I spend about $50. Two pairs of golden tights, the first of which are too matte. Two pairs of angel wings: first children’s size, then what I believe are adults, but are actually smaller in person. A bow and arrow which went unused beyond selfies. Two hooded, sleeveless tops, one pink and one red; the latter works. Boyfriend buys me the wig, a yellowy blonde cosplay one. The gold shoelaces never arrive in the mail and I swap them for magenta.
I fantasize. I imagine a piece of performance art where I go around as Cupid, shooting Trump for President signs with a bow and arrow.
I have to catch the train. I throw the majority of the costume in a plastic grocery bag and put on the wig. I carry the angel wings and hold them tenderly to my chest, so the wind won’t hurt them. I sprint the the sidewalks near the pizza place in a pair of cotton gym shorts. I’m wearing the red top, and a pink Jigglypuff crop-top underneath, but not the gold tights even though it’s almost Halloween. I live in a quiet place but some people really hate gay guys, you know? Especially cute ones who like to be shiny sometimes.
I get to the train platform. “We could use an angel,” says a woman waiting. I laugh and as I get closer she adds, “Aw the little angel’s freezing.” I’m relieved when I finally board the commuter rail and sit on the familiar red of the seat cushions.
I am even happier when I emerge from the bathroom in my friend’s apartment fully costumed. Legs encased in cheap liquid gold. Skinny arms adorned with Valentine’s Day tattoos. Cheap party wings strapped in at the armpits. A few glasses of white wine. Bacchus swished and swallowed and an Uber called. Then we’re at the disco.
Here is a me I haven’t met before. The one wearing a cute gay costume in a crowd. My crack of smile a fissure in the dark.
I suddenly feel self-conscious as I near the front of the dance floor. I start to retreat but a twentysomething and I start dancing. Not touching, just sort of swaying. Together. As night deepens, she removes her sash and gifts it to me. It reads DEBUTANTE BRAWL. I awkwardly accept.
“I have to confess something,” she says. “I’m wearing a wig,” and she pulls it off. “That’s fine,” I say. “I am too.”
Alexander Castro (b. 1992) is a writer and journalist based in Massachusetts. He regularly contributes reporting and criticism to Big Red & Shiny, Mercury, and GLASS Quarterly. His writing has also appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, untethered, Don’t Take Pictures, and SUSAN. He is currently working on a collection of essays that combine research, memoir and criticism. OhNoCastro.com