It has become tradition for me to have a pumpkin-carving party every year, the weekend before Halloween, born out of my desire to have a Halloween-themed party and not have to actually compete with everyone else’s superior Halloween parties in better homes than mine. This annual event involves tromping through a pumpkin patch to find the most stupendous squash to mangle. The number of participants has always varied, but historically it’s been ten or less. This year, I had twenty people tell me they were coming, and I began to panic a little. Where will I put everyone? How will I FEED everyone? (For some reason, it is very important for me to feed people. I worry about people leaving my home and thinking I am a poor hostess because I did not consider their comfort when they were in my care. It might be a midwest thing–we don’t break out the ‘l’ word very often, but if we stuff you like a grizzly preparing for winter, you have a pretty good idea about how we feel about you.)
In the grip of “How will I feed everyone” panic, I began cooking and prepping the day before in a frenzy. Over twenty apples dipped in boiling water to remove wax, rolled in caramel, decorated with white chocolate spiderwebs and then dipped again in dark and milk chocolate and various toppings. Cupcakes made with fresh-grated pumpkin. Pumpkin seed brittle made from the seeds of the pumpkins I just grated. Crab dip made and poured into a brain-shaped mold. Several pounds of chicken chopped up and marinated to make walnut-rolled chicken nuggets the day of. Fresh-made cider warming on the stove. Italian beef prepped for the crockpot at 5am the day of. Black bean guacamole. Pastry-wrapped brie. A bleu & cream cheese log. In addition to this, Kirsti brought cupcakes she made, Emily brought a crockpot of chili primero and the fixings for her special margaritas, Tristan brought a pumpkin-bourbon cheesecake, Aisling brought a wonderful bean dip, and Rebecca brought spanakopita.
Sleep-starved on the day of, I began moving my living room furniture into my bedroom, and particularly struggled when it came to the moving of the couch. Even with the addition of monster fur and glitter vinyl, it is still at its heart an Ikea couch and thus made from the lightest, cheapest materials on planet Earth, and should have been a piece of cake to drag from one room to the other. Not so. I huffed and puffed and heaved and ho’d, and when the couch finally gave way, it rammed into my foot with surprising speed and ripped up my big toenail, which is a pain that sucks more than I can even begin to describe. Two Hello Kitty bandaids held me together for the day but I limped around like a racehorse looking for a place to be shot. I’m still limping around that way, and I hope this doesn’t take too long to heal or it’s going to put some serious cramping on my style.
I could have rocked back and forth on the carpet, weeping like the world’s fattest baby, for quite some time, but one, I was bleeding and didn’t want to have another mess to clean, and two, the dog tried to cram his tongue down my throat in an effort to comfort me which only made things worse, and three, I still needed to get stuff done and complaining and bleeding wasn’t going to accomplish these things.
Earlier in the month, I had picked up this battered guy from a Goodwill for a few bucks:
It was chipped all over and the paint was grungy in a way that a scrubbing wouldn’t fix, so I decided to repaint it entirely and give it a couple of clear coats to give it a nice shine and hopefully prevent it from ever getting that dirty again. I also painted the nails with glow-in-the-dark paint, which is not really a detail that would go noticed by many people, but I’m still glad I did it.
All of this was because I had big plans for the brain-shaped crab dip. That brain mold has been the bane of my existence since I bought it for my mad science birthday party in the hopes of having a mess of gelatin organs sitting on a bed of ice and dry ice in my bathtub. All I got in that instance was the mess of gelatin because it tipped over in my fridge not once, not twice, but three times, with my shouted expletives becoming more emphatic upon the discovery of each new refrigerator-destroying mess. So I was rather apprehensive about how this whole thing was going to work, but not apprehensive enough to buy a bunch of pounds of test crab. Instead, I crossed my fingers, made sure to oil the mold well, and popped it in my fridge. This mixture was much heavier than the plain gelatin mixture, so the mold was less wobbly and managed to stay put. I cursed a little when I attempted to DEmold it the next day and it firmly stuck to the mold, but after I ran a knife around the edges, it plopped out nicely and to a good effect, I think. Next time, a little pool of cocktail sauce ‘blood’ ought to make it perfect.
Not all the food is out yet in these pictures, but usually I forget to take ANY pictures.
This TV was there just for atmospheric purposes, it played a looped DVD of ‘spooky’ x-rays.
But before all that, we carpooled to Buckley to visit Maris Farms. In the past, we’ve gone to Carpinito Bros, but in addition to the corn mazes and pumpkin patches that Carpinito has, Maris has got apple howitzers, corn cob air guns, pedal cars, a slide, a monster truck, and the triple crown of pig racing–so the choice seemed quite clear. I was nervous about the predictions of rain, but the rain that we did get was light and manageable, and for the most part, it DIDN’T rain on us. I have been historically VERY lucky on pumpkin-picking days and haven’t been rained out yet which is surprising as October can be a very wet month in this area.
When Carrie showed up, she showed me the engagement ring she’d received the night before, and said her fiance had intended to propose to her in the pumpkin patch but found himself unable to wait any longer. I am thrilled for her and honored that it ALMOST happened at my party!
The first order of business, besides getting some coffee in my face, was to see how how I measured up.
