because Halloween is the greatest holiday of the year, especially when it falls on a Monday and, therefore, begins the previous Thursday, your humble crasher went to about 39 celebrations this All Hallows’ Eve megaweekend.
One of the best, by far, was on Sunday night, when my mom turned 60 years old. My dad and sister Cristina began working out the logistics for the party over a month ago, knowing that my mom had long secretly wished for a surprise birthday. About 70 of my mother’s friends (the Red Hat Society Ladies were out in full force) and relatives, some of whom she hadn’t seen in a number of years, found their places around tables in a ballroom at the La Jolla Sheraton hotel Sunday evening.
At 6:20, my dad called Christina to ask if we had made it to the nearby Humphrey’s Grill, signaling his and mom’s arrival. Under the ruse of picking up a gift certificate for the small family dinner mom was expecting, the two made their way to the ballroom, where the party waited in the dark.
When the door opened, I flipped on the lights, everyone shouted “surprise!” and my roommate Marcus, a DJ and Jazz 88.3 radio host, played the Beatles’ “Birthday” over the P.A.
Mom’s priceless look of astonishment and gratitude revealed that, somehow, no one had slipped the secret, though some had traveled from as far away as the Bay and Arizona to attend the party. Marcus spun doo-wop and Motown hits while we ate, drank, and mingled around the ballroom for a few hours before making our ways home.
The next night, I went to the annual Halloween party at the Control Center, a music studio in the Linda Vista home of members of A Scribe Amidst the Lions, Knockout Bell, The E Team, and V Drago, who played a reunion gig in the living room after a set by the Flowerthief.
The costumes were impressive. Jeanna dressed up as her cat, Benny. Airykah, also a cat, ran translucent wire through her septum piercing as whiskers. Andrea was a crafty interpretation of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Nikki painted her face like an Insane Clown Posse Juggalette, competing for best make-up with Dustin, who a few nights prior painted up as Aladdin Sane–era David Bowie.
I dressed up as a raccoon newsie zombie (fortunately finding a vial of fake blood in the bathroom after depleting my own reserves about town in days prior) — a mash-up of my power animal, favorite musical, and preferred holiday-appropriate archetype. My friend Bonnie designated the look “hipster black swan finds a jelly donut,” a fair if not flattering interpretation of the outfit.
Bobby, a resident of the Control Center and University of San Diego chow-hall chef, prepared sushi and a taco bar in a sharp Satan get up. My good friend Josper and Bobby’s fellow USD chef Rodney tore up the rain-weathered piano in the backyard while a demon-horned woman spit fire with kerosene in the late night mist. “Everyone thinks it’s crazy,” the she-demon later told me about fire-breathing, “but I’m not worried about it. You just have to do it right. I knew someone who inhaled on accident and charred the inside of their throat.”
Coincidentally, by the end of an arduous several days of Halloween festivities, I, too, felt as if I’d been inhaling flaming lamp oil. But perhaps Dustin put it best when, in one of his classic enigmatic colloquialisms, he said, “Dude, you look like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet.” ■