It’s only now, one year later, that I’m able to write about it. There’s still the occasional shaking and clinging to the sheets at three a.m., and there’s an arbitrary flashback I now understand is common to people who suffer from post-traumatic-stress syndrome.
It was Halloween 2009. Halloween fell on a Saturday. I recalled my own youthful exuberance when Halloween fell on a Saturday. So swept away was I in my own reminiscences that I actually allowed my then seven year-old son to convince me that having an open house Halloween party for the entire town was a great idea.
I handed out flyers and sent emails. I chased sales and hoarded party food—I had an obscene amount of Lays Potato Chips in my pantry and made enough chili con carne to start my own greenhouse effect. I lucked out in the decoration department—since the exterior of my house is in a state of total disrepair, all I had to do was throw some dollar store cobwebs over the hedges and I had an authentic haunted house. I tried to talk my 6’5” husband into playing Lurch, but he lacks my joie de vivre.
Unfortunately, the day began with a drizzle and when me and my friend Marian set out at noon to trick-or-treat with the kids I learned that if you stand in the drizzle long enough you get soaking wet in a slow torture kind of way. Along the trick-or-treat route, my husband, Jim, joined us.
“How long is it going to take you to notice what your husband did?” Marian queried.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Take a good look at him and tell me,” she replied.
I walked up to Jim and studied his face. Something was definitely different, but…
“He shaved his mustache,” she shouted in frustration.
I looked at him and began to internally freak out. I’ve known the man for 26 years and in all that time I’ve NEVER seen him without facial hair. For confirmation, I cautiously pulled his face closer to mine. Yes, his upper lip was as naked as a baby’s bottom. Amused, he grinned from ear to ear, again shocking me because his mustache had hidden his upper teeth and this was the first time I had ever seen them, and to tell the truth it startled me.
“Do you like it?” he asked.
I replied, “You had to do this when we’re having a huge party tonight?” Poor man, he looked like Charlie Brown without the benefit of a sheet with holes under which he could hide. But I had no time for placating because I had to get home and get the house and food ready for a party of…I have no idea how many. That’s the problem with open houses; you could get 5 people or 500.
At first, no one came, but somewhere between no one arriving and 8:30 the house became standing room only. My wrist began to ache uncorking so many bottles of wine, but it was a good pain! The kids went off by themselves allowing the adults to forget we were adults and act like this was a house party and our parents were away for the weekend. It was exciting and fun to stand around talking and laughing about things that had nothing to do with kids. We even applauded when a child came downstairs (read: Narc) to tell us that everyone was emptying their loot bags in my son’s room. “Fantastic!” I remember saying. Anything that gave us parents a chance to talk without interruption was good.
When everyone left, and the magical effects of the wine wore off, my house looked like Candy Land on an acid trip. As I climbed the staircase, my foot stuck to the Mary Janes that were cemented into the carpet. The sheets on all of the beds had to be changed because chocolate (at least I was hoping it was chocolate) was smeared all over them. Clinging to the walls were Skittles and gummies, the floors contained landmines of crushed candy corn. Someone TP’d my bedroom, and the shower curtain rod was split in two. We finished cleaning somewhere around dawn vowing never again…
So the party this year is Saturday before Halloween. Should I send out flyers, or is this good enough?