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SideLines: The best (worst) Halloween party ever

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 11:11 a.m. CST

It was going to be the greatest party ever.

A few years ago, some friends and I decided to hold a Halloween party. Not just any Halloween party, but the party to end all parties. It wasn’t going to be scary. It was going to be a clever, sort of old-fashioned good-time party for adults, but one that kids could attend if no one could find a babysitter.

At that time, my friends were renting the bottom half of a huge three-story house in a rather dark neighborhood. The house itself was the perfect backdrop for any spooky event, much less one involving Halloween.

It was an old, wooden structure with fading white paint that just seemed to loom out of the trees. At night in the fall, the way the street lights hit it, the house looked like something out of the old “Munsters” TV show.

Anyway, the four of us – my friend and his wife, the woman who was staying with them and myself – began making preparations in early September. We thought and we planned and we argued, but eventually we came up with something that everyone was happy with.

To create the right atmosphere, we adorned the back porch with corn husks, mounds of hay and pumpkins of all sizes, most of which we carved ourselves. We had an old-fashioned bucket of shockingly cold water in which guests could bob for apples, something none of us had ever done before.

Inside, we stuck more corn husks along the railing of the stairs that led upstairs. Throughout the house were miniature pumpkins, Halloween cutouts and various things you expect to see at Halloween. On the day of the party, we replaced all the lighting with blinking orange lights. We also had a tray of orange-colored finger food, orange soda, orange punch and anything else we could think of that seemed appropriate.

We rigged up a sound system to play typical Halloween music, eerie sounds and blood-curdling screams.

And then there were our costumes. I dressed as a hippie newspaper reporter (it somehow made sense at the time). My friends’ roommate was a princess or something like that. And my married friends – you’d have to know them – dressed up as dueling ballerinas. Unless you saw him, you can’t imagine what the husband, a rather substantial man, looked like in a baby blue tutu.

Everything was set. We invited a ton of people to our party, which was on a Saturday, two days before the big day itself. When party time came, we sat back and waited.

And waited.

Eventually, four people showed up. I’m not going to count the couple my friends invited who, on the verge of a breakup, fought the whole time they were there. (Instead of breaking up, they got engaged a week later.)

Two of those who showed up were a woman who brought finger food and a date. I thought it was implied beforehand she was supposed to be my date, but apparently she didn’t get the message.

One of the others who came was a girl we had known from high school who saw the lights and wondered what was going on. The whole time she was there, she kept telling us she had to leave soon.

The fourth person was this nice, quiet, elderly man who lived alone in the apartment upstairs. For a costume, he showed up in a white shirt and a sad, little red tie. It wasn’t until months later, after my friends moved, that we found out he was a convicted child molester.

So maybe it wasn’t the greatest Halloween party ever. It’s still one none of us who were there will ever forget.

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