Halloween: The Most American of Holidays

I don’t know the history of Halloween, so from the get go that might be an untrue title.  Furthermore, the Most American of Holidays is probably Thanksgiving or the 4th of July.  At any rate, Halloween isn’t celebrated here in Georgia and we decided to stage our own Halloween festivities in Zugdidi.

Zugdidi is a very small city, and kind of out of the way.  It’s rather close to the border with Abkhazia–the break-away region that, with the help of Russian forces in 2008, successfully declared independence (It’s now occupied by the Russian army and pretends to exercise sovereignty)–but it’s a nice city if you can get to it!  For me, it takes about six hours on a marshrutka to travel all the way to Zugdidi.  This is a burden that I certainly bear happily as any trip to Zugdidi means quality time with some of my favorites people!

After we killed a cow in a manner most suited to a Halloween celebration (bloodily), Marissa and I arrived back in Zugdidi in the pouring rain to help prepare for the party.  Courtni, a lovely Second Grouper, had gone to great lengths to rent the Zugdidi movie theater and set it up for party time.  Some of the Ozurgeti girls were there to lend a hand, as well.

Let me be clear, Marissa and I helped out, but Courtni and the others deserve full credit for acquiring the theater and a live DJ for the party.  Courtni did so much work towards this party that I feel selfish and a bit guilty claiming even a smidge of responsibility for its success.  In fact, let me be clearer, I really didn’t contribute much at all to setting up the party.  Marissa and Courtni coordinated the whole thing via telephone and facebook and Courtni did all the leg work herself.  I played chaperone in the middle of the night when people were really drunk and in need of assistance.  That counts, right?

While Courtni negotiated prices with the DJ and set up equipment in the movie theater, we all got gussied up at Marissa's house!

Joanne, Cristen, and Stephanie found their way to Marissa’s house where we all proceeded to put on our costumes.  The girls had spent the better part of Friday afternoon hunting for the perfect windbreakers in the Zugdidi Marketplace and boy did they find them!  I had been at a loss as far as what to dress as, but had packed some nice clothes and my Russian fur hat.  A few more additions from the marketplace and I had a full on Russian Stereotype and/or Business-Casual KGB Officer going on.

The costume also included black leather gloves and a pocket-sized bottle of vodka not pictured here. Also not pictured here, my mosquito face! The hat nicely covers most of them. Those are a trio of Soviet-era medals that I bought at the market. They are commemorating anniversaries of the 1917 Revolution, Lenin's Birth, and WWII.

Earlier in the day I tested out my AK-BBgun and it worked awesomely!  Marissa can probably still find little orange pellets around her apartment if she looks hard enough!  The party started at 7 so we headed over a bit early to help with final preparations.  Marissa had the guestlist and a place to collect money and Stephanie and I went and bought three pizzas.  Whenever I walked the streets of Zugdidi I left my hat and gun behind and tried to hide my medals behind my scarf.  Overall it worked rather well, but I think the ladies at the pizza shop may have caught a glimpse of Lenin and Stalin on my chest.  Whoops!  When we returned, nearly everyone had arrived!

There's so much going on in this photo! We've got me forcing a British Soldier to surrender, Marissa and two of the other Mall-Walker Moms (Se if you can spot them!) looking on, Courtni-Mario, BP, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, and so much more!

Personally, I thought the costumes were generally really great!  Most people had gotten really creative with their outfits.  Several people going for shock-factor had dressed as Hitler and the Twin Towers (Complete with jumpers!) and a few had gone the more adorable route as cats and , most memorably, Pig Quinn!

The Brits were all the ones aiming to offend. I guess they all took a page from Prince Harry's book. (Not Pictured: Hitler)
Pik Quinn as Pig Quinn, Stephanie the Mall-Walker Mom, and Pauli, who had by this point been collecting other people's costume pieces for several hours. He may not be wearing anything of his own. Except those jeans shorts.
When Sarah Palin showed up at the party, it was clear that she could not peacefully coexist with a Russian soldier. A firefight ensued.

