Jennifer and Eric's Halloween Party (etc)


I've had quite the weekend, and did several more things than just stay the night at Jennifer and Eric's in Shelton for their Halloween party, but that was still by far the most significant thing I did over the course of Saturday and Sunday.

The two days were bookended by movies watched at home with Ivan, actually, so that was the first notable thing done on Saturday: after a 45-minute walk running errands that included deposting checks into Shobhit's bank account and picking up dry cleaning, Ivan and I watched his Netflix copy of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I kind of forgot how much I really enjoyed that movie. I guess Ivan really liked it too; he said he had seen it before. I found myself wondering if he had gone to see it while living with me the first time, if the movie came out in 2014 -- but, it was released in March of that year, and Ivan did not move in with me until the end of April.

We started the movie at maybe a little after 11:30, so it was over by 1:15 or so. That gave me just about an hour to finish getting ready to leave. I left with my two bags (one tote bag with the stuff I packed for the trip, and my regular shoulder bag) and then drove Shobhit's car to the ferry downtown. An hour ride to Bremerton that cost $15 one-way, then roughly an hour drive from there to Shelton. It would have been close to a two-hour drive if I had gone all the way down through Olympia and back up around the southern tip of Puget Sound to Shelton, and Shobhit and I both agreed I wasn't spending that much more than I'd otherwise spend in gas by paying to take the ferry, and this way I cut two full hours off my drive time over the weekend. And if I can avoid driving, I will.

I arrived at Jennifer and Eric's house at about 5:00, right at the time I expected. To my surprise, several cars were already in the driveway, but there was one space still left for me to park in so I didn't have to park on the street. A few people I didn't know were already there, but so were Dad and Sherri, who had been there a while. Eric had texted Sherri earlier in the day asking for some help with prep because he was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Sherri didn't dress in a costume, but Dad sort of did. He wore shorts with a Hawaiian shirt and a safari hat. It literally hit me just now as I was writing that, that he and I were basically drawing from the same playbook for Halloween costumes: make it as simple and comfortable as possible. I like to try going for clever too, if I can.

I dressed as a fairy. I managed this by, for perhaps the first time ever, not spending any money at all on anything new, and only using things I already had. I literally did not have any idea what I would dress up as until less than a week ago, but then I remembered the fairy wings Shobhit delighted in getting for free at the Volunteer Park Pride Festival last June. I still have the white wig I first used when dressing up as an "angel", which everyone then actually thought was a fairy as well, because the wings I had then -- long since discarded -- looked much more like that than angel wings, back in 1998. I really try never to repeat costumes (the one exception being when Shobhit and I dressed as a "cowboy and Indian" in both 2004 and 2012, but I decided that was okay because a) there was no overlap at all in the people seeing us in-person in costume those two years: Andrea and Walt's Halloween Party as well as the annual open house at Dad and Sherri's in Olympia in 2004; and the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval in 2012. Since I started dressing up for Halloween in 1997, I have otherwise never repeated a costume.

With the fairy thing, in terms of first impressions, one might say that this year I repeated my 1998 costume -- but for intention: I told everyone in 1998 I was an angel. In retrospect, I did look far more like a fairy than an angel. There was another fairly stark difference between that year and this one, though (aside from the fact that certainly no one but me even remembers what the hell I dressed up as for Halloween 19 years ago): as a playful response to how often I wore all-black at the time -- which was nearly always -- I wore all white. It's the reason I got the white wig at the time; the wings were white; my entire outfit was white, even the shoes, or I guess I should say slippers; I even wore white nail polish -- all of that evident in this photo showing me from head to toe in the outfit. I even colored my eyebrows, although I can't remember at all what I did to do that. They look more gray than white in the photos.

I was 22 that year, by the way.

