Unidentified Party Guest

When the doorbell rang, I glanced around the room and counted. I had a clown, belly dancer, hobo, large mouse, a gypsy and Carmen Miranda. All of our invited guests were present. Who could be at the back door? Assigning my twelve-year-old daughter the job of passing glasses of vile-looking green punch to our guests, I went to see.

Standing on the deck at my back door was an old woman dressed in a long, colorful skirt and shawls. She stood so hunched over a black cane, it was hard to see her face. Despite that, I was able to tell that her long nose and wrinkles were soft rubbery plastic. Wisps of gray hair stuck out from under the babushka that she wore on her head. She spoke no words, but motioned to indicate she desired to enter my house.

Mesmerized by this mysterious stranger and sensing only benevolence radiating from her, I stepped aside. The unidentified party guest (UPG) hobbled into the dining room. My two daughters and our guests all fell silent. After greeting each costumed child with a one-armed hug and motions to indicate her approval of them, our UPG finally retired to a chair in the corner of the room.

I offered the UPG a glass of the punch made with orange juice, Sprite and tubs of green sherbet, saying, “It looks vile, but tastes good.” Lifting a gloved hand to show its palm, she shook her head no. I said, “We’re going to play a game now, do you want to join us, or just want to watch?” The UPG used two fingers to point to her eyes and then pointed at the children gathered around the dining room table to indicate that she wanted to watch.

When my older daughter was in sixth grade, I began to put on Halloween parties each fall. Instead of buying tapes of spooky sounds, we had fun recording the tapes ourselves. While recording one part I slowly opened the squeaky hinged front door to protract its squeal. In a high-pitched voice I cackled and singsonged the words, “Come on in my little dears, the cauldron is just coming to a boil.”

My daughters, Niki and Tammie, helped prepare by making decorations. Taped to all of my cupboards were pictures of jars filled with horrible ingredients that they thought witches would use. Some of the more memorable labels were, “Tongue of Newt, spider gizzards, snakes teeth, baboon farts, kitty hair balls and toe jam.”

After putting my homemade Halloween tape in the player, I turned to our guests and announced, “Now we are going to play a game that I call, “’Leftovers from Frankenstein’s laboratory’. Please put on the blindfolds on the table.”

Announcing to the blindfolded guests that I had fingernail clippings from a giant, I suggested that they could reach in a bowl to feel them. Each let out small screams as they felt the crushed bits of uncooked egg noodles. Our UPG watched and nodded.

The next sensory item was leftover skin. The wilted lettuce leaves produced bigger screams from not only our guests, but also from Niki and Tammie, because I had never told them what I really had in the dish.

My final item for this game was a breakfast sausage warmed to body temperature. I said, “This is a finger that Frankenstein had left over after he finished making his monster.” Feeling the warmth of the supposedly severed appendage had the girls jumping to their feet and screaming.

At my command they all took off their blindfolds and began to laugh and talk as they examined the contents of the dishes.

As I began to serve the Halloween meal listed on the menu, blood pie (Pizza) and worms in a blanket (hot dogs) and dirt cake (crumbled Oreo cookies over chocolate pudding), our UPG slowly got to her feet. Waving good-bye to the children, she bent over her cane and shuffled to the door. I opened it and said, “Thank-you for coming.”

When I returned to the dinning room, everyone asked, “Who was that?” Looking mystified, I shrugged my shoulders. I had never looked to see what sort of car dropped her off or picked her up. None of the mothers of my guests had revealed plans to surprise us in this way. The funny thing is, I really didn’t want to know. Everyone should be so lucky to have such a benevolent unidentified party guest for Halloween at least once in their life.


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