Florence, Kentucky was not yet Y'alltown -- there was only one water tower -- and my elementary school had a huge Halloween festival with all kinds of cakewalks and games and the gym was transformed into the most gorgeous sight a child would ever want to see. All we had to do was take a dollar, and it was a guaranteed good time. No costumes were required for the Saturday school event, just showing up and taking it all in was overwhelmingly wonderful, we were tickled to buy tickets to the different prize booths, pop balloons, see our friends' parents dressed up like clowns -- just a good ol' Americana good time, plus it was a great fundraiser for PTA and all that benefited thereto.
For trick or treat, we didn't buy costumes, either. We were always one of two 'characters: A) a bum or B) a kid with chicken pox/measles/some sort of skin malady that Mom would mark on our faces with Charles of the Ritz lip pencil. Then all seven of us Thomas children would head out with a paper bag from Albers, and head down Wallace Avenue, the long, long street that was perpendicular to our home on Burlington Pike. We'd return with our treasures an hour later and dump it all on to the floor, pick out the Sugar Daddys and Black Cows for ourselves, and then the rest was up for grabs. We didn't have to look into all the candy to see if anyone had put something crazy in it, we didn't fight over the 'remains' and we were allowed to eat it all in one sitting if we wanted. In fact, the next day, there would not be one iota of candy left. I think Mom figured it was better to get the sugar overdoses over with all at once instead of spreading it out over a week or two...
At any rate, as is probably true in your hometown, times have changed. When I'm lucky enough to get back 'up' to Florence these days, I always return to the spot where our home used to be -- it has a Little Red Schoolhouse upon the property now, there on the corner of the Pike and Oblique Street (I always loved the name of that street ;-) -- I also now realize that Wallace Avenue is only about a quarter mile long, and Florence Elementary's gymnasium is no longer used for a Halloween festival (can't 'offend' anyone with celebrating Candy and Cake and Spaghetti-for-Brains-Haunted-House rooms anymore) -- but I still love to go there and recall fond memories of blissful, oblivious innocence. I do get nostalgic at the thought of all those days gone by, and of my parents, sister and friends who are now with the Saints...and I miss them. So I usually can be found eyeballing a pumpkin roll or two, but really, Halloween is more or less a date for me to start cleaning house and getting ready for The Holidays.
However, last night, I went to a wonderful party at my friends Bob and Allie's, a Bewitching Bash, and I had the chance to actually rock out a cool costume, see people I know and love in their various costumed incarnations, talk about music and theatre, and eat some delightful treats made by Allie, who is always gorgeous and a helluva lotta fun, but seems to come even more of a lovely live wire when dealing with the ghoulish details of celebrating the undead. She is definitely in her element when preparing for and pulling off the ultimate ghost and goblinFest.
She and Bob turned their gorgeous home into a cobweb covered creation of skeletons, disembodied heads, spiders, pumpkins - everywhere you looked, there was something so cute and creepy to see, it was just the perfect place for a Halloween party.
I also loved it that Allie kept calling me her doppleganger, since we were both in red and black -- I was rather ghastly as a wicked temptress and she was a breathtakingly voluptuous vixen - not a tough act for her to pull off, but for me, it took a bit of work.
First for me, there was practice run of make-up application earlier in the week ... which was foolishly done with waterproof eyeliner and I ended up looking like Grandpa Munster and Adam Lambert's love child - it took me 3 showers using my roughest toughest newest Spongebob washcloth and Irish frickin' Spring soap (on my face!!) with some kinda apricot foot scrub to get some of it off ... but actually, I had to use chicken fat and butter in the end, because that stuff was NOT coming off without some kinda grease, and I don't ever use cold cream or even Crisco (two words I never thought I'd use in the same sentence).
But seriously, the practice makeup session was in and of itself a horror story in the making, and I did take a few photos...which are as hilarious as they are hideous, so I'm only going to post one here...the rest may emerge someday just for shiggles, though.
So I learned to not use so much eyeliner - especially stuff that would stay on through a hurricane, flood, blizzard AND avalanche -- and I also realized that with the right costume, some false eyelashes, and the perfect crowd, I was going to have a frightfully good time no matter what...and I did.
|Never, ever use this much waterproof eyeliner unless you need to seal a vault or patch a roof...|
When I got to the door and saw that Allie's Bob was dressed as Hank, a 'character' from Studio Players' much beloved and recently closed show The Jungle Fun Room, I knew I was in for a treat. (Later, I would watch "Hank" whip the television some of us were gathered 'round when Spurrier's Gamecocks lost to the Cats in the closing seconds of the football game (UK intercepted a hail Mary pass in the end zone with 4 seconds to go ... and aww... but hell to the yeah)!
What followed was just that -- a real treat -- a parade of some of the coolest lambchops I know entering the room as various characters, all perfect for their actual personalities.
My favorite was Tim X. Davis as Brett Michaels, though. I could not look at him and be serious - it was so funny to see him flip that blonde hair back and look at him with the eye pencil...oh my. There were so many cool outfits - from Debbie Sharp's 'Sun' to Hilary Brown's Easy Bake Oven, I was uber impressed, a little giddy from the champagne punch, and very happy to be amongst such a nice bunch of folks.
So my Sunday - the day after - has been a little quiet, as my eyelids are recovering from the removal of their first pair of false eyelashes and I've returned from my pretend land of wicked ways, wenches and wigs. I finally kicked the lid off my coffin this afternoon at some point and laughed at the trail of clothes, eyelashes and bobby pins that I'd left behind once I made it to bed last night.
It sure was fun to come out of my shell a bit and discover my inner temptress, though, and I am so glad I know good people like Bob and Allie (and TimX, and Natalie Cummins...and Leif Rigney...and so many more -- all the cast and crew of this spookily scintillating soiree).
I guess my point is that this good time party crowd really did the trick, and the treat was that it put the icing on a week that didn't start out as a cake walk, but ended like one.