Costume Party
Tommy, Age 13, Doylestown, PA

Do you like to stand out in a crowd and let everybody look at you? Well, maybe youíre different than me. If you stand out in a crowd once, you can do it again.

In 4th grade at Cold Spring Elementary, on a windy October day before kids get sweet tooth and sugar rushes, thereís only one thing that stands in the way between every kid and their candy: school. Everybody in the school is having a costume party, including our class with Mrs. Lemon.

Before I go to school, Iím scared. I donít know if I should wear my costume. Itís a cheerleader costume--a tiger-blood red, high school musical cheerleader outfit.

Now Iím about to go to school. Iím really nervous; I donít know what theyíll think.  I walk through the school doors, I go up, and before I take a step in the room, I stop and stare, peek in the window seeing people wearing boring witch costumes, the old, regular one with a fake nose--tan skin plastic with a wart--and a cape. A drip of sweat runs down my neck like a flash flood--rapid flooding chocolate brown muddy water. Now I wish I could just go back and rethink what I am wearing; now Iím really nervous. Iím going to be different. I donít want to be different in this kind of way and wear shorty shorts and long hair with a shirt that has a cartoon on it.

I stick out my hand and twist the door knob while the hairs on my arm stick up like cornstalks growing in June. I slide open the door. In an instant, everyone turns to look over at the door. I stand there motionless, asking myself questions and observing the class with all their jaws dropped. Wow, I canít believe more than one hundred eyeballs are on me. It feels like the whole room is caving in; I am so hot it feels like they are breathing on me. Well, now with my heart clapping, my legs wigging, my hands boiling, and my head spinning, it feels like I am going to throw up. That is just for a second, until I look at my friends and see their white and yellow teeth smile at me. But it isnít a laugh and they arenít making fun of anyone. I smile back than I hear, ďTommy thatís the best costume I have ever seen.Ē There is pandemonium. I murmur under my breath, so no one can hear. I finally get out the thankful words, ďThank you,Ē then the stress, the sweat goes away. It climb back in my body. It is the best feeling of my life: not fitting in with the looks but fitting in where it matters, the heart.

Then I carry on with the day, sticking out like a sore thumb, still getting strange looks from people, but I turn and ignore them and talk with my friends, and I always wear a smile. It is so fun; I have one of the best days of my life. It is in that moment when I realize I donít care what people think. I got past not throwing up or having a nervous breakdown, and next time I wonít even stop. Iíll walk in like it is no big deal. If I did it once, I can do it again.

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