"Of course you'll go." My friend was no help when I tried to find a way out of my Halloween Party date. A woman of 35 years had no business dressing up in a Halloween costume. What would I wear? My too helpful friend came to my apartment with one hour to spare lugging her satin sheets and a small suitcase. By the time she was finished, I was wrapped in a form-fitting toga, golden rope around my waist and a snake bracelet circling up my arm. My long tresses were twisted in soft braids around my head, strings of pearls looping through. I had on enough makeup for a Cleopatra, dark circles turning my eyes like a cat at the corners. On my feet were satin wrapped sandles (I think they were really bedroom slippers.) Kathy took lots of Poloroid pictures and finished with a marvelous gold necklace that filled the bare space above the bodice of the half-shoulder toga. I didn't look like me; so I must have been in costume. She also brought a gold fringed mask on a stick for me to hold at my face.
I greeted my date with the mask. He was dressed like a hobo, patches sewed to his wool jacket and sloppy jeans and a hat pulled down over his ears. We made quite a pair on the wintry Halloween evening, a cold front bringing the first whisps of snow on a chilling breeze. Waddling toward his truck in my tight toga was quite a trick, climbing in even trickier though he helped.
"Don't you have a wrap?" He logically inquired.
"I won't need one just getting in and out of the house." I had visions of sitting around the fireplace in someone's livingroom sipping on hot mulled wine and eating spooky cookies, decorations of ghosts and goblins and maybe costume contests. That's as far as my imagination took me for a party I was not anxious to attend.
We didn't even get in the front door. The hostess met us at the door with a scavenger list. A scavenger list! It was a list of things like thimbles, thread, a theater ticket, a wooden spoon and more - a dozen items in all - and we didn't get in the door until we had collected them from the neighbors. Other couples were already scattered down the street. I could barely see them through the thickening snowflakes drifing down in spite of a bright moon's inisistence on shining.
Dan quickly passed his jacket on to me; there was nothing to be done about the slippers. My toes were already nearly numb. The toga started to unwrap a bit the more I walked, making walking easier but setting up the fear that I might lose my gown altogether. Mostly, Dan went up and down the stairs at each house, asking for the items while I shivered on the sidewalk. People invited us in; but walking was just too difficult in my costume. I smiled a frozen smile and nodded, "no."
I don't remember much after we finally entered the home that smelled of hot mulled cider and nutmeg, colorful logs crackling in the fireplace. I never stopped shivering, followed by a fever and near pneumonia. I dimly remember laughter and singing and story telling about other Halloween evenings. Mostly, I remember that I have never been so cold. It's good that I had a few pictures of the costume at the beginning. The evening was spent in the hobo coat hoping the rest of the satin sheet didn't come unwrapped and that the toes would remain once thawed. The wind tore down the pretty beads and softly braided hair that hung in shreds down to my shoulders until I took a string and tied it back.
Please don't mention the word "scavenger hunt" to me or even Halloween parties. I'll just stand at my door, thank you, and hand out treats to the goblins and gremlins who are the right age for Halloween costumes.
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