EDITORIAL ADDENDUM: For the socially meek or culturally irrelevant, this is about as close as you’re ever going to come to that stirring misery of waking up in a puddle of your own vomit, or clove-hitched in the sheets of some girl whose name you just can’t remember… or might not have known to begin with.
Yes. The stain left on one’s character after writing some particularly inane, insomnia-fueled blog posts is no laughing matter; the guilt-soaked hangover which ensues upon having re-read some particularly pointless article (Which, at the time, seemed like finger-spun gold) demands a pound of flesh, and an equally swift atonement.
In as much, I feel compelled to get back on the heels of my previous claim about waiting to follow through with the dirtier details of our Manresa Castle adventures, and will—for the sake of brevity—instead drag this son of a bitch out over the hot coals of yet another macabre little postcard from the wastes of Port Townsend…
officially: despookery iii
As it happens, Halloween takes on a decidedly ugly fade once you pass over the threshold of age twenty-five. No holiday exposes the American character as ruthlessly as October 31st; it turns an entire population into shut-ins, concrete-surfing sluts of varying denominations, and celebrates the basest urges of a culture that’s turned narcissism into a religious pastime*.
For the childless and misanthropic, the last good Halloween typically clocks in around at the mid-twenties. True to say that a college celebration of said holiday hardly qualifies as being considered in the same thrill-basket as the pavement-pounding sugar-shockery of one’s childhood, but there’s still a certain kind of allure to the drunken stupidity that consumes every self-respecting campus in the Unied States around the flipping of the fall calendar. Even if your observation of the holiday goes as far as pulling some mailed-in bullshit (the post-it note nametag and tinfoil/cardboard box robot were institutions at Floptown University), you’re still actively plugged into the electric collective, and don’t lack for some sense of what the fuck to do with your evening.
In the wake of that, however? Your options pretty much consist of sloughing around family events and in the living rooms of friends who have children, free to soak in an awkward evening of cheap smiles from strangers and hem-haw explanations about how—and this is a bit of a crib-note version of the usual monologue, so bear with—“(you,) (yourself) don’t have kids, but (such) and (such) are friends from way back, so (you) figured (you’d) stop by, because it’s Halloween, and who has anything to do on Halloween when (you) don’t have kids, and…”
Around and around. Your tongue will eventually curl inward on itself, and you’ll wind up quietly making some excuse to the hosts in the kitchen about “having somewhere else to go,” even though you and I and they all know it’s a total plastering of your own ass, in some weak effort to save face and act like this wasn’t an entirely bad idea…
So, you’re basically screwed. Especially if you happen to have some mildly sociopathic predisposition towards using your adult-sized means to honor a holiday whose peak appeal tapers off at around age twelve. You know those types; the ones that hand-craft their costumes, spend months discussing the over-under on whether or not anybody is going to recognize the ensemble, and booking accommodations at some resort-slash-retreat for equally weird adults somewhere around April… or, in other words:
To address the obvious questions: no, Jynx and I aren’t ye olde faire folk or con-twats. We’re simply a pair of spades with scattered craft talents, who typically have too much time on our hands and—as you’ve probably noted—the collective attention spans of a two-head kangaroo rat. As such, Halloween is both a blessing (a gold-plated excuse to allow our braided freak flags to flap proudly in public), and a curse (the numbing realization that said possibilities for flag-flappage are relegated to Pioneer Square bars, cheeseball antics at on the carnie circuit shit in Snohomish, or the previously-mentioned creep session at the relatives’ houses). Truth be told, we hadn’t actually done anything of note for Halloween for a good two or three years prior to the happenstance of 2K11, when it dawned on us that there was a perfectly good place to kick up our costumed heels within a couple of smokes’ driving distance…
(Insert failed effort at building suspense here)
Oh, yes. Manresa Castle. We actually made the reservations on a whim, a wing and a prayer in late July, having no clue as to whether or not we were actually going to be able to afford a night’s stay in the allegedly haunted digs of old Kate Eisenbeis; it turns out that Manresa’s masquerade festivities are the hottest ticket on that corner of the Olympic Peninsula, and—as such—the ghost-having digs command a premium price. Nevertheless, we socked away a few extra sheckels, and convinced Exene to fly up for the occasion, for the purpose of completing our Victorian family aesthetic…
This was all Jynx’s doing, by the way. I can’t even feign something as awesome as taking the original notion of dressing my nearly-thirty-year-old sister up as a hoop-and-stick lad and improving vastly on it by transforming the costume into a pet monkey.
Nor can I wax poetically about some outstanding powers of persuasion in actually getting Exene to wear this goddamned thing. She did so of her own accord, and was—over the course of the evening’s festivities—hit on by a keg-gut guy in a gorilla mask and the punchy love child of Count Orlock and the Hindenberg. It takes a certain degree of commitment to see a role through, even in the face of that kind of tipsy and tainted public adoration.
However. Lest those smug-ly insults come off as being legitimate gripes, let me quickly follow up with this: the crowd at Manresa’s masquerade affair is probably the best goddamned mishmash of misanthropes, stumble-drunk skanks and genuinely gassed Halloween thrill-seekers in the grand state of Washington. The overall character of the event is a lot like a Jimmy Buffet concert held in the mouth of some county-fair ride version of Hell; there’s a drink in every hand, a constant thrum of live music encouraging two or three people to awkwardly bump into one another in a happy/shameful fugue on the otherwise-naked dance floor, and a general sense that anything and everything is all good, as far as the standards of the occasion are concerned. Even the Bremerton townies who make the trip are in good spirits, and a “Snow White” in a slut-cut top is every bit as likely to get her bar tab covered as a fifty-something gal dressed up as a Wal-Mart cashier.
As inherently pathetic as it is to cite one’s self, I think that this update—sent to our mother, when pressed about the outcome of the Masquerade Ball’s costume contest—actually sums up the texture of the crowd and the generally freeball vibe fairly well:
I would have been good with losing to either of the finalists, actually. Aside from “The Stuck Up Bitch (with the Legitimately Broken Neck”) and her “Chickenshit Husband”–who was wearing a stuffed chicken on his head–we were up against the most adorable little old guy dressed as Einstein, and his wife, who looked like Robert Crumb’s rendering of a Naughty Nurse.
To brook any questions about the phrasing used: the bitch in mention actually did have a broken neck (apparently from a car accident a few days earlier), and has her stability collar sort of seated neatly atop some gun-moll/Florida mom clubber ensemble. It is fair to say that it wasn’t much of a costume, but it’s also fair to say that nobody gave a shit, and that her winning the grand prize was as much a crowd-pleaser as the circulation of free jello shots a few minutes earlier.
In the mellowing wake of the masquerade itself, the rest of Manresa is transformed into the world’s oldest dorm; guests leave their doors open and beckon passerby in for a nightcap, and the occasional nip of skunk weed or a few somber notes of the Eagles can be experienced while meandering around the sickly chartreuse hallways and their gaslight-style brackets. These last little pockets of resistance festivity finally taper off a few hours shy of dawn, which—coincidentally—was when Exene and I decided that it was time to get serious, breaking out both my iPhone’s ghost radar and the Official Ghost Hunters ™ EVP Detector, and trying to make contact with our friend Kate against the steady saw-log snoring of an exhausted Jynx…