by Nicole Crews

Scene: Epic Halloween blow-out at my apartment in the late ’90s; my mother shows up in a full-length mink with a sweeping sable collar and a More menthol dangling from her mouth.

Me: So who are you supposed to be?

Mother: You in 40 years.

Me: That’s a mighty big coat to fill. I think I’d look like more like Steven Seagal.

Mother: You’ve got a long time to grow into it, kid.

Eleven p.m. on Halloween and the bewitching hour has officially begun. I’ve got a crew of merry pranksters in tow and we’ve just left the civilized set in search of shenanigans on the shadier side of town. We are, in toto, Zelda Fitzgerald, a gargoyle, a German and a Divorced Dad — and I’m not sure who is scarier. We arrive at a favorite local dive to see a rangy, square-jawed dude with a denim beltline of Charlton Heston heights.

Me: Who are you supposed to be, Thom Tillis in mom jeans?

Dude: I’m “Forever in Blue Jeans.”

Me: Indeed you are — to your nipples.

It’s wall-to-wall monster madness and the freaks and geeks are testing the structural integrity of the bar as they press in line for diabolically-themed elixirs. There’s a human piñata accompanied by a bearded lady ­— the self-proclaimed winners of the costume contest. (There was no costume contest.) There are a lot of Day of the Dead-agains and more Frida Kahlos than the art department at UNCG could possibly educate. A few Kay Hagans emerge from their stumping ground and then there is my personal favorite: Lena Dunham molesting a doll. Interestingly, there are a significantly larger number of drag queens than usual.

Me: Hey, do you think the gay marriage legalization in North Carolina has something to do with that?

Drag Queen: Honey, we’re like unicorns. You can only see us if you believe.

It’s pushing midnight when I wrangle my way to the loo and I spot the best “Saturday Night Live” Drunk Girl costume ever. It’s bra-strap city, all hulking shoulders and burnout blonde ringlets gone awry — a veritable unzipped, plaid-skirt alert. She bumps into me linebacker-style as she blurts obscenities to a guy dressed as a cop who is pretending to be the bathroom police. I attempt to diffuse the tension with niceties.

Me: You nailed the smeared lipstick. That’s a really good costume.

Drunk Girl: What are you talking about? I just got off work.

Me: Where do you work — the Highland Games?

Drunk Girl: I would kick your ass, but that’s funny. And I’m drunk.

Time for a swift exit strategy, so we all pile into the devil wagon and head to another of Greensboro’s most venerable drinking establishments. When we arrive there’s a fishbowl labeled “Halloween Bucket List.” I can’t resist, so I reach in and pull out “Kiss a girl.”

Guy dressed as a monkey: Are you gonna do it?

Me: I don’t think it counts as ‘Bucket List’ if you’ve already done it.

Monkey Man: Aw, c’mon, you have to do it.

Me: You really need to evolve, dude.

There’s hip hop on the juke and you can hear the guttural rumblings of the blue-collar, classic-rock set that also frequent the joint. It’s bar etiquette elbows akimbo for these old-schoolers who wear their facial hair sans irony, their Carhartt for actual work. Their lack of tolerance of the madness is abated only by the abundance of nubile flesh parading in the pre-packaged, slut-du-jour costumery.

Me: It’s big-titty Party City up in here.

Blue Collar Man (to me in a brocade coat and feathers): You look like you’d look good in one-a-em costumes. How come you ain’t wearing one?

Me: I’m a natural slut.

Blue Collar Man: Say whaaaat?

I am rescued by what I can only describe as an incredibly well-preserved party boy whom I’ve known since the first underground punk scene reared its unkempt head in the Triad. Now he’s a middle-aged Stefon who tells me that the afterparty is at a house where midgets in lederhosen are passing around beer bongs.

Me: You lie.

Spring Garden Stefon: It’s true. Most of the kids there are more amazed by the beer bongs than the midgets.

Me: That’s makes sense, I guess. I’ve seen a lot more midgets in the past 20 years than I’ve seen beer bongs.

It’s last call in the land of the lost and the natives are getting restless. I debate calling an Uber and heading to the house of tiny Teutonics, but there’s been enough beer, lederhosen and sausage talk for one night. And besides, the Day of the Dead lasts for three days — and I’d like to be alive for it, and preferably not amongst Germans.

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