After those of us who wanted food or coffee got their mitts on those items, we made our way to the corn maze, which was full of horrible illustrated pun signs asking us to solve the ‘cornundrums’ and a series of checkpoints where the path split, and if we answered a question correctly, we would be given the direction in which to travel.
We may or may not have broken the language rule. We technically did not break the corn-throwing rule, but next year there will probably be a new sign informing guests that they ought not have stalk-slapping fights resulting in shrieking girls chasing one another down muddy pathways threatening vengeance. You know. If that had happened, which I’m not saying it did.
The monster truck ride, though short, was very fun and totally worthwhile. Life doesn’t often present one with an opportunity to ride in a monster truck, and I firmly believe that when these sorts of opportunities are presented, one should leap upon them as quickly as possible, even if it means smacking one’s forehead on a roll cage bar in their frenzied excitement.
After the monster truck ride, it was nearly time for the next pig races, so we made our way back to the track and placed our bets on what we knew in our hearts to be the speediest swine. Each bet was donated to St Jude’s Children’s Hospital, but this didn’t take away the fun and excitement of being invested in the winner of the race. Also, once you bet, you were presented with a pig nose to wear, and that’s also not something at which someone should turn up their nose.
Money was laid in my name on Arnold Schwarteznhogger, pictured here being given a good-luck kiss.
Fueled with kiss power, Schwartzenhogger took the race, though it was quite close! I was surprised at how fast pigs can run, as I hadn’t ever thought of them as being speedy animals.
After watching the pig races, it was time to pick pumpkins and head back home for food/booze/non-muddy clothes.
We drank hot cider with lots of rum, Emily’s killer margaritas, bitch beer…all in preparation for going to see Paranormal Activity 2, which Emily would not do without being loaded with booze. When we arrived at the theater, we found that the most recent showtime was sold out, so we waited at the bar for the next show and drank some more. We also had pockets full of tiny bottles of rum and jager and flasks of more margarita. With all the food I had prepped, somehow I had managed to get only a solitary cupcake down my face before the movie because I was too busy cooking and then carving to eat…but of course I managed to drink just fine. I say this to explain to you why, a third of the way through the movie, I vaulted over the back of my chair, ran to the theater bathroom, and prepared to heave my way into next week. In my drunken foolishness, I didn’t even manage to lock the door, which Kirsti held shut behind me. A theater employee came in and asked if she needed to call a manager. For what? To hold my hair? Assist with a finger down the throat? Or did she mean call a manager to kick my drunk ass out of there? Either way, when I ran out of the theater, my intentions were to throw up, and then go lay down in the backseat of my car until the movie was over and someone could drive me home. Matt came out to check on us–he thought that I was simply too scared of the movie to continue watching it, and I WAS scared…but just at the idea of vomiting in public. He and Kirsti took me home and moved everyone’s pumpkins outside to indicate that the party train had rolled to a stop when they came back.
When everyone else DID end up coming back, I found out that Shannon and Em had also both dashed out of the theater at some point and hurled in adjacent stalls as part of a genuine bonding experience. It was around that time that I ran to MY bathroom and finally heaved, and while I was busy hogging it, Tristan heaved in my sink. At least it wasn’t JUST me playing the solitary weakling this time. Daniel apparently also popped once he got home. FIVE OF US. Good grief, that has to be some kind of record! Some other guests ended up taking Shannon home so she could care for her dog, Em passed out on my beanbag chair, and I blacked out on Jason’s lap and awoke the next morning, thoroughly embarrassed. But no, it wasn’t over yet.
Early the next morning, Emily thought that she had heard running water–she had heard it during the night as well, and assumed that I had gotten up to take a shower, but in the light of morning, she could see that I was still on the couch and the running water continued. She went to investigate and discovered that Tristan must vomit pure acid, as water and hurl was now leaking out of the bottom of my garbage disposal and all over everything I’d tossed under the sink in a fury of poor housekeeping. More embarrassment on my part while I moaned on the couch and Em cleaned it all out. She told me water was still coming out and my addled brain figured that could be construed as a problem with ‘flooding’, so I called emergency maintenance and asked them to come out. It was right around that moment that my hangover kicked in, complete with pounding headache, which was precisely when maintenance showed up and announced that my garbage disposal had been improperly installed and he’d never seen one so bad in his fifteen years of working maintenance. It was so bad, that he needed to remove it with a hammer. BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM. Right in tune with my head. BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM. I looked up, gave Em a wry grin and made a remark about how beautiful it was to be alive. Finally, the disposal was replaced, a lecture was given and received about the appropriate times to call emergency maintenance, Em sobered up and made her way home, and I groaned on the couch for a while longer and then made my way to the kitchen to clean up. I started running the dishwasher, and then I realized that it didn’t sound ‘right’.
…because it wasn’t draining. COME ON, UNIVERSE. Stop tossing me curve balls when I’m not prepared to deal with them! I have since learned that removing several inches of standing water with a turkey baster takes a stupid amount of time and also that despite the large capacity of 55 gallon garbage bags, I ought to have more than two set out for twelve carved pumpkins because they simply become too heavy to carry. I have ALSO learned that even though twenty people say they’re coming, it doesn’t mean that twenty people will show up and ALSO twenty people don’t eat nearly as much food as I think they will. Also, even with all of the booze consumption that happened, somehow I ended the day with still more booze than I started it with. I am NEVER going to get rid of the beer filling an entire shelf of my refrigerator, am I?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go lay down.