As deep and dreary as my addiction was, there were moments of extreme levity, and for that I am grateful. Back in 1995, my brother threw a Halloween party. He lived in Fishtown, a charming city within a city, the colored buildings decorated with goblins and ghouls alike, and, as it turns out-a city in which you can walk for blocks and blocks in the middle of the night-safely and uninterrupted.
I brought along a date, Tim, the cook from Houlihan’s, where I was presently employed. He was nice, tall, and very much the gentleman. I had no interest in him whatsoever, but always the people pleaser, I had no idea how to say no, thus the mitigating circumstances-allowing a stranger into you inner circle, your familla…..you end up red pilling a perfectly sane human being, whom, before meeting you and your brood, was as white on rice as you can get.
Upon arrival, Tim and I took a seat on the couch. I dressed up as Madonna, my costume of choice for ten years straight. So easy, and downright sexy, I thought. Mini skirt, fishnet stockings, fuck-me pumps, heavy eyeliner applied to give the appearance of bushy eyebrows, a leather jacket and….voila! Madonna. Craig, my brother, wore no costume, and many of the men, including my date, had no intention of looking the fool in an outfit their better half picked out at Marshalls. We had just started to relax with our beers when my brother said this:
“Courtney dressed up as the devil.”
I could tell by the spark in his eyes that I should turn around and take in her apparel. My poor sister had bought a devil costume, complete with horns, cape and pitchfork. The dynamics of our relationship back then was complicated, yet loving. I saw her as the kindest human being on the planet, so Little Bo Peep compared to my Twisted Sister. I was wildly protective of her, and as the older by five years sister? Let’s just say nobody messed with her, at least not while I was within a five mile radius.
My sister took a boat load of teasing from her siblings. It was the thing to do at the time…..but this was an opportunity so rare, so appetizing, so off the cuff…..I had to shame her, lovingly of course. We laughed at the store bought uniform, and then we went upstairs (I have to preface this story by telling you about these particular stairs-old house stairs that wound tightly in a spiral up six flights of building. Dangerous for a sober party goer, deadly for the drunk) as Craig had a surprise for us: mushrooms, of the Timothy Leary kind. Psychedelics from nature, what could possibly go wrong????????
As I poured my second beer from the keg, my sister, wide-eyed and stressed to the max, whispered in my ear: “I didn’t get off right away, so Craig gave me more in a candy bar.”
“MORE???????” How much MORE??????,” I asked my red as a beet sibling.
You have to understand, neither of us had ever tried such a thing, we were very sheltered growing up and weed was as strong as it got, at least until this evening. My sister was not a seasoned partier-Craig and I were older, prone to experimental drug use…..but Courtney? She was afraid of chemicals, and I had to hide my horror that she had just ingested a boat load more than she should have, and now I had to keep my eyes on her-for the duration of this shin dig.
The party eventually moved upstairs, into my brother’s room. Starting to feel a bliss heretofore unfelt, I laughed and carried on: we hung out with comedic people back in the day, big personalities and broken psyches. We all had a past in common, one of waiting tables yes, but more times than not? Depression and mood disorders, addictions and afflictions. But we were family, and my brother threw the best ever parties.
The shrooms now in effect, I found everything hilarious…..I have never, ever laughed this uproariously in my entire life. Jokes weren’t just funny, they were deliriously mad cap….a spirit of frivolity hung over our collective heads. The bliss that set in was heady stuff, and it all came to a dramatic stop when we noticed the drama unfolding in front of our very eyes. Courtney, always incredibly vanilla, incredibly modest, was laying on my brother’s bed. My friend Terry had just made a hilarious observation, and Craig was gone…….his face purple, his laughter echoing throughout the house………and then it happened, in slow motion, the docudrama that featured drugs, booze and my little sister….becoming unhinged in front of our eyes, and no one could stop what was about to take place.
Apparently, while loosing his proverbial shit at Terry’s story, Craig did not notice that my sister’s store bought costume was stuck underneath his elbow. The harder she struggled, the louder he laughed…..until she was literally down to her bra and panties.
“Red alert, red alert,” I repeated over and over again in my head. I have to help her. People screaming and crying laughing at the site of her didn’t help. I was angry and ashamed for her, yet I could not move-not one inch. The hilarity had kept me frozen in place, and the more my brother laughed, the harder it was to move. My eyes swept the room…..men gawking, women crying….and my little sister, also frozen-but in fear and embarrassment.
After what appeared to be hours, I finally took her hand, walked her to the bathroom and redressed her. She clung to me like a cure for cancer, and didn’t leave my side for the duration. We did everything we could to sober her up, walked her around the block a hundred times, coffee, Ativan…..nothing worked. By four in the morning, everyone had left the party but my siblings and my date. Exhausted, we fell into my brother’s king size bed, Tim laying on the floor next to me. It had taken us hours and hours to stop laughing, to calm down enough to get some shut eye.
“Phatt, foof, tweet, (sound of a balloon in the last seconds of life) farrrrtttt, farrrrtt, farrrrttt.” By the time I discovered that the noise was coming from my own ass? It was too late. I could see the silhouette of my brother’s face in the dark-laughing so hard he was gasping for air, and then it hit me: my date was lying behind my behind, and he was getting the worst of it. The HORROR…..the EMBARASSMENT. Suddenly, the joke was on me, and I finally caved and went with it, laughed until I cried, despite my growing panic.
The happy ending? Tim never darkened my door again…….poor dude.