Google Something Clever 2.0: My Halloween/Sandy Saga

Oct 31, 2012

My Halloween/Sandy Saga

What a mess these last few days have been. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Halloween is like my birthday, Christmas and the Oscars rolled into one. This year, I may have taken on a little too much.

Our good friends throw an annual Halloween party (my favorite event of the year) which means I have to come up with costumes for my husband and myself. When I say “costumes,” I don’t mean buying a slutty cop uniform and a prefab Spiderman getup; I mean putting together complete outfits consisting of real clothes, and Hollywood-worthy SFX makeup. There is a contest every year and I will not accept defeat. I did slack a little this year, though, and bought a dress. The hosts have three young kids now, so they can’t decorate until the night before (after bed time), which means they need help. And they are on the same scale as me when it comes to Halloween, so that means about 10 giant plastic totes of gravestones, strobe lights, and 15-foot tall monsters all over their house. It’s a process.

Then there’s the boy’s costume, which I take just as seriously as the grownup costumes. He has chosen (all on his own) to be Anubis, so that’s no small task to fabricate. And I only have a couple hours a week to work on it, since I can’t really work when he’s awake or when my husband is home (unless the football game is on). We’re also hosting a Halloween party for the kids this weekend- 12 kids, from 6 months to 5 years. We’ve barely prepared for that, because we figured I could buy most of the stuff on clearance the day after Halloween. But I have no excuse for the fact that we still have no menu or playlist (um, yes, there will be a dance contest).

A little preview
This is our first year in a real house, as opposed to a townhouse or condo, so we went nuts on the decorations. I mean nuts. It’s embarrassing how much time and money went into it. We had the front yard all decked out already (and we live on the corner, so it’s basically two front yards) and we planned to have a zombie graveyard in the back for the trick-or-treaters to walk through. I’m talking fog, lights, music, animatronics… Yeah, planned. Past tense. Because we live in Massachusetts, and that bitch Sandy, or that asshole Frankenstorm, whichever you prefer, has blown in to ruin everything. Let me tell you about the past few days.

On Friday morning, my husband woke up convinced that we needed to buy a generator. If you didn’t know, last Halloween in Massachusetts was ruined by a freak snow and ice storm, and some people (including us) lost power for days. I think it was four or five. It was a nightmare. The worst part was that we had just done some serious grocery shopping and lost two or three hundred dollars’ worth of food. We’ve been at our new house since March, and we’d already lost power four times during really minor rainstorms. And my husband is a Debbie Downer, so he is absolutely positive that the shit’s going down. Now, he’s the one who taught me that weather forecasts are useless if they’re more than a few days in advance (which he learned from his meteorologist cousin), but repeating that back to him was pointless. He’d been on the fence about it for a few days, and by Friday, he’d talked himself into it.

We called around to various stores, but generators are hard to find in October. Now, there are basically two tiers of portable generators: expensive, and HOLY SHIT! expensive. Nobody had any, but a few stores said they were expecting “emergency shipments” over the weekend. They couldn’t tell us which ones they were getting. Of course. He tried one mom-and-pop hardware store that also rented generators by the day, and when he asked the price, the clerk prefaced his answer with, “Well, in times like these…” Asshole! I mean, it’s one thing to screw your customers in times of need, but to openly announce it?!

Friday night was my second-favorite even of the year. A friend of mine has a birthday in late October and we always sing Karaoke at a local Chinese restaurant. It’s right around the corner from the party (which is on Saturday), so I stopped there for two or three hours to decorate. Then I’m off to sing. There was an awkward moment when my friend and I thought it would be fun to duet on “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue. We hadn’t heard the song in 20 years, and had forgotten that the lyrics are basically “I’m a black woman” over and over. And we are white. So, oops. When I got home, I had just finished brushing my teeth when the power went out for no reason whatsoever. That pretty much convinced me that a generator was not such a silly investment.

My husband went out at 5:00 the next morning to buy a generator at a Home Depot two towns over. When he showed up, it was already a zoo. They were handing out tickets and ringing people up before they even unloaded the truck. Remember when I mentioned the two different price points for generators? Guess which ones they had. Yeah. So he comes home with… um… something that cost about the same amount that I spent on Halloween. I guess I can’t really complain, huh?

The bright side to getting the more expensive generator is that rather than just plugging in the refrigerator and maybe the TV, it can power everything. Our friend is an electrician, and he says he can wire the fuse box so that we can just plug the whole damn house into the generator. That’s a lot better than having a bunch of extension cords running out the window. I email my landlord to ask if that’s okay with him, and he says sure.

It’s party day, and normally, I get to sleep in on Saturday mornings (he gets Sundays), but I had to get up at 7:00 since he was still at Home Depot when the boy woke up. I got a little nap, but I’m still exhausted. I realized that we were out of red food coloring, which we needed to make fake blood (you mix it with corn syrup, did you know this?) and I need a slip because my crappy prefab dress is see-through. So I head out for the food coloring, slip, and some Red Bull. Marshall’s does not have any slips. I went to the grocery store next door (which I hate), and I can’t find any food coloring or Red Bull (it’s a really shitty store).

