As a middle-aged couple with no children it often becomes difficult for me and my wife to take part in the childish things we love. My wife and I have a collection of children’s books – from Dr. Seuss to Roal Dahl – but no one to read them to. We have children’s films – from Bugs Bunny to Toy Story – but no one to watch them with. We fly kites every May and carve pumpkins every October.
For Halloween we throw a big adult party to disguise our love for such a children’s game.
We’ve made it a big annual affair filled with food, music, big prizes and lots of gooey pumpkin mess.
Each year the affair has gotten bigger and bigger. Originally, it consisted of a few friends and some snacks and has now ballooned to a house full of guests, a democratic voting on best pumpkin complete with generous prizes, and more food than anyone could possibly eat.
This year my wife went all out in the food department. We had sautéed chicken with a peanut sauce, home-made spinach artichoke dip, an enormous cheese plate with a variety of French and Italian breads upon which to place them. There were strawberries with a chocolate fondue, and some kind of fancy cheese bread with bit of prosciutto melted into it. To top it off we served pumpkin-spiced cheesecake with apple cider for dessert.
It was delicious.
This was the first year I have used an MP3 mix tape for the proceedings. Normally, I spend many hours sorting through my music collections making a handful of carefully selected CDs to spin during the party.
You see, I am an old style lover of the mix-tape. A great mix is a piece of art. The flow of songs from Track 1 Side A through the end of the tape is something to be chosen wisely, the music should make a statement and be a true expression of the tape maker. Frankly, this year I just didn’t have the time to make the proper mixes and threw a large stew of my favorite MP3s onto one disk and hit shuffle.
The guests arrived and we began enjoying the bountiful feast my wife had prepared. Being a graduate student in French Linguistics, my wife’s friends tend to be an international lot and this year was no exception. We had guests from China, Korea and Russia with us which made for a lovely mix of culture and ideas.
Coming from a family that makes any game, no matter how trivial, into a full-fledged contact sport I laid down many a taunt over my supremacy in the pumpkin-carving field. This year's boasting was even more over the top as I had won last year’s contest.
As is usually the case when I become boastful, I screwed my pumpkin up royally. I had planned on being experimental this year and chose a two-sided pumpkin carving. The idea was to carve a ghastly skeletal ghoul on one side and his sickle on the other. This way, when fully lit and placed near a wall, the sickle would create an ominous shadow.
A prize winner for sure, in theory, but in practice it was too difficult. I accidentally cut too far into the face, destroying my skeletons eyes and right ear.
Disgruntled and cursing I took a peak at the rest of the gang. Our Asian friends, having never carved before, were creating a simple triangle-eyed face. While on the other side of the spectrum, Daniel made a winking devil creature with his battery powered, electrified pumpkin jig-saw!
With a half-pumpkin disaster, I had to start over on the other side and this time chose something simple – a young man looking into a mirror only to see a horrid reflection. As everyone was already finishing up, I rushed myself and once again screwed up. It looked more like a poorly designed ghost instead of an eerie mirror face.
Votes were tallied and our new friend Bryana, from Kansas, won with a giant spider.
Dessert was served and pictures made as everyone shuffled out to their homes. Well almost everybody, a few stragglers stayed for a few Simpsons Halloween specials before I warned them off with a dozen yawns.
Around midnight, my wife and I shuffled off to bed with a kitchen full of pumpkin guts, dirty dishes piled high, a contest lost, and dreams of next years bigger bash on my mind.