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."
One guy had a white mask over his entire head with big stitches all over it. I asked him if he was hot in there and he nodded. I said, "With all these doctors here, couldn't you just get some real stitches for the party?" I was surprised that the entire time I was at the party he never took it off.
I saw a guy in an Indian costume, and I thought he looked as if he should be in the Village People. I think that band has ruined many a Halloween costume. You can't be a police officer, construction worker, Indian, or sailor without people wondering where the rest of the band is.
There was a woman in a cat costume who looked sexy shaking her tail around. Another lady looked classy in a Victorian outfit.
I saw one guy wearing a baseball uniform. I saw the word "Sox" on the uniform, so I said, "I bet you wouldn't be wearing that outfit if the Red Sox hadn't won the World Series." He replied, "Yes, I would be. It's not a Red Sox uniform. It's the White Sox." D'oh!
There was a pirate and I asked where her eye patch was. She pulled it down from her head and said, "I walked into a wall earlier, so I took it off." I couldn't figure that out. Ray Charles never walked into walls. And this gal still had one good eye.
I talked to an interesting guy named Francisco Ramos. He is bilingual, which he said helps in the ER if he needs to translate things. He mentioned that 50 percent of the patients don't speak English, which surprised me.
He was telling me a story about his family not talking to him because he hangs around with a lot of white people and because of the profession he chose. I felt bad for him.
One gorgeous gal was the Queen of the Damned. Someone asked, "What happened to your teeth?" She replied, "I can't drink with them in" and held up her hand to show she was holding them. I thought of my late grandmother.
I saw one couple putting Capri Sun into their drinks. They said the drinks were too strong. Probably a good idea. After I had two cups of Dragon's Blood, I wondered about my blood and what alcohol level I'd have driving to my next party. I was getting buzzed. The two Ballistic Missiles probably didn't help things.
As I finished the last of my drink, still amazed by the smoke coming from the liquid in my glass, one gal said, "I was at a Halloween party in Nebraska. My costume that night was a punk rocker. I was drinking Everclear, and they lit the top of it on fire. When I was drinking it, I burned off my eyebrows and eyelashes." I guess dry ice is safer than fire.
I ate a few Rice Krispies treats and headed out. I asked a guy in an overcoat and a skull T-shirt who he was. He said, "I'm the Punisher." The woman with him said, "See. I told you nobody would know what that costume was."
The second party I went to was back in my neck of the woods in Mira Mesa. Chas and Mary Kloman, the couple who threw this party, were also involved in the Monster Manor haunted house in the Mira Mesa Mall.
They told me they throw a Halloween party every other year. This had to be the best-decorated house I'll ever see for a party. Their driveway is about 300 feet long. There was a fog machine and a graveyard built into the front lawn. The driveway had chairs, and a mock funeral was set up, including casket and corpse.
When I looked at the upstairs window, I saw a bride, her head spinning around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. In the back yard, the window had a neon sign that said "Bates Motel" with a silhouette of a man with a knife.
The bathroom downstairs had a severed head attached to the lights. But what was scarier was the gong they had outside the door. Just as I was getting my pants unbuckled, somebody decided to hit it. I almost didn't make it into the toilet!
The upstairs bathroom looked like a crime scene. It had a body in the bathtub with blood splattered on all the walls and a knife sticking out of the chest.
The rest of the house was equally well-decorated. A giant spider web, skulls, and candles everywhere. And even the table with all the food had some creepy things. A brain made out of a Jell-O mold. Other edible body parts. Chips, dip, cheese, and crackers had fake cockroaches near them.
I asked them how long it took to decorate. Chas said, "It takes us two months to get everything set up. We do a few hours each day."
The back yard was the best. The gazebo had an electric chair that he built himself. A skeleton stood behind it, waiting to strap the headgear on. A strobe light would periodically go off, which gave the illusion of electrocution.
The back yard overlooked a canyon with lots of trees. The hosts had utilized them as well. Some had bodies hanging from nooses. One tree had a witch with her broom crashed into it. A sign below said "Don't drink and fly." It was funny and a good reminder that I probably shouldn't drink at this party. I was still buzzed from the first one.
One guy was dressed like a woman. Everyone kept grabbing his chest. I said, "Why is it, when you are dressed like that, people think it gives them permission to just grab you? It's like people touching pregnant women's stomachs. I bet they hate that. How many times has someone grabbed you tonight?" He laughed and said, "A lot." His friend replied, "Oh, come on, he loves it. And this isn't the first time he's dressed up as a woman."
His name was Steve, and he worked at the Monster Manor and also does singing telegrams. (I think his business is in Temecula.) I asked if his business was hurt by computers. I read stories that, with so many people e-mailing, the post office has lost a lot of business with first-class letters. I imagine that would probably hurt his business as well.
He said it had, but he still gets enough jobs. I said, "Most people get embarrassed if the waiters sing 'Happy Birthday' to you at Friday's. Don't people get embarrassed when you come to their door to sing?" He said, "Sometimes. I've had some people shut the door on me. Oftentimes, people hire me to sing at their work or a restaurant. And if the person runs away, I'll just continue to sing for the crowd."
One woman had giant breasts made for her shirt. I heard one guy say to his wife, "You can't get mad at me for looking at that. It's just a costume." When a guy dressed up as a priest walked by her, he said to all of us, "You guys better all come in for confession tomorrow. I see what you're staring at."
I looked at all the tables in the back yard. One bowl had various plastic body parts. Next to it was a machine that said "Lorena Bobbitt Wringer Washing Machine." It had a body part next to it. One guy grabbed it and said, "This is what happened when we got married, dear."
One of the eyeballs on the table looked real. When I touched it, the stickiness of it grossed me out, but not enough to keep me from touching it again.
I asked how they would clean up all the fake blood. Mary said, "We use general all-purpose cleaners. We have 409 and Windex. We don't do it all the next day. We take our time cleaning."
When I was standing by one of the two fire pits, I was looking out toward the canyon. I remembered how, at a wedding party I went to in Julian, they told me the canyons made the noise worse for the neighbors on the other side. When I asked about this, Chas told me, "The cops showed up at 10:00 p.m. I thought that was kind of early for them to tell us we were too loud. It's the Saturday night before Halloween. I think our neighbor may have called; I'm not sure."
Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.