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Halloween Dance

“There’s a Halloween Dance Saturday. Me and Aiden have our costumes ready.”

My son Dalton said this the other night at the dinner table. I instantly thought of my first middle school dance, a Halloween dance, and the disaster it was.

I can still remember how excited I felt seeing the sign above the water fountain at school. I could see it in my mind the second I read it: me and my friends in the coolest costumes ever, underneath a disco ball, surrounded by smoke, fending off the long line of witches, princesses and mermaids begging to dance with us.

I ran to tell my friends. Most didn’t want to go. The only taker was my buddy Jeremy. As soon as he said he was in, I asked, “What are you going to be?”

We went to the store after school.

Jeremy was ahead of his time. Long before “Twilight” made them the “hottest thing ever,” he went with a vampire costume. As for me, the second I saw it, I knew I’d win costume of the night: I was going to squeeze my chubby-cheeked, oversized head into Jim Carrey’s “The Mask.”

I didn’t think about trying to breathe or how much sweat a thick piece of vinyl would produce while doing the Macarena. Self-awareness is lost on sixth-graders.

The night of, we met at Jeremy’s house. I didn’t have a bright-colored suit, but I made do with a white button up shirt and khakis. Jeremy had his face painted white and hair slicked back with a gallon of gel. He had the cape, the teeth and the fake blood.

We were on point and pumped up. It was our first dance, and we were going to kill it.

We walked to the American Legion together to make our big entrance. Full of confidence, we busted through the double doors and went strutting in.

There we were, surrounded by our classmates … none of whom were wearing a costume.

The guys had their hair slicked up. They were wearing No Fear shirts, Tommy Hilfiger jeans and gold chains.

The girls had curls and dresses. Some were wearing makeup for the first time.

Everyone else was doing their best impression of an adult while I stood there doing my best impression of a living cartoon character, next to my friend’s best impression of Bela Lugosi.

Jeremy said “What the heck, man? You said this was a costume party.” I said, “It’s a Halloween dance. I just figured it was.” He ran to wash the paint off his face, while I ran to hide my mask in the first dark corner I could find.

It was too late. We were spotted upon entry and made fun of for years to come.

I was too embarrassed then to see the humor in it, but back in the present, the memory brought a big smile to my unmasked, chubby-cheeked, oversized head, and I asked Dalton, “Are you sure you’re supposed to dress up?”

Will Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville, Ala. See more at www.willstults.com.