The city is San Antonio. The state is Texas. Everybody knows things happen BIG in Texas, planned or not. It was here when I proposed to The Specialist husband the idea of a Halloween party. Did I think I could host such a party at a military-owned, historic, two-story house with white pillars and a wrap-around porch that was originally housing for generals? Not to mention, the Military Police Headquarters is within rock-throwing distance. The Specialist suggested our few friends could come over for some punch and some snacks. Okay.
HA! Remember that year in October when a strange phenomenon lit up the Southern portion of the United States like an atomic bomb? Well that was the happy reaction from the people we invited. My goodness, what had these soldiers and military families been waiting for to throw their own party? Me, I guess. Maybe it was my youthful naïve demeanor, having been a military wife for only a couple of years straight out of high school, that appealed to the naughty and the nice. Plus, we were new in town. We didn’t know enough people to make a difference.
Immediately after handing out invitations, I planned the decorations, food, games, and prizes. Adult soldiers dressing in costumes – mandatory – wasn’t going to happen on an Army base said The Specialist. I turned my attention back to the details. The house, on a corner lot, needed to stand out. Easy. A huge plastic pumpkin stuffed with newspaper and bricks was placed on each street near the house. The cobwebs, white cotton stretchy stuff, stuck to the screened porch like glue. It was an incredible sight. Inside, our daughter made gobs of confetti from black, orange, and white construction paper. She was elated to throw confetti throughout the house. Witches, goblins, home-made ghosts, lanterns, and other spooky decorations were everywhere, hanging outside of windows, and lining the porch.
The food consisted of pumpkin pies, sandwiches in Halloween shapes, orange dips, black dips, black olives, orange (cheese) chips, and a medley of other goodies. Oh, and I didn’t buy any hard liquor, just some beer. I bought cases of beer. I opened every can. Pop! Fizz. Pour. The guests would quench their drink appetite when bobbing for apples in beer from the antique laundry tub on the back porch! Gulping beer and trying to bite into an apple is a difficult task that somehow requires multiple chances to get it right. One soldier held an apple in his teeth on the side of his mouth. While we thought he was cheating by using his hand to grab the apple, he was actually scooping in more beer.
The costumes ranged from ballerinas, to sports fans, to creepy monsters. We couldn’t decide the best costume, so we handed out the gift certificate and twenty dollars cash. It took the sight of all his guests for The Specialist to find a costume at the last minute, which turned out to be a pair of hospital scrubs. For months afterwards, people recalled episodes of pinning the stem on the pumpkin, hitting the ghost piñata, juggling gourds, and pumpkin racing on the porch. You know it’s a good time when adults show up to a house party without an invitation, wearing a costume, and politely ask for permission to come in. But that’s the way it was that Halloween in Military City, U.S.A.