We have a number of August birthdays in our little circle, so each August we’ve tossed a party in fancy dress, often with a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) theme. Barbarians, vampires, spies and diplomats, what have you. It keeps people flowing and interacting with folks outside their segment of the circle, and lets new faces mingle without wondering “What am I going to TALK to these people about?”
This year was a big year for several of the August babies—they are turning 40. Those birthdays ending in a zero are always big, starting with the big one-oh. You’re finally not a baby any more, then you’re finally not a punk kid any more (and on your next birthday you can go out and get verschnikitt legally), then you’re no longer an arrogant twenty-something—you’re a grown-up who deserves to be taken seriously, and then you’re at the middle of your life. What now?
Well, we believe in being prepared, so instead of the usual elbow-in-the-ribs funeral 40th party, where everyone wears black, and the wives/lovers/husbands of the celebrants wear veils and sunglasses we decided to go to what happens after that, and throw a huge Heaven and Hell party.
Two of the circle live side-by-side next to each other, and had just installed a gate between the houses to cut the walk short. Their back doors are a lot closer together than the front doors. So the space between the homes became purgatory, with Heaven on the right and Hell on the left.
Ready for the tour? I’ll be your guide to the party to end them all, so remember what I look like—there are people you wouldn’t want to end up following, no, no.
We’ll start by turning right, through the gates of Heaven, where the monks of St. Benzedrine are chanting “Stairway to Heaven” softly and sweetly . . .
Down the hall of mirrors—hey, I always thought vanity was a SIN???—and past the Oracle of Delphi where the Oracle is performing a reading (fortune-telling???), through the Temple of Solomon and the belly-dancers (And what about lust??? That’s one of the Big Seven!) and into the kitchen of manna (don’t get me started on gluttony, now . . .) where the chocolate fondue fountain showers gently next to the mounds of strawberries and angel’s food cake, with Odin’s ravens watching closely over all . . .
Enough of that! Back out through Purgatory, where the way is clearly marked with good intentions . . .
And we all know where those lead . . .
Although the results may not be what we intended . . .
Sometimes they’re not a bad idea . . .
We’re at the gate!
Be sure to look up as we pass through . . .
And go by the dance floor, with souls writhing as the DJ whips the flames higher, and cranks up the volume on the screams. We’ll walk through the feast hall (be sure to try the devilled eggs, made by our resident castrato) and then out through Hell’s Kitchen to the festivities presided over by the Darkness Incarnate. If it gets too warm, try a dip in the pool . . .
But beware of the lifeguard!