So I go to Target. It’s three hours until the party. It turns out they don’t make slips anymore, apparently. They only make those Spanx things, and Spanx knockoffs which are just as uncomfortable, but cost half the price. I grab some Red Bull. I go to the baking-supply aisle and all they have is pastel food coloring! What the hell?! I’m in line, freaking out, when I hear someone call my name. Birthday boy from last night is there. He asks me “How’s it going” or whatever, and I yell “I can’t find any food coloring!” because I’m not a pleasant person when I’m stressed out. He lives literally two minutes from Target, and he tells me to go to his house and get some from his wife. Hooray! I go, she gives me the food coloring, and her dog is moaning and crying the whole time I’m there. She says the dog gets that way during thunderstorms. Frankenstorm is still two days away at this point. So that kind of freaks me out.

Ta da!
I get home and wrestle with the knockoff Spanx slip for 15 minutes. I was very sweaty and angry by the end. I do my makeup. Our friend arrives and I add a black eye and a bruised nose to complete his Walter White costume. My husband orders my favorite pizza, which I can’t eat, because I have a prosthetic glued over 2/3 of my mouth. I had a Slim-Fast (through a straw) for dinner. Yum. I do my husband’s makeup. My mother-in-law arrives to watch the boy, who is up 15 minutes past his bedtime and claiming that he’s hungry. The cab arrives and we go to the party.

The party was fantastic, as always. I forgot my bingo card, but took mental notes. Lots of cool costumes. Saw a friend who moved away years ago and happened to be visiting his parents that weekend, so he attended, awesome. We won best couple costume, super awesome. I got just the right amount of drunk, extra-super-awesomesauce. Played Rock Band with Mario, Princess Peach, and a man dressed as Hello Kitty. We kicked ass, even though me and Kitty are drunk (not sure about Peach and Mario). I scored 100% on Expert. Fuckin’ A.

We got home at 4:00 or 5:00. Gross. We had to be at a family brunch at 11:30 because some distant relative named Sandy (I swear) was in town. We got there around 12:45. Not ideal, but it would have been worse if we were on time but unshowered. It’s been raining lightly all day. I ate that pizza I couldn’t have the night before for lunch and dinner. Uneventful day.

Monday. The stupid Nor’caner is supposed to arrive at noon. Right now, it’s still a light rain and moderately windy. My husband woke up two hours early because he was tossing and turning about the generator. He opens it up and puts the wheels on it. He tells me I should familiarize myself with the instruction manual, since his employer has chosen money over safety and he is still required to go in today. Page One states: “Do NOT operate in the rain.” Um, what?! Correct me if I’m wrong, but in 99% of cases, aren’t people using a portable generator because they lost power during a storm? What the hell? He is freaking out. I call Home Depot. I tell the customer service lady what I just read. She is shocked. Before I can ask her if they’ll accept a return on an open and assembled product, she transfers me to whatever the hell department it is that sells generators. I repeat my story. The guy says, “Yeah, well, most people put it in a garage or a shed.” There are explicit instructions on every page of the manual (as well as stickers all over the generator itself) stating that you should never use it indoors, even in a garage, even with the door open, because you will die of carbon monoxide poisoning. I ask him if there are any generators that you can use in the rain. He says A) No and B) They don’t have any left, anyway. I ask if they’ll take it back. He says yes, but I have to come before 1:00 and ask for him. I’ve worked in retail, and I’m guessing he has no idea what the return policy is, and has no authority to override it.
The fort

We have a deck. We decide that the boy and I will go to the store and get supplies to make a little fort under it for the generator. We go out at 10:00 and get some tarps and bungee cords. I finagle a little area under the stairs where I hope the rain won’t get in, but the carbon monoxide can get out.  I fill the Brita dispenser and the bathtub. I feed the boy lunch. I feel like I’m owning this hurricane. The boy goes down for his nap around 2:30 and I discover that the fort is failing. I rearrange the bungees. My husband calls to tell me that they’re letting everyone go home. He gets home at 3:00 and sees that the fort has failed again. I would be useless in a zombie apocalypse. The rain and wind are getting really bad now. We find some cinder blocks under the deck (what are the odds?) and use them to weigh down the tarps. The fort is now kicking ass… And so is Frankenstorm.

At this point, I should mention that the inside of my jacket is covered in sticky fake blood from Saturday night, so I can only wear a hoodie outside. My jeans are soaked and covered in mud from working on my fort, so I have to keep changing from dry jeans to wet jeans every time I go outside to adjust it. I probably changed eight times. The rain lets up briefly. Our electrician friend also had to work today (man, am I glad that I stay at home), so he arrives around 7:30, just in time for the really heavy rain to return. That sucks. I deal with the boy while my husband and our friend do man stuff in the basement and the yard for two hours. The power goes out twice, for about 5 seconds each time.

The boys finish setting up the generator. They are soaked to the bone and reek of gasoline. My husband suspects he has a sprained ankle, but isn’t sure how it happened. Our friend goes home. My husband and I watch a TV show, then he goes to bed. I stay up late writing. By midnight, the rain has stopped. Of course we aren’t going to need the generator, after all. But you know if they hadn’t spent all that time setting it up, we would have needed it.

Tuesday morning started with a light rain that ended around 10:00 or 11:00. There are sticks everywhere, but that’s it. I’m off to reassemble the decorations! I'll post pics of our graveyard and the boy's costume on my Facebook page tonight if you're interested.