Anyway. This year's costume is far more colorful, and came with clear ties to my being gay -- something that was not in any way a part of thinking for the 1998 costume, even though I was out at the time. But if in my mind I'm an angel, any "fairy" aspect is lost on me. Although now I keep thinking of the year Grandma McQuilkin dressed as a fairy godmother, and Sherri said, "Say 'I'm the fairy's grandmother!'" In any event, I wore all-pink or red, which contrasted well with the blue fairy wings, and also wore a tiara and held a scepter, both of which I've had at my desk at work for well over a decade. I just never thought to incorporate them into a Halloween costume until now, and it occurred to me this morning I could easily repurpose the tiara for a future year: just get a bouquet of flowers and be a beauty queen. Something to think about!

I would have much preferred the white wig this year to be pink. I even made an attempt at making it that way: I soaked it overnight in a bathroom sink of water turned red with food coloring. But, turns out, that doesn't stick. The interesting effect is that the wig came across more like a light-blond color than white.

This is actually the second time that wig has been repurposed, by the way, although only the first time I've re-used it. Shobhit wore it when he and I dressed in drag for Halloween 2014. And speaking of that year, it just occurred to me that I guess I dressed in drag twice, although there's another key difference between 2014 and when I dressed in a woman for Halloween 2001: In 2001, I didn't really think of it as "drag," but literally dressing as a woman. The 2014 costumes were much campier and therefore far more drag-inspired. So I still say I've only done the same costume twice one time!

I'm just really happy I managed this year's costume, which got a far better response than I expected (I really feared people would just be like, "Meh," for some reason -- clearly unfounded), without spending any extra money at all, and using exclusively items I already had on hand. The hat alone I used for last year's stupendous Willy Wonka costume (which I use to this day as my user icon in Outlook and Skype at work, and which I don't think can ever be topped -- so it was totally worth it), cost me something like $25. I'm definitely going to keep the Beauty Queen idea in mind for next year or another year, though. All I need is a sash and maybe I'll put on running makeup to make it look like I've been crying. I like that idea more the more I think about it.

But this year: straightforward, make-no-mistake fairy. I did not drive down in costume, but went to put the wig and tiara on in the bathroom after I arrived. I then walked into the kitchen and Sherri giggled when she saw me and said, "The fairy's here!" Later some guy whose name I can't remember -- he may have been one of Eric's brothers -- made some crack about how I'm a fairy anyway. I wish I had reacted differently than just giving him a semi-irritated "whatever" kind of look; it was indeed the whole point of my costume. But there was something in his tone when he made the quip that annoyed me, and it was also dumb for him to go out of his way to state the obvious as though he were being clever. But whatever, the moment passed as quickly as it came.


I couldn't tell you how many people were actually at this party, but it was a lot. It could very well have been forty, and I'm fairly certain I did not know who half of them were. But here, I'll still do a roll-call of the people I did know:

1. Jennifer
2. Eric
3. Hope
4. Chase
5. Ian
6. Kay, a family friend and sometime gas station employee of Eric's who is temporarily living with them -- she did not dress up

7. Eric's mom whose name I forget
8. LeRoy, Eric's stepdad
9. Caren, Jennifer's mom
10. Ron, Caren's husband [neither he nor Caren dressed up]
11. Dad
12. Sherri
13. Matthew (me)
14. Gina
15. Beth
16. Mary, Beth's sister who was here for a last-minute week-long visit from Iowa
17. Aunt Raenae
18. Toni Marie
19. James
20. Thayer [Toni and James's second]
21. Kylar [Toni and James's third]

-- and there must have been at least that many I didn't know. I should probably know one or two of Eric's brothers by now, but I don't, especially if they (one of them? both?) are in a Halloween costume. Jennifer had at least two friends from where she works at the post office. Eric was careful to make the Facebook invite a private event so not all the many people who friended him as he ran for city office would feel insulted that the did not get invited. He's got 1,167 Facebook friends now, after both last year and two years before that running -- and losing -- for an elected position with the city of Shelton that I can't remember. It's not City Council, I don't think. In any case, this party was clearly just for family and good friends.

