In 2014, I went to a Halloween party dressed as a priest. Actually, I went to the wrong Halloween party in 2014 dressed as a priest. It turns out, there were two houses right next door to each other having parties and I, having never been to my friend’s house before, walked into the wrong one.
And then things got interesting.
Since I was so sure I was at the right house, I decided to simply let myself in, bypassing proper protocols like knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell. After all, these were my friends.
Upon entering, I was greeted by a little eight-year-old girl who happily took my coat. That’s odd, I thought to myself, I didn’t know there would be kids at this party.
Then I surveyed the room, searching for a familiar face. There were none. Actually, I thought I recognized the people dressed as Count Dracula and Catwoman, but neither seemed to recognize me. There was also a group gathered in the kitchen, but aside from a couple of bad imitations of Johnny Depp’s pirate character, I recognized no one.
Usually in these awkward moments, the party host or hostess will surface and welcome their guest (in this case, me) into the party, but no such luck. No one emerged. It also occurred to me that I had never met my friend’s friends before.
I suddenly was a little self-conscious. There I was, dressed in a priest’s outfit, standing aimlessly in the hallway, surrounded by goblins, ghosts, and shady characters. I felt like an extra in a horror movie, called in to perform some kind of exorcism. Oh yeah, and apparently, I also was invisible. No one spoke to me.
I needed to do something, I reasoned, so I did what anyone would do in this situation. I headed for my safe haven—better known as the bar.
I don’t know if you’ve ever worn a priest outfit to a party before, but it can be an interesting experience to say the least. As I walked over to the bar area of the (wrong) house, I noticed people (who I didn’t know) respectfully moved out of my way as I passed. You know, kind of like the parting of the Red Sea. What’s more, many nodded and said, “Father” as I went by. And I nodded back, like I was blessing them or something. Weird.
I grabbed a beer (I know, it should have been wine) and chatted with the Shakespeare character standing next to me. Within seconds, he asked for some advice on a personal situation, like we’ve known each other for years—or like I’m a real priest! I gladly gave my two cents, just happy to have someone to talk with.
Moments later another guy in a robe comes in from having had a cigarette on the back porch and says to me, “It was so strange out there. I was hearing voices.”
Are you telling me this because I look like a priest, I thought. I laughed awkwardly, hoping he’d go away. He did.
Eventually a cavewoman found her way to me. “So how do you know Paul?” she asked.
I said, “I know Karen.”
“Who’s Karen?” she replied.
“Karen, the host of the party.”
“This party?” she asked with a confused look on her face.
“Isn’t this Karen’s house?” I asked, as if the floor was about to give way beneath my feet.
“No, this is Paul’s house. I think you might be at the wrong party!”
In that moment I could see heads turn toward me as the room became uncomfortably silent.
“This isn’t 3757 Briarwood?” I joked, already knowing the answer.
“No, this is 3755.”
“But we’d love to have you stay, Father!” yelled one of the Johnny Depps.
“Why not, you’re already here,” added Catwoman.
If there ever was a time for an exorcist, this was probably it. I smiled as my face turned bright red. Even the guy in the devil’s outfit looked pale in comparison.
“I should probably make an appearance next door,” I mused, as I backed out of the kitchen. “But I’m sure I’ll be back.”
My walk to the coat room and out the front door couldn’t have happened fast enough as I humbly hightailed it to the party next door.
This time, I rang the doorbell. Karen welcomed me in.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” she said, leading the way.
“You have no idea,” I said and headed for the bar (again).
*This story is from Geese’s book, “It’s All About Me”