The evening also saw my first ever game of Beer Pong.  It was an epic match up of me and Marissa vs. Ian and Cristen, a rivalry for the ages.  Except that me and Marissa sucked.  I had never played before and Marissa was, in her own words, “terrible.”  Despite being terrible she managed to sink every one of our successful shots.  We still lost, but it was an awesome loss!

We're definitely going to lose.
"I am no longer hindered by sleeves! Now what're you gonna do!?" Seriously, Marissa's windbreaker has removable sleeves.
Our rivals were unmoved by the frightening display of unburdened Marissa. We had to step up our game and try other forms of intimidation....
Nothing to scare the pants off an enemy like a Dragon Face! Though my face in the photo reveals nothing but utter calm, upon further review, I am terrified by Marissa's Dragon face.
Nathan was pretty nonplussed though. Good job, Nathan.
When dragons sense weakness, they pounce.

So we left the table, mildly ashamed but exhilarated.  I returned downstairs to the makeshift dancefloor to carry on with my evening.  I had played beer pong and even had a chance to “Zamboni!” so I really couldn’t complain.

It was kind of like this: Soviet, and Zamboni-ing!

The dance floor was a shitshow of awesomeness.  Everyone was in their costumes rocking out to some awesome tunes.  The DJ was pretty good, but kind of a controlling jerk when it came to requests.  We had compiled several playlists worth of music that we wanted to hear.  He had his own mixer and such and would frequently dishonor or override our requests, which was kind of frustrating.

For example, we wanted to hear some Boney M.  I politely asked him to play us some and he said yes.  Fifteen minutes later he had not played it.  So he said, “Fine, here, you can plug in this other laptop (Courtni’s) and play it yourself,” and he stalked off.  I got it set up and played through maybe a song and a half when the music suddenly died.  I looked over and saw him plugging his own music back in.  I wanted to be like, “Dude, we’re paying you.  This is not your party.” but it wasn’t a big enough deal to cause a scene over.  Also, Pauli had gotten a decent shot of Boney M. by this point anyway.

Note: This is also the answer to a previous question, "What is going on here?" from two posts ago. At this point in the evening, Pauli had only just begun accumulating other people's costume pieces. It gets better.

Marissa also had a fantastic time listening to Boney M. and began shedding costume pieces.  In this case, she swapped Pauli her windbreaker with optional sleeves for his tie and glasses.  Because I love them both so much, I’m posting two photos post-swap.  (“Them” here refers not only to the two photos in question, but also to Pauli and Marissa!)

Looking so unbelievable awesome.
This is a really nice photo of the three of them. I feel like I was able to really capture the inner beauty and intelligence of all the people in this photo.

The dancefloor began to heat up, as the night wore on.  Eventually it got so hot that Pauli had to take off his sleeves.

Pauli shortly thereafter put the sleeves back on...as pant legs. They remained bunched up at his ankles for the rest of the night.

Movies started showing in the theater pretty late at night.  We started with the Exorcist but the projectionist cut the movie off just as it was starting to get good!  Regan had just been possessed and done the whole pee-on-the-carpet bit when he turned it off!  What a jerk!  He put on The Mist instead which, despite the fact that it takes place in my home state of Maine, sucked.

Not one for silly horror films, Pauli collected all the costumes he could find and ran about looking for trouble.

He found it.

I made fun of Courtni-Mario's smudged moustache and had one drawn on my face by a very drunk Yev. These are the results.

So to wrap up the weekend without embarrassing anyone of the people who needed “chaperoning” away from the party in the middle of the night, look at these last two photos!

The biggest and best surprise of the night? Nino and Tatia showed up at the party in cognito! I had called Nino and told her to come to the party and she flat out lied to me saying she could never make it. Then she showed up! I was elated/mildly angry, but only jokingly angry. I rode home on the seven hour marshrutka with these two wonderful ladies and was very glad they made it to the party!
Ernie, this picture is for you. I saw these boots in a marketplace in Zugdidi and I would have bought them for you but I don't think you're a child's sized rain boot.

6 thoughts on “Halloween: The Most American of Holidays

  1. Who cares if I’m a child’s size or not! Those are pricelessly magnificent! And I also took 10 minutes out of my VERY VERY VERY busy work day to read this….lol

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