It’s Party Time!
by Valerie Nusbaum
Let me start off by wishing each and every one of you a happy fall season, or as my Aunt Faye would have said, “Happy Fall Y’all!”
I might as well wish everyone a happy Halloween, too. October 31 will roll around before we know it, followed by Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and all the other fall holidays.
I don’t know about you, but I’m just not ready. Maybe the horribly hot summer had something to do with that. I’m definitely ready for cooler temperatures, but all the work that goes into all the holidays has me feeling exhausted just thinking about it. Instead, I’m thinking about past good times and relishing the fact that I don’t have to work any harder than I choose to this year.
Randy and I, and my parents before us, have always enjoyed a good Halloween party. I’m reminded of several parties we either threw or attended, where one thing led to another and things got out of hand.
There was a work party years ago when Randy and I both worked at a local bank. Roxann and Harry Welch and Randy and I got the bright idea to wear a joint costume. Randy suggested that we all go as a hand, with each one of us being a finger, and carrying the thumb along. We made the costume out of carpet padding, and that thing weighed a ton. We had to lie down and wriggle up into the fingers and then we had a terrible time getting upright. Not to mention that we had to crowd into an elevator and no one had a hand free to push the buttons. We’d cut holes in the finger pads for our faces, and so we could breathe, but we wore plastic masks so that our co-workers wouldn’t recognize us. Needless to say, we came out of the hand as soon as possible, which was a good thing because we had to run all over Frederick in the dark finding things for a scavenger hunt. Randy and Harry may or may not have done something illegal. That’s all I’m saying.
Once, my family rented a huge building and had a very large party. At our parties, guests can wear anything they want, and they don’t have to come in costume at all if that’s not their thing. Randy and I spent all day doing elaborate decorations, even creating a maze for guests to walk through. It was pretty great. One person even suggested that we open it to the public and charge admission. We didn’t do that. We did, however, do a murder mystery that year. Every guest had a part to play. It got a little crazy because, as we all know, people can’t follow directions or stick to a script.
Our friends, the Heffner-Joneses, throw a themed costume party almost every year. One year, the theme was Downton Abbey. It was fun dressing in 1920s attire that night. Another time, the theme was Harry Potter. Randy went as Farmer Brown and I was a black and white cow because those were the costumes we had on hand. Mind you, Randy had to re-write one of the Potter novels to include those characters, but our hosts were so impressed by Randy’s invented story that he won first prize in whatever contest was being held.
Last year, we were instructed to come dressed as our favorite country or rock and roll act. Naturally, we went as The Village People. Yes, I know there are only two of us and six Village People. Randy was the construction worker, and I was the cowboy. We carried small versions of the other four. Most of the guests didn’t get it, and Randy’s mustache wouldn’t stay on.
Another year, we hosted a party here and invited my cousins and elderly aunts. My mom was with us then, too. We had to call the paramedics for that one, and the party ended earlier than intended.
It’s always fun when hosting a Halloween party to come up with delicious-tasting but horribly gross or scary food. I’ve created werewolf fingers and bloody dipping sauce, a Jack o’lantern that threw up guacamole, tiny sandwiches shaped like bats and ghosts, and Jack o’lantern pepperoni pizzas.
There have been other Halloween/fall celebrations, such as the time we had a scarecrow-making contest. That one got combative pretty quickly, and the prize was only a box of candy.
One year, at the Murphy’s house, Mr. Murphy dressed up as Pippi Longstocking and Aunt Gladys was a gorilla. This was notable because both of those folks were older then than I am now. They were good sports, but they did have a few problems playing charades while wearing their costumes.
My brother, our friends, and I used to go to our Grandmother Ella’s house in West Virginia to help her out with trick-or-treat since she had hundreds of kids come by each year. We’d dress up and decorate the yard and scare the kids, and our grandmother would have treats inside for us. She used to make homemade gingerbread with a warm lemon sauce to pour over it. Delicious!
As I look back on all these good times, I’m especially grateful for good friends and a wonderful family, and also that I’ll probably be at home in my pajamas this year.