You can read this series from the beginning here.
"It’ll be fun," Emma said.
"It will not," I replied. "I hate dressing up in costumes."
"You won’t have to," she said. "I promise. You can wear whatever you want."
"You said it was a costume party. You said your sister was throwing a costume party up in Silver Spring, and that you wanted to bring me. That implies that I am going to wear a costume, and I hate costumes."
Emma smiled a wan, unconvincing smile. "It’ll be fun. And no, you absolutely do not have to dress up. I have your costume all planned out. It’ll be simple, and hilarious."
I am a warrior for social justice, but I would never dress up as one. Dressing up in costumes is the mark of the unserious person, the libertine, the fool. But the curves on the tweed jacket Emma wore were so inviting, and she was wearing the cruelty-free perfume that I’d sent her that e-mail about. Besides, we were already going to lose the Senate. Maybe a party would cheer me up.
"You promise me that you’re not going to embarrass me," I said.
"Trust me," she said.
"So, what are you going as?" I asked.
"I can’t tell you. It’ll spoil the surprise. And there might be other surprises in store for you, if you behave yourself."
Most people would have taken that as a thinly-veiled invitation for future sexual contact, but I always feel more comfortable if there are very clear mutual boundaries established first regarding acceptable levels of contact and consent established at every stage.
"How are we getting there?" I asked.
"I rented a Prius," she said. "Fully charged, so you don’t have to worry about carbon offsets just for tonight."
"You always say the most environmentally conscious things," I said.
I have always hated Halloween, although I am sure it is mostly because I was never allowed to go trick-or-treating. I got to go to door-to-door, of course, but I was always dressed up in a little suit, and my mother gave me a big stack of Chris Dodd for Senate flyers to hand out. Every once in awhile, someone would take pity on me and give me a piece of candy, which I would try to hide in my pockets, but my mother always found them and took them away. One time, though, when I was twelve, she went away to California for an all-female sit-in that Angela Davis was leading at San Quentin, and I got to stay for a few days with my Uncle Bernie, who got me a Superman costume from somewhere and let me go trick-or-treating all by myself. Of course, someone gave me a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and I was so excited about finally getting to eat candy, and that’s how I found out I had a peanut allergy. I still don’t think that Mother has forgiven Uncle Bernie about that.
This Halloween was on a Friday, and Aunt Joan had told me that there were to be no slutty costumes, which made me the Costume Police. I had to send two sexy waitresses and one sexy French maid home, and I had to tell Rebecca that she couldn’t bring the axe from her sexy lumberjack outfit into the building. I spent the morning looking over internal Senate polls, and the afternoon with my door shut, hunched over and eating candy corn out of a bucket.
Emma wasn’t wearing a costume when we left the building, which I took as a good sign. We made fairly good time, and I was able to route around a horrible traffic jam over by Rock Creek Park.
"Do you actually know how to drive?" Emma asked me.
"I’ve practiced before. One time, my dad took me with him to Bermuda for a hedge fund manager’s conference. When we got to the Westchester Airport, the pilot did a pre-flight check and found that the Gulfstream had a leak in one of the tires. The chauffeur let me drive Dad’s limo up and down the tarmac."
"You have such a sense of humor, Justin," she said.
"It was great, until I clipped the wing of this Cessna," I said. "Didn’t hurt the plane any, fortunately, but the chauffeur had to spend the next week buffing the scratch out of the top of the car."
"You are going to be such a hit at this party," she said. "I can’t even tell you."
We pulled into a parking space out front of Emma’s sister’s condo in Silver Spring. Emma raced around to the back of the car. "Just wait," she said. "I have one thing to do, and we’re set."
She grunted audibly, just as though she was pulling something heavy out of the trunk, and then she came around to my side of the car. "Come on!" she said. "Get in."
It was a wheelchair.
"That’s a wheelchair," I said.
"I know," she said. "Just give me a second to get my shoes on."
"You should have told me you wanted me to be Franklin Roosevelt," I said. "I would have dressed up a little more."
I glanced over at Emma, and she had slipped out of her stylish black pumps and was squeezing her feet into a pair of pink tennis shoes.
"You’re not FDR," Justin," she explained. "You’re Greg Abbott, and I’m Wendy Davis. See! I told you. Minimalist."
"No," I said. "Absolutely not."
"I’ve explained to everyone that you don’t actually have a disability," she said. "Come on. It’ll be fun."
"I’m a Republican," I said. "I can’t be a Republican."
"It’s Halloween," she said. "You can be whoever you want to be."
"And you get to be Wendy Davis," I said. "That’s not fair."
"I know. I get to spend the whole evening pushing you around and making fun of your wheelchair, and pretending to be a ditz. Come on inside. I’ll get you a beer. It won’t be so bad. My brother-in-law is dressing up like Bobby Jindal. You can compare notes."
"It’s not right," I said.
"Justin," she said. "Listen to me. I understand your commitment to the cause of social justice, okay? It’s very attractive. But acting like a stick-in-the-mud is not in the least bit attractive. If I don’t show up at this party with someone resembling a boyfriend, my sister is going to tell my mother back home in Metuchen, New Jersey, and she is going to spend all Thanksgiving weekend to try and fix me up with her accountant’s nephew, okay? That is not going to happen. So get in that wheelchair and make nice. Please?"
I got in the wheelchair, and she gave me a kiss, and I could smell the perfume.
"Thank you," she said.
"Not a problem." I said.
"And don’t worry. I’ll make it up to you. Just promise me one thing."
"What’s that?" I asked.
"Save that affirmative consent nonsense for the college girls, okay? It is not what you would call romantic."
Sometimes, even the most zealous social justice warrior has to know when he’s beaten.
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