To Jennifer and Eric's credit, they are always accommodating when I ask if I can stay the night -- in fact they always want me to, and asked before I even had a chance to bring it up if I would be coming to stay overnight during my Birth Week in April like I have for a few years now. For a few years, actually, we'd stay overnight at the other's place either in April or in October every year. This year this Halloween visit basically served as the overnight visit for fall, and both times this year I stayed at their place. I might be more inclined to ask Jennifer to come stay in Seattle once I no longer have a roommate again, but that's likely to last one more year at least. Although you really never know with Ivan. I just hope he gives me ample time to prepare, because I will miss him more than all other roommates combined. That notwithstanding, Shobhit and I will be better off when we finally get back to the normalcy of living at home just the two of us.

Shobhit's still stupidly bitter about anyone who didn't vote for Hillary -- and especially about anyone who voted for Trump -- so he had a convenient excuse for missing this party by being in India. We'll see how things shake up for Jennifer and Eric's combined 40th/50th birthday party on November 18 (which I suggested they do, when I was there at Moses Lake for the family get-together in August). Shobhit quite realistically will have a work shift anyway. He'll definitely be coming down to Olympia with me for Christmas, but he never has any problem going to Dad and Sherri's (except that he gets bored, and I say: fucking suck it up). I don't even know for sure who Dad voted for and suspect we all may be better off not knowing. It's really stupid that Shobhit still lets this stuff get to him at this point anyway -- being spiteful about the past instead of looking toward making a positive future is straight out of Trump's own playbook, and it drives me crazy when Shobhit doesn't see that he's behaving exactly like the man he hates so much.

I really have no idea what kind of costume Shobhit could have had this year anyway. He probably would have been thoroughly delighted to wear those fairy wings himself. I guess we could have both gone as fairies.

But, I digress. The party was a lot of fun. I drank a lot: Jennifer made me four cocktails and three shots. The shots were all black vodka on top of mango puree (which she put into skull-shaped shot glasses), which worked surprisingly well. Three of the cocktails were "Caramel Appletinis". Jennifer warned me that it was super sweet when she gave me the first one, and I scoffed: "I love sweet!" And then it was like, holy-shit sweet. I asked her to cut the sweetness with apple cider with the second one, which significantly weakened it. I asked her to make only a quarter of it apple cider instead of half for the third one, which was better. And then there was another cocktail she made me that wasn't super sweet at all but was fairy tasty, I can't remember what it was called except I think it had the words "zombie" and "slime" in it. Oh right, it was definitely this: Zombie Slime Shooter. Sherri was drinking one of those when I arrived.

Oh, and I also had a Jell-O shot. At first I resisted, citing the gelatin, which I try to avoid. But then when I'd had a few drinks I stopped caring. I don't know why; it's not like I'd ever get drunk enough to actually eat meat. But I mean, Jell-O is tasty.

Aunt Raenae had a few of those Jell-O shots, which genuinely surprised me. I don't think I had ever seen her drink before. She even took one for the road when she left! She wouldn't even let me take a picture of her in her costume (just in pajamas with a Teddy bear -- pretty sweet and innocent if you asked me) until I promised I would not post it to Facebook. She was afraid of Michelle, her fundamentalist daughter-in-law, getting online at a library (those nutcases home-school their kids and I guess don't even have home Internet) and seeing that she had gone to a Halloween party. I found this particularly odd since Aunt Raenae has come to Dad and Sherri's Halloween open houses for years, but whatever.

I did, however, surreptitiously take a photo of her sucking down one of those Jell-O shots. I only noticed later I also have a photo in which she's drinking a cocktail -- the latest in a long line of unflattering photos I have of her either sleeping or shoving something into her mouth. At least that one's a group shot and she's not the focal center of it.

Now that Hope, Jennifer's oldest, has decided to become a vegan, Eric made his usual stuffed mushrooms this time without the bacon that previously prevented me from eating any of them. So, I had a shit ton of them. They were so good! He also made his famous artichoke spinach dip, the leftovers of which he sent me home with; I replaced the usual cheese and lettuce with it on the veggie burger I had for dinner last night. If not for the mushrooms, I suppose I would have filled up on crackers and cheese cubes. As it was, there were several of the stuffed mushrooms still left set out in the kitchen yesterday morning, so I basically had most of what was left of those for breakfast, even though they were now cold. Both Jennifer and Eric made comments about me being brave to do that, and that the cat had probably gotten into them. I didn't see or taste any cat hairs so whatever.

