Notes on “A Democrat in Nebraska”

I’m surprised how often Halloween crops up in my stories and writing, because when it comes down to it, I’m more of a Christmas girl. But there’s something so great about capturing how people behave on a holiday that’s about alternate identities and free candy. The Jackie O costume in the story is one I wore three different times in three different cities and could continue to wear year after year if my friends would let me. It’s second to my favorite costume of all time, which was an R2D2 that my mother made me the year Star Wars was released. The main body was a refrigerator box cut down to my height and the legs were glued on cereal boxes. That’s about all I can remember and, fortunately or unfortunately, the camera film was destroyed and we don’t have pictures to confirm this. I don’t think it could possibly live up to my memory of the costume, although Judy does knows how to ready a kid for Halloween.

Star Wars is another thing that turns up in a lot of my fiction that I can’t explain. Check out “Any Ordinary Uncle” from The Usual Mistakes. I was a huge fan back in the day and had my own Death Star with the garbage compactor that had a plastic snake and green foam for the garbage.


I also had an entire shoebox full of playing cards that, had I kept them, would probably be worth their weight in gold. I gave them away one summer to this boy, Matt, and I’m sure I only gave them to him because he was so cute. Maybe this is why I’m still so obsessed with Star Wars in my stories. It knocks up against another one of favorite themes: the dumb stuff young girls do for love.

Incidentally, I have another story, “The Pack of Mothers,” that also takes place on Halloween  and has a kid dressed up as Darth Maul. Maybe it’s time to get some new material.

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