Sometimes at various children’s events there will be a princess or two wandering around. Elsa, Bell, Ariel, you get the picture. Ridiculously sweet and fun unless, of course, you’re me. The truth is, I don’t know how to behave around people wearing costumes. I get all weird. My face turns red, my eyes get shifty, and I tend to talk utter nonsense. Am I supposed to address the character or the person? Would I feel more comfortable if I were in costume too? Maybe. Do I need to start carrying a wig? Probably.
I recently found out that Isaac and Gabriel are just as leery of people in costumes as I am. This past Monday we ran into Elsa at a local recreation centre. We were sitting on a bench when Isaac suddenly leaned over to me and stage whispered, “Elsa is here, and she’s talking to people!”
“Can we hide?” asked Gabriel, eyes wide with fear.
“Don’t make eye contact!” I hissed, staring pointedly down at my shoes.
We sat, heads bent, breath held, trying desperately to blend in with the bench. Then it happened. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I glanced up and saw that Emma was bouncing on her toes and frantically waving the princess over.
The boys and I watched with growing alarm as Elsa glided toward us. It was too late to run, so we sat, fidgeting uncomfortably while Emma squealed with delight. I realized then that I needed to start behaving like a grown-up, so I tried to strike up a conversation.
“Hey, Elsa,” I said, once she arrived. “You look pretty awesome.”
Shit. Why did I just say that? Now she’s going to think that I’m hitting on her! “I mean, your costume is awesome,” I amended. “Do you own that or is it a rental?”
“Thank you,” she said, graciously, “but these are my real clothes. My sister, Anna, and I keep all of our gowns at the castle in Arendelle.” She smiled a little more forcefully while saying that last part.
Isaac cleared his throat and ran his hand nervously through his hair. “Actually,” he began, “that’s not true. You’re wearing a costume. You’re not really Elsa.”
“Yeah,” Gabriel added, helpfully.
Even Emma chimed in. “You’re just pretend,” she said, as Elsa’s smile slowly began to droop. “But I love Frozen!” Emma continued. “I like Anna and Elsa, and I like your dress! Hi!” She fluttered her hand at the uncertain princess.
“Huh,” began Elsa. “That’s a first.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, smiling awkwardly. “I had no idea that was going to happen.”
Emma and Elsa chatted for a few minutes before Elsa finally curtsied and said goodbye. We breathed a collective sigh as we watched her float gracefully away. For the boys and I it was a sigh of relief, for Emma it was one of pure contentment.