Shhhhhhh!

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 José 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.

"You know," began Janine, observing our predicament, "this is just like if Anne Frank had tried to throw a kegger in the Annex!"

At which point we all, of course, loudly guffawed.

And then, of course, were promptly shhhhed.

If it weren't for the sweet mojitos—virgin, this time; I was driving again, and I like to be safe like that, yo—that Kathy fixed for me the next night during the Program's post-Halloween bash at the Bamboo Terrace, my Halloween weekend very well might have been a total loss. But instead, as I sampled the Terrace's absolutely delish orange chicken—did you know that you can order food if the bar's not too busy? Because I didn't!—and gazed at the people who had dressed as their favorite rock star—especially my friends Thomas and Ivan, teamed up as Hall and Oates, and the beautiful Kate Beckinsale-ish chick with the laudable smarts to go Aladdin Sane; but my lightning bolt was better, so there!—I began to relax and remember what it felt like to have a good time.

And the good times will surely continue this week, what with all the amazing shows rolling into town. Kick off the weekend on Thursday as Que Sera hosts the Tinderbox Cabaret, a Dia de los Muertos-themed night of eclectic art and music presented by a couple of adorable guys I met at the V-Room last week, including a performance by Rocco de Luca and live muralists. Then on Friday, catch soon-to-be buzz band The Stills opening for Echo and the Bunnymen at the House of Blues. The stupendously billed All Tomorrow's Parties boards the Queen Mary on Saturday, so be sure to relish sets from the likes of Sonic Youth, The Shins and Spoon before hitting up Alex's Bar for a show by the Alleged Gunmen and 400 Blows. On Sunday, head down to Detroit Bar for a night with the Helmut Stein Experience, or check out the Orange County Comedy Festival's Young Comedian Night at Martini Blues in Huntington Beach. If by Monday you still can hear, don't miss the intense drumming and luscious jam-band stylings of Rusted Root at the House of Blues, or stay in and save your ear drums for Tuesday's Ex-Models show at Chain Reaction. Oh, and before I forget: while standing just out of ear shot from José Cuervo at the Halloween party, I happened to trade whispers with a few of the boys from Insulin about their Wednesday gigs at the Liquid Den this month. Although I can't guarantee sorority girls or faux addicts will show up to their next show, I can tell you that a former David Bowie impersonator will be on hand with her designated drivers. And we'll be loud, so don't you dare try to shut us up.

I promise to use my inside voice. Invite me out! egriley@ocweekly.com.

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