When we first moved to town, we were invited upstreet to a Halloween party at an old inn. A couple of things were instantly apparent.
First, we were the only couple in costume. As we entered the gracious, old abode we noticed an almost immediate hush amongs our hosts and the other guests. It was impossible to miss the fact that everyone seemed to be clued into a dress code about which we had not been informed. Apparently, semi-formal wear was called for. Our Halloween costumes begged the question, “Are you in the right place?”
Standing in the doorway in my Holstein cow costume, complete with rubber udder, next to my husband — looking dashing in his Superman outfit — we looked like a bargain-basement exotic dance act gone terribly wrong. Especially when the foyer of the inn looked like a Brooks Brothers catalogue shoot.
Which leads me to our second surprise: I was the only woman present.
On top of this, we had brought a warm bottle of white Zinfandel to a Moët et Chandon party. (My husband still can’t understand why this was an issue; but again, he would see nothing wrong with bringing Cheez Whiz to a Wine & Cheese party. In fact, he’d prefer it to the brie.)
We did not want to add to the awkwardness of the situation by excusing ourselves. We were worried that our new neighbors might interpret our discomfort as being caused by the fact that we were the only heterosexual couple there and not the fact that we were dressed like freaks.
Our hosts, in turn, did not want to make us feel out of place, so they pointedly did not mention our costumes. With each introduction, I would repeat my little joke about wanting to make a lasting impression and endure another overly-earnest expression and polite dismissal — as though nobody would have noticed a thing if I had not brought it up! We were given a grand tour of the inn and our fellow guests could not have been more welcoming.
Nonetheless, it was a relief to finally leave and take off our ridiculous threads. To this day, we will occasionally run into someone who remembers us from that night. Just last week, at a craft fair, I felt someone’s eyes and turned to look. There was a well-dressed, handsome man whom I had no memory of ever meeting. Instantly, he extended his hand. Leaning toward me, he said, “We met at Conrad’s party I could never forget you in that rubber udder and your husband in Spandex.” Ah. I could have happily forgotten about it, years ago. Fortunately, the man’s eyes crinkled into a smile and we were both able to laugh aloud at the memory.
This party is still used as a running excuse for my husband, whose idea of a big time is to fight sleep on the couch with a sports game on TV and a bag of popcorn. “Remember that Halloween party you dragged us to a few years ago? (It was 1986.) Do you really think we’ll have a better time than we could have at home?”
Pass the Cheez Whiz, please.
Kristin Anderson has returned to her Groton roots after spending the last two decades in Vermont. She wrote for the Caledonian-Record in St. Johnsbury and later taught high school humanities and college history while raising three children — along with her husband, Mike — on their small Vermont farm “in the shadow of Owl’s Head Mountain, by the shores of Lake Memphremagog.” She is passionate about history, poetry, music, horses, and most of all her family, but lacks cooking skills. Anderson makes up for it with talents for snacking and chatting.