Kelly Zhou

Listen up, bub. No need for small talk. We’re here for a reason, so let’s cut straight to the chase, huh? I’m here because, as happens every Halloween without fail, I’ve dressed up in a really elaborate and totally inscrutable costume and I’m very insecure about it. You’re here because you invited me to this party even though you know that I am the worst kind of Halloween person, and you feel some sense of obligation to be kind to me even though you know I’d never return the favor in a million years.

Around us, the party’s going on. We’ve been here for, what, an hour? And people have mostly been avoiding eye contact with me. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity like a lion waiting at the watering hole for the gazelle to wander by — “Oh,” I’ll say. “You’re a fireman! Nice costume. Want to guess what mine is?” But no one’s taken the bait. No one — not one person — has tried to guess what I’m supposed to be.

But you will. You will, or else.

Check out my costume. Compare it briefly to your sloppily homemade Super Mario costume. Think about how smart I must be to have such an obscure costume. Now puzzle it out, friend. What could the joke be? Why do I appear to be half of a ghost and half of, like, an ancient Greek murderer-woman or something? Take a second. But not too long, or I’ll get offended. And I don’t think you’ll like what happens when I get offended.

Still thinking? Come on! It’s not that hard.

Oh, you think it’s a little obscure? Maybe not accessible enough? Well, pal, maybe you want to play hardball. I think it’s time I told you what’s coming your way if you don’t successfully guess what my Halloween costume is, don’t you?

Well, for starters, I’m going to cry. Only a little bit at the start, and then a TON. Right here at the party. In the middle of all your friends. You’re going to have to take me to the bedroom you’re storing all the coats in and, like, give me a page of Josh’s p-set to blow my nose on. I’ll simper interminably about how my costumes are supposed to represent my individuality and how nobody understands me. You’ll tell me it’s going to be okay, and you’ll think that I’m about to move on. But you’d better fucking brace yourself, pal, because right when you let your guard down, I am going to start to UNLOAD on you about how all I want out of life is to be a modern-day Socrates and I feel like I just can’t measure up. I’ll be inconsolable, and that’s before I start reading you the poetry I’ve written in Ancient Greek. The poetry is about my love life, and even though you don’t know what I’m saying, you can just tell that it’s really problematic.

Still no guesses? Perhaps you don’t understand the seriousness of the matter at hand.

The minutes and, yes, the hours are going to slip away, my friend, while you try to comfort me. Syd’s pre-game, the Yale Symphony Orchestra show, that weird séance thing Derek was holding — all these are going to slip away like sand through your fingers as you sit on the bed of some dude you don’t know on top of a mountain of coats while your ostensible friend openly weeps about how people at this school respect him as a scholar but not as an intellectual, if you know what he means (you don’t).

Don’t think I won’t do it. I’ve done it before. Sophomore year. I was dating Hannah Knutsen, and I went as political correctness — an Uncle Sam hat with a bunch of check marks taped to it. Obvious yet clever, right? Not for Hannah. She told me it wasn’t that funny. You know how Hannah spent that Halloween, pal? On the floor of her bedroom, listening to me blubber endlessly about how my parents didn’t read to me enough as a child and now I’ll never be able to read three pages a minute.

Or consider Kevin O’Shea. It was junior year. I was dressed up as Marcel Proust’s magnum opus “In Search of Lost Time” — I was wearing a detective costume with a stopwatch glued to the back of my trenchcoat. Poor Kevin said he was bad at guessing. You know what Kevin also turned out to be bad at, friend? Comforting me right in the middle of Old Campus when I wouldn’t stop hyperventilating and shakily shouting obscene Latin phrases at passersby. It’d be a darn shame if you ended up like Kevin, huh?

So maybe don’t underestimate me, okay? I know what I’m doing. You’d better fucking guess what my costume is, or I swear, I’m gonna whine about the insufficiency of Directed Studies to prepare me for the Nietzsche seminar I’m taking until your goddamn ears —

Huh?

Um, uh, yeah. That’s — yeah. Wow, I really didn’t expect —

Yup. Boo: A Medea Halloween. That’s my costume. Good thinking!

You’re gonna go check out another part of the party? Okay, yeah. That sounds good. Cool if I tag — No, yeah, I totally get it. I’ll just wait here and see if I can ensnare anyone else in my bottomless costume-guessing trap of manipulation and deception from which there is no escape but the abject pain of hearing me psychoanalyze myself while I eat all your Oreos.

We’re cool, right?

Micah Osler micah.osler@yale.edu .