final class early so we could see my aunt and uncle for dinner and trick-or-treating. I looked forward to ending that miserable day, even though it was mostly over. But I didn’t want to endure another bus ride home. 

So at quarter-after, I started packing up my homework into my stupid briefcase. The intercom in math class beeped — thank god for my dad’s promptness — and the school secretary’s voice filled the room:

“Mrs. [teacher’s name]?”

“Yes?”

Then came the nine worst words I had ever heard: “Would you send…Special Agent MacNamara to the office?”

The class went dead silent to allow my soul to leave my body. Two seconds later, it erupted in laughter. 

HAHA! WHAT THE HELL? SPECIAL AGENT? IS THAT YOU?! WHAT IS THAT? WHAT ARE YOU AGAIN? 

I rose from my seat, briefcase in hand, and trudged from the classroom, down the hallway, to the school’s front office. There, I found my dad, grinning like a jerk, at his special call-out. 

On the way to my aunt and uncle’s house, I gave him the most bitter, shrill chewing out a 13-year-old could muster. All the while, he kept saying “What? It was funny!” 

My brother, dressed as a Power Ranger for the third year in a row, thought I was being too dramatic. My mom assured me I looked cute and said, “Can I have my blazer back? I need it for work.”

Next year, (as a freshman in high school), I went as a tiger; the school mascot.


1I realize that the word “slutty” is divisive here and might lead some people to assume I’m shaming people for enjoying sex. This is most certainly not true. I am shaming companies for ruining costumes.

2Also, I bought a slutty costume from Yandy this year. Screw you and sue me. I wanted to feel slutty for once in my life.

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