By Alyce Wilson
October 24, 2006 - Scary Costume
Saturday evening, The Gryphon and I attended a Halloween party, held by some people he knows through his involvement in Philadelphia Area Gaming Enthusiasts (PAGE). The hostess was also celebrating her 40th birthday.
The home was on a dark street in the suburbs, and it was hard to see the numbers. The cars behind us got frustrated at us for driving slowly. But eventually, we found it.
greeted by a group of mostly costumed people sitting around a fire, joking
around and drinking. At first I thought this meant it would be another
outdoor party, like people in this group have done when the house wasn't
large enough to accommodate the guests.
I snapped a picture of the people around the fire, and immediately one guest said, "Which online publication is this going to be in?"
"What?" I asked.
"Aren't you a journalist? Don't you do a magazine?"
"Yes, but it's a literary magazine. This won't go in it. I do put pictures on my blog," I said. Kind of a strange moment.
Soon, the hostess greeted us. She was wearing a beautiful Renaissance dress with lots of filigree.
Her boyfriend, our host, was dressed as the Green Man.
The hostess led us inside to show us where everything was. In the dining room, she had a table spread with various treats, including a bowl of punch. It didn't have alcohol in it. It did, however, have eyeballs. There were bottles of vodka and rum and other things you could add to your personal cup of punch.
After dishing myself some eyeball punch and making conversation with a guy dressed in Renaissance garb, I drifted back into the kitchen. The Gryphon was surrounded by women, including a woman in a suit I later learned was Dr. Who, a she-devil, a bellydancer and a one-eyed character from some obscure SF show. There was also a Goth princess I wouldn't realize until much later in the evening was an author I already knew! She really looked fab in her costume, and between the makeup, the bustier and the wig, she was another character entirely.
I was dressed simply, as a Beat poet. I wore a black turtleneck, skinny black pants, my black brimmed angora hat, brown boots, a '60s flower necklace and a handmade leather bag, in which I had essentials, including "The Essential Beat Reader." I pulled it out and asked if anyone would like to hear some poetry. This got a response I didn't expect: groans and threats to throw my book in the bonfire.
"Shame on you," I told these SF fans. "Burning books?" Hadn't they ever read "Fahrenheit 451"?
Undeterred, I picked a poem at random and began to read. The bellydancer got her zils and was playing them between lines to comic effect. I then took a bow. A couple people had left the room by the time I'd finished. I cleared a couple more when I pulled my camera out. Dr. Who saw me and beat it. She told me later that she doesn't like her picture taken. The She-devil, however, didn't mind.
By then, it was me, the She-devil and The Gryphon. "I have a knack for coming up with scary costumes without meaning to," I told The Gryphon.
The kicker was later, when I was out at the bonfire talking to some people. The one-eyed woman told people that I had been reading "Vogon poetry".
"It was Lawrence Ferlinghetti!" I protested.
She told The Gryphon later that she was joking. Wish she'd told me; I didn't pull the book out any more, for fear that it would get a toasting. And I don't mean with wine.
Threats of book burning aside, I did have a good time. The hostess had two very sweet dogs and an equally sweet cat, all of whom I befriended.
Dr. DJ's wife, also an animal lover, sat on the couch, petting the cat while her husband played music on the stereo. Even though there was no DJ table at this party, he still took charge of the music playing on a CD player in the living room.
Strangely enough, because he was wearing a black wig, dressed as one of the Ramones, I didn't recognize him at first! Not until later when I took a better look at his face. Then I confessed my initial confusion to him, and we both laughed.
We had fun around the fire a little later. It was me, The Gryphon, Dr. DJ and his wife, who was sporting a witch hat. Also, a friend who I don't believe I've ever nicknamed but who wouldn't object to being dubbed the Horror Film Buff. There was also his friend, the Independent Filmmaker, who was dressed theatrically, as always, as some sort of undead masquerader. She wore pale blue contacts that made her eyes look funky.
I asked her if she'd like to come with me to an event I was attending Sunday night. I'd been invited to a screening of a work in progress by Robert Downey Sr., whom I'd just interviewed for Wild Violet. She said she was interested and thought her boyfriend, who runs the Danger After Dark track at the Philadelphia Film Festival, might like to go, too. So I gave her my card, writing my cell phone on the back, and told her to call me to finalize plans the next day.
Conversation around the bonfire was raucous. I don't really remember much of it, except that we spent a lot of time laughing and trying to prevent Dr. DJ from throwing plastic cups in the fire. His wife, in her witch hat, kept cackling joyously.
We drifted back inside when they decided to sing "Happy Birthday" to the hostess and cut the birthday cake. Instead of the usual song, they sang a humorous birthday dirge that many of them knew.
Having had some eyeball punch with some vodka, I was, well, punchy, so I was enjoying some of the snacks. I saw The Gryphon watching me, looking sort of concerned. He knows that I have a problem with overindulging on sweet things at parties, and I think he was debating whether he should say something to me.
I jokingly referred to him as my Superego, and he got that hurt face he gets when he thinks I'm being mean to him. So I apologized and gave him a hug. The truth is, the look on his face was just a confirmation of my own Superego, which told me I'd regret it if I went overboard on candy and brownies and cake.
Some of the other costumes I remember: one guy was dressed as a Centauri from Babylon 5. Strangely, I didn't even notice until the next day when I looked at the picture. His hairpiece wasn't as large as some of the Centauris on that series.
I spent a lot of time talking to Dr. Who about her costume. She looked quite good in her men's suit. I told her that, with her long hair, I knew quite a few guys who looked like that normally. She said that, being 5'10", you either learn how to sew or you wear men's clothes.
The hostess had decorated the place with a number of amusing Halloween decorations, including Halloween versions of famous paintings. When I tried to photograph a skull-faced version of "The Girl with the Pearl Earring", I got an indistinguishable black blob, as my flash was turned off. But later, I adjusted the contrast in PhotoShop and came up with this ghostly image.
We were having fun, but the night was getting late and we had a long drive ahead of us. So we said good-bye to the hostess, wishes her happy birthday again and headed home.
2006 by Alyce Wilson