During the workshop, Taylor took many notes but also found that he had filled several blank pages with doodles. Houses, vehicles, or abstract art typically filled the pages of his doodle sheets. However, today was different. Important information was fragmented by sketches of his costume, shoving most other information out of his mind. A tingling sensation was forming in Taylor's toes from his excitement about attending the party. Minute by minute, the party grew closer. An eternity later, the workshop ended, and Taylor emerged from the auditorium. He had just over an hour to eat dinner and make his way to the party.
Taylor returned to his car, where his Pop-Tart and potato chip dinner was waiting for him. He was running on a tight schedule for the evening; the dorm key was only active until midnight. After gobbling up his snack dinner, Taylor opened the trunk of his car and grabbed his gym bag. Throwing the bag over his shoulder, Taylor set off on foot across the field to the party.
There was no mistaking that Taylor had found the correct building when he arrived. Pink signs were taped to the front doors, and he could hear the distant thumping of wild music. Uneasiness plagued Taylor's mind. His heart racing, he reached for the front door. He mustered the courage to open the door after a brief hesitation.
Taylor stopped like a deer in headlights after he stepped in. Unsure of where to go, he just started slowly down the hallway. Despite the availability of rooms designated as changing areas, Taylor played it safe and headed to a restroom where he hoped for a bit of privacy. The sign on the door had been covered with a homemade paper sign, with its stick figure resembling the figure near the adjacent doorway.
Taylor's hope for privacy was shattered as he pushed open the door, startled by the view. He had seen men in drag before, but there was something different about seeing them in various stages of preparation. Some were working with make-up, while some were doing final fittings of their costumes. Taylor felt the stares from several of his new colleagues but most paid him no mind as he self-consciously worked his way to the only available stall. In the safety of his stall, he hung his bag on the coat hanger, sat on the toilet seat, and stared at his bag.
After the crowd seemingly died down, Taylor regained his composure and stood up. Trying to minimize sounds as he suited up, Taylor slowly unzipped the bag. Out came the wig, which was hung delicately on the hook with the bag. The new shoes were set on the back of the toilet. He dug around until he found the dress. Holding the dress up, it seemed to challenge him to a staring contest. Setting the dress back on top of the bag, Taylor pulled off his shirt and let it fall to the floor. After slipping off his sneakers, he grabbed the dress again. This time, instead of stepping into the dress, he decided to pull it over his head. He placed his hands above his head, up through the skirt, and into the arm holes. As he let the skirt fall down his body, the weight pulled the bodice into place. Thanks to his newfound zipper shimmy, the dress was on.
Taylor began to relax. He wiggled his pants down and kicked them off to rest near his shirt. He replaced his crew socks with his lace-embellished socks and slipped on his new shoes. He positioned the wig haphazardly on his head, covering it with the hood. The only thing left in his bag was the heart-pendant necklace. Taylor undid the clasp, removed the tag, then fumbled with it until he had it secured around his neck. Quickly he scooped everything up off the floor and shoved it into his bag. Discretely, Taylor opened the stall door and stepped out.
Much to Taylor's confusion, there was still a person in the restroom. Instantly, Taylor became green with envy as he saw a figure dressed as Princess Poppy. But envy turned to embarrassment as he realized that Poppy was staring straight at him, not knowing for how long. “I was wondering how long you were going to stay in there.” Poppy wasted no time in breaking the awkward silence with small talk. “Oh, yeah?” came the only response Taylor could muster.
Poppy introduced himself as a boy named Jordan, with Taylor following suit. “Your dress is off-kilter,” he said as he straightened the waistband and resituated the hood, uncovering Taylor’s face. “You new here?” Already knowing the answer, Jordan didn't let this opportunity to make a new friend go to waste. “Yeah; This is my first costume; I just got it last week”, came an unconfident response. “Well, let me give you some advice. People at this party will tell you how to dress and how to act. Just be yourself. Don't let them tell you who to be.” “Thanks” Taylor politely responded, instinctively returning the compliment with a slight curtesy.
“So why did you pick Red Riding Hood?” came the next question. “I don't know" Taylor then paused for what seemed to be forever. "I suppose it was my most practical backup option. I wanted to be Poppy, but I don't have the skills to pull that off yet. You've managed to pull it off nicely.” Taylor couldn't catch a break. “Thanks. I love dressing up in bright colors. They help me be confident. Who has a brighter costume than Princess Poppy? Nobody!” Taylor was feeling more comfortable with his new friend already. “I guess I made the right decision not to be Poppy.” But Jordan disagreed: “Hey, I think twins would be just fine.” With an arm around Taylor's shoulder, Jordan led the way from the restroom to the party.