Back when I was in college, there tended to be pub nights for damn near anything.  Seriously.  Is there a “Y” in the day?  Let’s have a pub night!

But one of the biggest ones was always the Halloween pub night.  Not only could you get bombed, but you could dress up to do it.

Which makes me stop and wonder, all these years later…why exactly did I go to pub nights?  I’ve never drank.  I’m a terrible dancer.  And I’m pathetic when it comes to picking up women.  I guess it was just to hang with my friends.  And watch them drink, dance and pick up women.

Kinda dumb, but hey, that’s what college is for right?  To get ya some learnin’.

Anyway, one year, our class was bussed into Toronto, an hour away, for the entire day on the day of the pub.  So, normally, I could have skipped out of class or even brainstormed with the class on what to do for a costume.  Not this time.  We were kept busy all day, so it wasn’t until the bus ride home that I started to seriously think about it.

What I came up with was going as a dead guy.  Whiten the face, maybe spike the hair…

Only, on the way back from the college to home, I hit every place I could think of and no one had anything I could use to paint my face.  I picked up a couple of vials of fake blood, just in case and rushed home.

Don’t forget, this was the 80s, when it was a little harder to get decent make up and effects.  Especially on the Friday before Halloween.

Long story short, a friend mentioned that he remembered something about his mom using a corn starch/syrup mixture when he was little.  Okay, I’ll give it a shot.  I’ve now got maybe 90 minutes before the pub.

I stole my mother’s (yes, this was first year, so I was still living with ma) corn starch and a new bottle of pure maple syrup.  Had I known how expensive pure maple syrup was, I likely would have called it off.  But ignorance is bliss.

I mixed the two ingredients in a bowl, but no matter how much corn starch I used, I never got it to a “pasty” consistency.

In desperation, I scooped about three fingers’ worth and slopped it on my cheek.  And that’s when I knew I’d hit on something.

The mixture was very very close to my own skin tone.  But it dripped very slowly.  It looked like my flesh was melting off my face.

Seriously.  How cool is that?

So, I left the mixture, grabbed a couple of garbage bags, linked them together at the open ends, stole one of my mom’s long zippers, taped that to a long cut I put in the one end, broke out some arm holes and leg holes, and with some masking tape, wrote “CITY MORGUE” on the back.  Voila!  Instant body bag.

Then I wet my hair, stole every hair styling product in the bathroom (in case you’re wondering, no, mom wasn’t there for any of it, or I would have gotten in total shit…even at the age I was at).  I laid on the bed, hung my head upside down, put in damn near a full tube of gel, hairsprayed the crap out of it, then took the blow dryer to my hair.  The end result was better than expected, but basically I had the world’s tallest free-standing hair structure.

Then I stripped down to a pair of shorts I’d bought in Florida, went back into the bathroom and covered my face, neck, upper chest and arms with the goo.  Added some drops of fake blood at my temple and the corner of my mouth and climbing into my makeshift body bag, I was good to go.

Now the real test.  What’s the reaction at the pub.

I got to the car and drove the few miles to the Polish Hall in north Oshawa where the pub was.  It was October, so being dressed only in a pair of shorts and two black garbage bags, I was freezing.  And the goo suspended any motion and tightened to my face.  I had to duck down in the car a bit so as not to break off the tips of my hair.

But I got there.  Walked in.  There was a decent crowd already.  I went over to the bar and got a Coke.  The girl serving looked like she was going to puke.  She scrunched up her whole face.  “What’s that on your face?” she asked.

“This is my face,” I said.

I found I had to use a straw to drink.  Otherwise the cup tended to stick to my mouth.

As the night wore on, I got to gross everyone out.  I made a habit of just walking across the dance floor to see the reactions.  They never disappointed. And as it got warmer and warmer, the goo dripped more and more.  It got so there were long dangling drips hanging from my nose and chin.

One of the best reactions I got was a girl coming up to me–which, in and of itself, never happened…ever–and, getting right up close to me, like, inches from my face, pointed to a particularly long dangler at the end of my nose.

“Ohmigod, like, what IS that?” she asked.

I very nonchalantly reached up, picked off the dangler, popped it in my mouth, made like I was chewing, then swallowed.  “It’s my flesh,” I said in a cheerful voice.

She literally slapped her palm over her mouth as though to hold in the vomit, turned and ran away from me.

Later in the evening, they were giving out the awards for best costumes.  You know, the best one, the sexiest one, best couple, etc.

Well, one of the awards was for the grossest costume.  As they called up the nominees, I looked at my drunken friends and asked them how many had nominated me.  They all stared back bleerily with lopsided grins.

Yeah.  Not one of them.

So, I wasn’t nominated.  They called three guys up to the stage and all three costumes sucked.  I wasn’t going to stand for this.

The winner was chosen by how loud the crowd responded when each was pointed to.

I got up, walked to the stage as they pointed to the first guy.  “…yay…” was his lackluster crowd response.  The second guy got a more audible yay with some whistles and foot stomps.  The third guy got a barely audible response.

Then I hopped up on the stage and before anyone could kick me off, turned to the crowd and yelled, “What about me?”

The crowd went nuts.  They screamed, they clapped, they stomped, they catcalled…

They guy with the envelope for the winner, who, at this point was just about to hand it to the second guy, looked at me, looked at the guy…and the second guy actually shrugged and pointed to me.  So the dude with the envelope walked over and gave it to me.  It was some sort of gift certificates.  I remember being pleased with them.

And the crowd was still going nuts.

So, that was fun.

What was not so much fun was getting home at the end of the night and unpeeling the garbage bag from my upper body that had become cemented to my skin with the starch/syrup mixture.  I tried for a few seconds, then decided, screw this, and tore off the bottom half, got in the shower and dissolved the mixture away, then pulled the garbage bag off.

All in all, a good night.  And in case you’re wondering, no I didn’t dance once and didn’t pick up any women.

I know.  I’m still shocked about it too.


10 thoughts on “Halloween

  1. I don’t want this to go to your head or anything, but when did you go from being an “unpopular chick-turnoff “to the handsome, easy-going “chick-magnet” you are today? After you were married? Do we have your wife to thank?

    Kidding aside, good story about being a geek and creep at Halloween. Loved the image of your buddies when you asked if they’d nominated you.

    • Sorry Mary, for the most part I’m still the unpopular chick turn-off. That never really changed. I just got contacts and gained enough weight that you could no longer spit through me…at least not as easily.

      Seriously, if I had to ask a girl out on a date today, I’d be dying.

  2. OMG!!! I remember that! I didn’t go that night but I remember seeing your costume! Thanks for the memory – too funny! I think my mom said – Ach, Tobin! – in her Scottish drawl as your skin dripped onto your chest…

    • Yeah, I recreated it for a convention or something. And it was Allan that had told me about the corn starch/syrup thing. He’d heard it from Steve.

      And I seem to remember your mom saying that too. But I also remember the combo look of disgust and amusement on her face. God she must have wondered about us back then…

  3. That is hysterical! I love that the girl came up to your face and you peeled that stuff off and put it in your mouth. Good for you for jumping on the stage. A costume like that can’t be overlooked. You deserve those gift certificates or whatever they were! How could you pick up a girl in that outfit? Try to kiss her and she would have stuck to your face. I wish you had photos. This needs documentation.

  4. Yup, mom did wonder about us all – more about you though! Lol!! Yes, I remember that look on her face and my dad I think just shook his head and walked away…

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