I don’t go out much, obviously. I write a blog post 5 days a week and have my social life at work all day. This was the party to end all parties!
For more than ten years my friend and “hair doctor”, Jen, has held an annual Halloween Party. Halloween is her holiday and she plans a year in advance. It isn’t just a costume party, it’s a themed event. Center pieces are crafted, invitations are hand-made, her costume rivals most Broadway Show’s attire and she saves and builds on it over the 12 months before it occurs. A hall is rented, the guest list is huge and she pays for the whole thing. This year she scaled back in some ways and opted for a Murder Mystery Dinner.
I am ashamed to say, though I am always invited and later marveled at her photos of past year’s parties, I have never attended. When I received my invitation for this year’s gala, I knew I had to go.
The invitation itself was a carefully crafted 3-dimensional coffin with each guests’ initials. Inside was a card that introduced my character and the rules of the game, including a link to the website which gave more detail about the other players. Nestled in the bottom was a mask, appropriately color-coordinated to my name – Wolfe Indigo.
I have no idea how much time and loving care she put into these. They were decorated inside, outside and even on the back.
The key was to stay in character and play. Though some showed up with nothing more than a nod to their assigned roles – perhaps a t-shirt of the same color as their mask to indicate their last name – others had outdone themselves with costumes, props and elegantly decorated masks.
Jen had chosen a restaurant and menu to match the theme. We had a private room that included a fire-place façade, a long dining table replete with black candelabras and dim lighting. The preparation that went into the “game” was elaborate with place cards and clues arranged along the dining table.
As in the game “CLUE,” each guest’s last name was a color. Jen was the mayor, Riley White. I was assigned the role of the butler to Reese Cerulean, a local entrepeneur with shady dealings. The most tongue-in-cheek was Logan Pewter, the founder of Geek Squad Computer Company who had access to everyone’s computer in town.
Mayor Riley White
My boss, Reese Cerulean.
Jen is a genius at bringing together a group of disparate people. Everyone knew enough other folks to be comfortable, but she was the only one who knew everyone, she was the tie. Clue cards were at each place setting, two other sets of “Clues” were revealed throughout the evening. It was tempting at times to turn to a guest and ask about their kids or news since you had last seen them, or if they were unknown to you, to want to ask how they knew Jen. It was equally fun to get them to give up their clues and try to show your own to them in a way that would weave the story. Lying or embellishing your clues was forbidden. The more we played, the better we all became at forgetting about anything but the game.
The menu began with a baked brie in Philo dough with raisins, nuts and berries. The soup was a butternut squash bisque with cinnamon toasted croutons. We had been snacking on the croutons with the brie and welcomed the soup. Huge bowls of fresh, leafy salad appeared, dressed with cold beets, crunchy candied nuts, crisp red onion and just enough vinaigrette. The main course was creamy mashed potatoes, sautéed carrots and roast pork with stuffing. An apple compote for drizzling over the pork completed the feast. Though later in the evening, apple crisp was served, I had no room left to eat.
My boss, Cerulean, sported one of those fetching accessories from the early 1960s – a scart of foxes chasing each other around her shoulders and biting each other’s tails; complete with glass eyes and dangling toe nails. I suspect like myself, many children of the 1950s had nightmares of their mothers being ripped apart by this abomination should it come back to life.
Of course someone had to die and then the race was on to solve the mystery.
The coroner’s report was a help as we all dug for clues and tried to piece together timing and events. In the end, only one guest guessed correctly.
Well played by all!