Secret Recipe

Of the 50 or so Halloween parties I was invited to, I attended five. The fourth was at a house in Clairemont, and it was packed. Most of the people there were not in costume. I stayed half an hour and then headed to my final party of the evening in North Park. Patrick, who works for Fox News, rents a home there. The canyon in the back yard was full of fog, which I thought he had created for effect. Someone said to me, "How could he create that much fog? That stuff is real." I went inside to look for the host, and a woman said, "Your costume...there are five of 'em here." Since I went as Jew Hefner, I assumed she meant that there were five more Hugh Hefners here. I told her I didn't see anyone else in a smoking jacket and pajamas, and she said, "No, no. I mean, there are five other Jews at this party." The guy next to her, who looked a bit like Eugene Levy, I assumed was one. He confirmed that he was one of the five Jews at the party. I thought, If only someone dressed up like Mel Gibson. There was a DJ in the den who had a mix of classic rock albums and dance records. When a guy standing nearby was asking his friend if he knew the band playing, I said, "Isn't it PIL?" It was, and he and I talked music for an hour. Turned out he was a music writer for another local paper.

I asked him if he knew where Patrick was, and he told me Patrick was wearing a big sombrero. I saw a guy in the kitchen with a big sombrero and went over to talk with him, but several people were wearing the same type of outfit. I heard one guy yell, "Why is there no more vodka left?" His friend pointed to where another bottle was and then I asked them if they knew where Patrick was. They had no clue. "We couldn't even find vodka. How will we find him?"

The costumes included pimps, baseball players, pirates, Marilyn Monroe, hillbillies, and someone dressed as a cloud. A lady asked, "Is he a huge cotton ball?" I said, "I thought he was a marshmallow man." I saw a few people dressed as referees and said, "Are these just a bunch of Footlocker employees taking advantage of their workclothes?"

When I saw another guy in pajamas, I asked him if he was supposed to be Hugh Hefner. He said, "Doesn't my White Russian give it away?" Then it hit me -- he was "the dude," from The Big Lebowski. Someone asked, "Do you think Jeff Bridges goes to parties dressed as any of his characters? Or Johnny Depp, going as a pirate?" I offered, "For Bridges, it would be easy. But I doubt Depp, without makeup artists, would go through the trouble."

One guy was dressed as Colonel Sanders. I told him a story I read about Sanders having a long-time affair. He said, "As I walked in, a woman said that her mom had an affair with him. I was worried when she said that, not knowing where she was going with it." I laughed and said, "I guess he was doing a lot more than working on that secret recipe."

I didn't arrive until after midnight, and there wasn't a lot of food left. One guy said, "Earlier, we had a bag of chips catch fire." He held it up and showed me the burn holes in it. "I just told everyone that they were now baked chips." Patrick approached and asked if he could get me anything. I introduced myself, and he showed me around.

I asked about his skeleton because someone told me it was real. "Up until 1974, the largest export of India was skeletons that were used for medical purposes. It was a staple of their economy. Some government body decided that this wasn't cool, and they don't sell them anymore. My friend Andrew, his dad had this in his house." I believe Patrick said that the guy was a dentist and practiced on it while in school.

There were a lot of people who weren't in costumes. Several other people wore their masks on top of their heads. I asked an African-American guy why he wasn't dressed up. "It's hard enough being a black guy, normally...."

Someone overheard this and said, "Last year I was Darth Vader, but wearing a Winnie the Pooh costume. It was hot as Hell. I thought that Darth Vader should be able to have fun and dress up on Halloween."

I asked Patrick about Fox News. I told him that I interviewed for a job there years ago. The job was to write the news for 7/39 and required a college degree but only paid $9 an hour. He laughed and said that it's not uncommon for copywriters to earn low wages. I thought, if a newscaster is making hundreds of thousands a year, and the person that is writing copy for them is making less than $10 an hour, there has to be tension on those sets.

Just then Devo's "Whip It" came on. Patrick said, "Damn! This is the one song on this album I don't like. Hey, if you have any songs you want the DJ to play, go tell him." I already thought he was doing a good job, when I heard Cream's "SWLABR" half an hour earlier.

I went outside to see a few people with whom I had talked earlier. They were discussing wine. I moved on to another table where everyone was excited by the fact that the time change would allow them an extra hour to sleep in the next morning.

I tried to convince myself to stay longer, since it was now 2:00 a.m. and not 3:00 a.m. But I was worn out from an entire day of parties, and I had been sick for a few days. As I left, a guy in drag said, "Josh, do you remember me?" I was a bit worried hearing that. "You wrote about my dog's birthday party in Hillcrest."

He's a television personality in Mexico and told me about a great party he went to in TJ. He said he went with a friend from Canada who had forgotten his passport, and they had to smuggle him back into the U.S. at 8:00 a.m.

When I got home, coughing and sneezing, I discovered the best thing about my Halloween costume. I kicked off my slippers, took off my smoking jacket, and, already wearing PJs, jumped into bed.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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