A Halloween how-not-to-do

Photo by Jessica CalkinsDuring the course of my 22 riveting years here on Earth, I've managed to learn a thing or two—how to make a mean batch of butterscotch haystacks and to do The Hustle—but I'm a little behind when it comes to "time management," as the kids say. So of course I waited until 5:30 p.m. on Halloween to get the necessary goods for my costume. "But it's 5:30 p.m. on Halloween," I reasoned to myself en route to the costume store. "I'm sure that everyone else in Orange County planned ahead and already has their costumes. I'm golden!" An hour later, as I finally reached the front of the check-out line and slapped down a can of orange hairspray-paint and tubes of red, white and blue face paint, the aging hippie cashier muttered, "Dressing up as a patriot?"

"Actually, I'm going to be David Bowie, circa Aladdin Sane," I growled. He looked more than a bit confused, so I added, "You know, kinda like Ziggy Stardust?" Still nothing. I forked over my credit card. He scanned it and offered, "Yeah, well, if that doesn't work out, you can always go as the Grateful Deadskull."

Craptastic! The 48-year-old Halloween-store cashier had failed to envision my retro costume. A bad omen, most definitely.

In retribution for my best friends' tireless commitment to designatedly driving my drunk ass all over Southern California for the past five months, I decided to do my part and offer myself as the sacrificial DD for the Hallowed eve. After painstakingly painting a blue-outlined, red lightning bolt across my white face and enlisting the efforts of Janine (dressed as the Makeout Bandit) and Marie (as a fabulous Lil' Red Riding Hood) to coif my hair into a hot pink (It was just the bottle cap that was orange! Ha!) mullet, we piled into the Civic of Love and sped off to the Red Room for some pre-party drinks.

Now, a note about red face paint: it looks fabulous! Except when you're in a red-lit room. Then you just look normal.

So it was no wonder that Blake the bartender—is it an unwritten rule that all bartenders dress as mulletted NASCAR fans on Halloween?—eyed me curiously from behind the bar. Or maybe it was just because I'd just ordered a pint. Of water.

Aching for some crazy downtown party action, the girls sucked down their drinks, and we headed up the street to The Madisonon Pine Avenue for a costume party thrown by SWYS Gallery, Seams and The Program.

Another note about red face paint: it looks amazing! Except when it's pouring rain outside. Then you just look like Carrie.

Regardless, as we descended down the stairs to The Madison in the basement, I was feeling pretty confident. I was, after all, a chick who had dressed as Aladdin Sane. And that's just hot. While I was waiting in line for another pint of water—this time with a lemon! Ooh!—a blond-wigged boy in a sky-blue oxford approached. "Hey! I was going to dress as David Bowie!" Recognition! I swooned.

"What a coincidence! But what did you decide to do instead?" I asked, coyly staring into his equally sky-blue eyes.

"Oh, this?" he said in an isn't-it-obvious? tone, pointing to his wig. "Well, I'm a heroin addict!"

Erm. Um. Ah. Well, shit: "How clever!?"

"No! Really," chimed his pal in a pirate costume, in an isn't-he-the-coolest tone. "He really is a heroin addict!"

"Really!" I caught my friends conveniently standing a few feet away, making their way through some midget-sized $7 Jack and Cokes, and began to walk over to them, bidding farewell to my afflicted new friend: "Well. I must say. You look fabulous!"

Really, folks.

Fortunately, our final destination for the evening was not a dress-as-you-shoot-and-become-hooked-on costume party, but rather a cutely clever dress-as-you-drink party at a beachfront condo on Balboa Peninsula hosted by some UCLA sorority friends of our friend Natalie—who made a stunning red-suited Bloody Mary with a stalk of celery strapped to her arm.

Maybe we should've known something was awry when Nat phoned at 9:30 p.m. to ask if we could bring a stereo with us to the party—first rule of party-throwing: have a functioning stereo—but we were in no way prepared for the spectacle we encountered. See, there isn't much that can go wrong in a situation where sorority girls, a beachfront condoand a ton of alcohol is involved, except when that situation includes the much-too-sober father of one of the much-too-sloshed sorority girls, the same man who happens to not only own the condo—which also happens to have pissed-off, uninvited neighbors in units above and below—but who is also present at the party.

Still, the bash—puking waifs, poorly tapped keg, rude glares and all—wasn't so bad until round abouts 1:15 in the morning, when our hostess, Miss Josť Cuervo, was ordered by her father to get the kids to settle down. And so ensued a half-hour of "Hey, you guys! I'm not kidding! Shut the fuck up or my dad'll kick us out" followed by precisely 4.5 seconds of whispering, and so on. Anon.

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