Clown makeup isn’t supposed to make you feel cool.

It’s meant to make others laugh.

But two weeks ago, when my face was caked in red and white face paint, I felt more alive than ever.

Earlier this month, my boyfriend Justin and I visited Indiana Comic Con in Indianapolis. The annual weekend event boasts an opportunity to meet actors and actresses — Star Trek’s William Shatner was there — as well as peruse local artists’ creations and shop for curios.

I won’t sugarcoat it: Comic Con is a convention for nerds. You’ll see anime cosplayers walking the streets in some wild attire that weekend. You may also see Dungeons and Dragons players holed up in the convention center with nothing but a set of dice and their imaginations.

It’s basically a weekend for people to connect with others who share similar interests in niche entertainment. For those of us who like to dress up, it’s also like an early Halloween.

This year I showed up as Suki, a warrior from the American animation series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” that aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. (Not to be mistaken with the 2009 film “Avatar.”) It’s a popular cartoon from my childhood that breathed a second life in 2020 after it became available on Netflix.

Justin dressed as my character’s boyfriend, Sokka, although his costume choice wasn’t quite as recognizable. (He wanted to save money.) Suki’s battle appearance as a “Kyoshi Warrior” is easy to spot from a mile away — her garb includes a layered green skirt and gi top with a breast plate and faulds. Her face is also painted in a way that loosely resembles a geisha performer.

When I began applying some white paint to my face during a practice makeup session in September, my nose crunched up in disgust. I realized the sickening smell emanating from my paint brush was oddly … familiar. That’s when I remembered my past as a clown.

My Grandma Moorman performed as a clown for a few years when I was a kid. I don’t know what prompted her to slather white makeup all over my face — complete with little red hearts on my cheeks — and take me along with her, but something did. Grandpa even gave my alter ego a name: Skittlefritz.

I hated it.

Who wants to spend an hour applying cold paint to their face? Who wants to continue wearing that chalky nightmare for an entire evening? Not me.

Well, at least … not 15 years ago.

As I stared back at myself in the bathroom mirror after spending five hours on a painted makeup tutorial, I couldn’t help but laugh. I’m a total hypocrite.

On the day of the convention, the makeup only took me three hours. We were eager to get to Indy, so I may not have let the paint dry completely before each coat. (I paid for that later when it started cracking around my mouth. Justin told me it made me look “battleworn,” and I couldn’t help but smile at that.)

The makeup faults didn’t matter. We were greeted by a number of strangers who requested photos with “Suki” or “the Kyoshi Warrior.” Throughout the day we heard compliments and excited remarks about my outfit.

Being recognized by hundreds of people as a heroine I’ve always adored felt nothing short of exhilarating. For one day, I experienced life like a celebrity.

After the convention ended that evening, we walked across the street to a higher-end restaurant. Dozens of eyes from well-dressed businessmen and businesswomen stared at us as we waited for a table. To say we looked out of place is an understatement.

When I walked across the restaurant to go to the restroom, I noticed a little girl staring at me. She recognized me; her whole family recognized me. I spoke for a moment with her parents, and then I waved goodbye to the little girl. She never spoke a word, but her wide eyes said it all.

I wonder if she’ll remember our encounter. I know I won’t forget it.