I had zonked out at about midnight on Saturday night, and then woke up at about 7 a.m. yesterday morning. I had drank a bottled water and taken Aleve, so I had only the vaguest hint of a hangover, and felt much better once I had eaten something. That said, by the time I got home yesterday I had a veggie hot dog just because I felt like I was desperate for some substantive protein.

I left for Bremerton at about 11 a.m., and caught the Bremerton ferry at 12:20. Home by about 1:30, and I had roughly an hour and a half to edit and upload the party photos -- the full set of which, complete with more details in captions, can be accessed by clicking either of the two still photos in this entry (or you can also just click right here!).

I then met Laney at the Captiol Hill Light Rail station at 3:15, and we went downtown together to watch the truly terrible movie Geostorm. And I do mean terrible: I gave it a D+. It will easily rank as the worst movie I've seen all the year.

And of course I expected that, but it still exceeded my expectations in terribleness. Laney and I love watching dumb disaster movies, but this one maybe we should have waited for Netflix. The other thing was we wanted to experience the seat-moving, multi-sensory "4DX" presentation of a movie, and thought this would be a good choice for that. I'm glad we did it just the one time, but we both agreed we never need to do a "4DX" movie again. (Side note: there were maybe six people in the audience.) And tickets are $25! Before Shobhit has a heart attack about that, though, I did get mine at a discount: I could use one of the discounted Regal tickets I now buy at Costco and then just pay the balance, so I only had to pay another $11.80. I guess with the value of the Costco ticket that's still something like $19 though. If it's any consolation, I'll never do it again -- which I expected to conclude. I just wanted to be able to say I'd done it. If anyone else wants to take my advice that it's not worth ever doing, then I'll have saved someone else the time, money, and trouble.

On the trips there and back, Laney and I had lots of lively conversation. I told her all about my odd Friday night, and she thought it was cool that the stranger sitting next to me at that movie held my hand during the sad part. Then, Laney ran into one of her neighbors sitting right across from us on the train on the way back.

So we parted ways at the Light Rail station, and I took a LimeBike home. This ride I did not have to pay for; I had a free ride voucher in the app on my phone and was finally able to use it, since there was a bike right there outside the entrance to the station. I guess I inadvertently snatched it from someone else who was coming to find it using the map on their own app, because a friend on another bike suddenly said, "He's taking your bike." The guy on foot was just like, "Oh man!" They weren't mad or anything though and just went to look for another one that was somewhere in Cal Anderson Park. It makes me think maybe that's really all the issue is whenever there's never been a LimeBike waiting for me when the map says there is one: it doesn't update quickly enough after someone else snatches it. Still, it's annoying to see the bike marked on the map in an empty spot you're literally standing in.

It saved me the time of walking home from there, anyway -- I suppose it saved me maybe five minutes. Every minute counts! I wrote my review, which I had to break from twice to clean up Shanti's puke, and then made myself the aforementioned veggie burger for dinner before joining Ivan to watch his other Netflix movie, The Shining.

I had to have seen that movie at least three or four times before, and for some reason this time I found it particularly unsettling and creepy. I guess Ivan waited for me to watch it instead of just doing so while I was out of town, and when it ended he even said, "Thanks for watching that with me, Matthew." More than once he mock-admonished me for looking at my phone during the movie, which we both know is dumb because he does that constantly during 90% of the movies we watch together. (Interesting to note though: he never once looked at his phone when we watched Twentieth Century Women, which thoroughly engaged him; I was actually slightly taken aback when he never had his phone with him.) And to be fair, almost any time I was on my phone I was looking up information about the movie. So there!

After that it was time for bed so now we're all caught up.