I went to two different parties on the Saturday before Halloween. The first one was in Imperial Beach. Lea, who invited me, told me most of the people attending were employees of the UCSD Medical Center.When I got to Angie's house, only a few people were there. I told her I had other parties to go to and hers was first. I asked who else would be attending. She said, "There will be nurses, doctors, residents, X-ray techs, paramedics. We all get along. I've worked there for three years, and we have parties for everything. Someone may have a baby or a promotion..."
Angie and her daughter were moving a table to block off the upstairs area, and I asked why. Angie said, "Last year a few of the women got drunk and went upstairs to sleep. And then guys were going up there. I can't keep my eye on everything, and I want everyone to be safe."
I asked Angie why she wasn't wearing a costume. She said, "I was going to be Marilyn Monroe, but somebody forgot to bring me the costume." That surprised me, since she was a short African-American. I didn't know how much she'd do to make herself look like Norma Jean.
An hour later, someone else showed up as Marilyn Monroe. Angie said, "It's good I didn't wear that costume." This Marilyn looked pretty, but with so much makeup around her eyes, at first I thought she was a drag queen.
I asked the first four people who arrived at the party for some horror stories regarding their work. One told of a patient who had put lightbulbs up his rectum. The doctors debated for a while on the best way to remove them and not "wreck 'em." Breaking the glass would cut him and do more damage.
Another guest added a story about someone who had a plastic bottle get stuck in the same area. But it was the story about a homeless guy that still has me up nights. He couldn't urinate, and the doctors found they had to remove dollar bills. He said he hid them there so they wouldn't be stolen while he slept on the streets. I still cringe thinking about it. And if a homeless guy asks me for money, I'll no longer be wondering if he'll be buying booze with it. I'll just hope he buys something with it. When they told the story in detail, I was so horrified I couldn't even say anything like, "Hey, do you have change for a 20?" I was just thinking of the pain.
Within half an hour, this house was packed with people. One couple came as Dr. Seuss's Thing One and Thing Two. The guy was telling me his mom had made the costumes, and it took her quite a while. He then proceeded into the kitchen to make some things of his own. He invented a drink called a Ballistic Missile. It had vodka, Grand Marnier, amaretto, and pineapple juice. I laughed when they were looking for shot glasses. There was a guy named Jose dressed like a bandito. Instead of bullets wrapped around his body, he had shot glasses. I had told him earlier that the glasses would be gone by the end of the night. And those were the glasses the Ballistic Missiles were served in. When the guy in the Thing costume shook the drinks, his hair went all over the place. I told him he should be Don King next year.
The most interesting drink had to be the Dragon's Blood. Lea combined Bacardi rum, vodka, Mountain Dew, black cherry Kool-Aid, and dry ice. She mixed it in bowls and it smoked. I asked if it was safe to drink it with dry ice. A doctor turned around and explained that dry ice was just CO2 and was safe. I guess you can't get any safer at a party full of doctors and nurses. Lea's friend said, "That dry ice was expensive. It was $1.19 a pound."
One guy was wearing a Magnum, P.I. costume. Somebody said, "What year is it? It's not 1985." I figured the guy looked enough like Selleck that it was an easy costume; a mustache, Hawaiian shirt, and Tigers cap. If you look like Elvis and aren't an Elvis impersonator, it's the one time of the year you can dress like the King. And there was an Elvis here. He was African-American. I couldn't tell if it was his real hair styled to look like Presley's or if it was a wig. His costume was great, though.
I noticed there were about five other African-Americans here, but none of them were dressed up. I thought one was dressed up as Rick James at first. But I was told that was the way he always looks.
One cute Mexican couple showed up dressed like gangsters in pinstriped suits and carrying tommy guns. At one point, the counter had six different guns on it. It looked like a Gotti family gathering.
One Asian girl was wearing a white trash bag that said Britney Spears. I asked what that meant and she said, "I'm white trash."
Wait a second. Didn't I receive lots of angry letters last time I mentioned "white trash" in a column?
People were quickly filling the tables with food. Someone brought deviled eggs that looked like spiders. It must have taken lots of work to cut olives into all those legs. Someone else brought hundreds of Rice Krispies Treats. Angie was running to the oven to make meatballs and brownies.
Lea was collecting money for the DJ and for cleanup. I was surprised she was able to collect $200 two minutes after making the announcement. She refused my money, but I wanted to contribute. The DJ was doing a great job of playing a lot of hard-core hip-hop early on but playing more Top 40 dance tunes when some of the older crowd arrived.
Lea's daughter was wearing wings and black leather. The wings were hitting a few people in the face when she walked by, and at one point she took them off. When she was drinking some Dragon's Blood, I asked if her mom minded her drinking. She said that she doesn't drink much and her mom didn't mind. I also found out she was 18 and already had two kids. One of her babies was at this party and was so cute. When the father was holding him, he kept grabbing the ears of his dad's devil costume. Someone said, "You'd think the baby would be afraid of the mask." I said, "Maybe it's like Rosemary's Baby. He knows that's his father."