Edith’s Halloween Party


Suncoast Retirement Center was gearing up for Halloween. Orange and black crepe paper started to appear, skulls full of candy rested in the lobby, wax teeth and bulging eyeballs decorated the dinner tables.

Being that Edith loved to party, this was one of her favorite times of year.  She put a good deal of effort into thinking about her costume.

While walking around the grounds, Edith pondered what people or events she could draw from for inspiration. Sarah Palin was done, Martha Stewart too, and even Eleanor Roosevelt was used up. She thought about 73 year old Jane Fonda and realized there was no way she could have enough surgery in time to pull that off. How about reclusive Doris Day? How about being Clint Eastwood with his chair?

Deeply unfocused and “away” from her surroundings, Edith was surprised when Hazel was almost upon her.

Oh God. She has that damn dog. She thinks that bitch is so infernally gorgeous. Keep it away from me! That mangy odious creature!

“Oh, hello Hazel. I see you have Oodles with you today.”

“Yes. My daughter let me have her while she is running errands.”

Oodles was sniffing Edith’s crotch from behind and moving around for a frontal assault. Edith was nudging the dog away to no avail.

“Oodles. Stop doing that!” snapped Hazel.

The dog kept sniffing and looked like she was going to lift a leg on Edith’s ankle next.

Edith, keenly aware of dog behavior, said “Oh, Hazel, look at that colorful hibiscus over there!” then gave the dog a kick to the ribs.

Oodles, being familiar with these jabs, cowered, whimpered, and retreated while giving Edith a hateful glare.

“Well, Hazel, nice seeing you. I won’t keep you and your pup from your routine.”

Beautiful dog, my ass. Getting ready to pee on my leg! She should be called Puddles instead. What do people see in dogs anyway?

By the time Edith returned to her apartment, she had several ideas for a costume. All she had to do was scrounge around in her closet to see what worked.

The days passed leading up to the party. This year it was going to be in the “ballroom” euphemistically called that because it was the large community room on the top floor. Certainly none of these seniors had seen a ball of any kind in many years. Edith knew it simply as room 436.

One of the festive aspects of the late afternoon event was that there would be a cocktail hour. Alcohol was rare at Suncoast because so many people had illnesses that prevented imbibing. Not Edith. Aside from her glaucoma, high blood pressure, and arthritis, she could eat and drink whatever she wanted. And she did. In fact, her doctor told her to have wine. And she did.

So while Edith was dressing, she started sipping on her supply of pinot noir.

She had chosen her clothes and put them in a staging area in the living room. Dick, her ever present “man friend,” didn’t pay much attention to these fashion efforts, so when Edith consulted him, he merely said, “Looks fine.” Big help he was.

Edith put out a tailored tartan plaid skirt of knee length and a flowered cowboy type shirt that snapped up the front. She had a chosen a nice pair of patent leather pumps. She’d forgotten what colors they were and it had been a long time since she had worn these clothes but they all still fit. Luckily, no one much cared about mismatched shoes or putting plaids with stripes. Many Suncoast residents were just glad to get their pants pulled up and zipped. Still, Edith was pleased with her professional office look.

By the time she teetered into the party room, she was feeling mildly happy. Despite the lack of live music (the drummer of the Suncoast band, sixth in a row, had kicked the bucket yesterday), she thought the recorded music and lighting was suitably spooky. She glanced around to look for Dick who decided to come as Mick Jagger. Being that both men were old, shriveled up, and skinny, Edith thought it was a good choice.

She made a beeline to Dick.  Edith, slightly tipsy and vision modified, was completely oblivious to Harry in his wheelchair. She hit the handle of Harry’s chair; it spun around, did a wheelie and completely overturned. Poor Harry was sprawled on the floor with his legs splayed giving everyone a nice view of his pantaloons under his antebellum-hooped skirt. Harry, like a dying bug, had his arms and legs waving about while Edith sailed across the room to admire Dick’s chains and leather.

Finally, the staff got Harry back in his (by now) up righted chair, adjusted his skirt and bonnet, and stood giving Edith reproving glares while she and Dick stood around the wine table sipping.

Now the time came for the judging of costumes. There were a couple of Dolly Partons- some people came in that get up every year. One man came in a really badly made up Obama, another came as Justice Scalia, still another as Susan Boyle, and there were the assorted bowlers, Dolphins costumes, and even a Wayne Newton. Considering the number of women dressed as men, it would be no shock that Sun Coast could be mistaken for a home for aging transvestites.

Then came the big surprise.  Mr. Gallucci was dressed as Warren Buffet. Actually, he even looked like him without costume. But Edith wasn’t amused. Mr. Gallucci stole her thunder. He had taken away her spotlight. He had sucked the wind out of her sails. She huffed, she puffed, she stewed, she sputtered. Her fuse was lit and she was ready to explode.

Unable to be silent and let the moment pass, she rushed up to the microphone, grabbed it away from Ms. Smith, who stood back mortified and fearful.

“YOU!” Edith yelled. “You Billionaire Bully. You Money Bag Mogul. You Underpaying ….” By now, Ms. Smith had recovered the mike and Dick, finally realizing that Edith was completely looped, rushed forward to save her more embarrassment.

You see, Edith was dressed as the overtaxed, horribly dressed, and underpaid secretary of Warren Buffet.  She had done her research; she knew the famous quote about the secretary paying more taxes the Buffet did. But all that was forgotten when someone upstaged her. All she felt was anger. Her one big day! Her clever effort! Her shame and humiliation!

The real thing

She hid in the corner and waited for friends to come and console her. She watched petulantly as Gallucci won the prize for best costume.  But she accepted with a tearful smile when she got second place.

She and Gallucci stood there with hands raised and with triumphant smiles as photos were taken.

At least she would be up on the photo wall again this year. They like me. They really like me!”

Edith, in a very Sally Field style, refilled her wine glass and headed down to dinner. There’s always next year.