At some point I wondered if all these spectacular events were actually being done for me. Really, how many sixth-grade girls' biggest fantasy is for a college marching band to play at their graduation? Take Halloween. When I was five or six, my mother decided I would go as a bride. No polyester drugstore costume for me, no sir. Halloween found me wearing a custom bridal gown made by the noted fashion designer Nolan Miller, with padded boobs and false eyelashes. And, like many Halloweens, I wore high heels. It wasn't easy to find heels for a young child, so my mother went through the Yellow Pages until she found a "little person" store that sold grownup shoes in my size.
Then there was the Marie Antoinette costume my mother had Nolan Miller make for me when I was nine or ten. My five-year-old brother, Randy, was Louis XVI (a costume that actually suited him — even at that young age, he was already showing a taste for the finer things. We'd go to a restaurant and he'd tell the waiter, "For my appetizer I'll have the escargot.") My Marie Antoinette costume had golden brocade, a boned bodice, and gigantic hip bustles. It was topped off with an enormous powdered wig of ringlets so heavy that I got my first headache. I looked like one of those Madame Alexander dolls ofwhich my mother was so fond. Meanwhile, Randy got off easy in a ruffled red coat and a comparatively lightweight wig.
My parents drove their young royals to the flats of Beverly Hills, L.A.'s prime trick-or-treating turf. The houses were closer together than those in our neighborhood but still inhabited by rich people who didn't think twice about giving out full-size candy bars. Not that we got to keep any of the candy we collected anyway. My mother was paranoid about hidden razor blades and poisoned chocolate, so she always confiscated our booty and replaced it with bags she'd painstakingly assembled herself.
As I wobbled my way down the street trying to adjust to my new center of gravity, some kids threw raw eggs at me. I barely felt the first couple — they must have hit my bustle. But then, as if in slow motion, I saw two eggs coming toward us, one at me, one at my brother. Randy darted out of the line of fire, but I couldn't escape because of my enormous petticoats. An egg hit me in the ear. I wish I could at least claim it was some French immigrants avenging their eighteenth-century proletariat ancestors, but I think I was just caught in run-of-the-mill vampire/Jedi knight cross fire.
After the Marie Antoinette debacle, I'd had it. When Halloween rolled around again, I begged to be anything other than a historical figure. I wanted to be a plain old bunny. You know, the classic Halloween costume: plastic mask, grocery bag for candy, jacket hiding the one-piece paper outfit. My mother agreed to the bunny concept. But instead of drawn-on whiskers and bunny ears on a headband, I had a hand-sewn bunny costume, which had me in (fake) fur from head to toe with just my face showing. Who was I to complain? It was the best bunny costume a girl could ever want. Unfortunately, after four houses I had an allergy attack and had to go home.