Would it help if I got out and pushed?

Thursday’s the day when I go to 826 LA and help kids do their homework and write stories. (Oh yeah, the volunteering thing? I’m doing it. And I’m loving it.) This being a special Thursday, I also got to stay late and draw some monsters with Stefan. And of course since it was Halloween week, all the tutors received the missive: Wear costumes!

Wearing a costume is my pleasure. Although I have yet to pull together my rather ambitious “official” idea for Friday, I have plenty of backups. Thanks to my mom and sister’s crack sewing skills—and a few times, my very poor ones—the cast of characters in my closet currently consists of Alice in Wonderland, Fembot, Zuul, a senior from Dazed & Confused, Britney Spears pre-Fed, Carrie, Princess Leia, Beerwench, and half a Brownie. No, costumes have never really been a problem for me to wear in public. Wearing a costume in public transportation, though, now that’s interesting.

I’m sure you New Yorkers will be all, please, we wear one costume to work on the subway and carry another costume in a totebag along with our gym clothes, a laptop and Tootsie Rolls for the whole office. But I’ve never done it. So I thought it would be fun to take the bus dressed as Princess Leia at 3:30pm on the afternoon before Halloween. If I still lived in Hollywood, however, this whole thing would have been pointless; stormtroopers, one of several Darth Vaders and a slave Leia were routinely spotted on my block.

Bound by the Force, as siblings are, Beth called me the second I stepped out my door and gave me some sound advice. Tell the bus driver to steer clear of any asteroid fields, she said, as the odds were not good. And if we did, indeed, break down, check the power cables to see if they had been chewed on by mynocks.

Standing at the bus stop I got two “Hey, Princess Leia!”s and one “Help me, Obi-Wan!”

When I got on the bus, the fare machine was broken, so the driver waved us on. I nodded at him. “Oh, no charge for members of the Rebel Alliance?” That joke sunk like an X-Wing on Dagobah. I scolded myself as I walked to the back of the bus. Maybe I should have gone for “If money is all you love than that’s what you’ll receive.” Or maybe “I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.”

At 826 LA my costume was less of a hit than it had been on the streets. Most of them were too young to know who I was; although one guessed angel and had a good point. Also, another Princess Leia had just left, and one student informed me matter-of-factly that her costume had been better:  Her buns were much bigger than mine.

After a seven-year-old convinced me to let her paint a gigantic clown-lion design on my face, I decided to walk home, taking in the breezy evening with a stroll. A cop grinned, people in American Apparel pointed. Nodding past the smokers outside hipster bars, I got plenty of half-smiles, and when I passed the only other people I saw dressed up, we gave a secret little greeting as if to say, well, aren’t we awesome, being all festive like this, walking along Sunset, and it’s not even Halloween.

Yep, I was feeling pretty good about Leia Organa’s acceptance in Echo Park when a guy cruised up behind me really slow on his bike, his light flashing like a strobe light around me. “Ah,” he laughed knowingly. There it was, the moment of recognition, here came the Jedi reference…

“You’re one of those Klu Klux Klan guys!”

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