Where there is no imagination there is no horror; -ACD

Ok, so I couldn’t decide between that quote, and this one:

There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch – Robert Brault.

But the general theme of the two is: Halloween. That’s right, the holiday where parents throw the advice of “don’t speak with strangers” to the wind and allow their children to take various sustenance from unknown individuals.

That, of course, is one of the many critiques on the holiday. I do acknowledge most of the shortcomings, but stick to one general rule: have fun.

Which, being over the age of twelve on a day that seems specifically reserved for the naivete of younger children who willingly receive candy from strangers, is actually easier said than done. Because, no matter how much people say “I’m too old for all that stuff,” there really is a child in every one of us looking for a brightly lit front porch, whether that porch promises sugary snacks or just a place to go and have a good time.

Cue the murder mystery party. Yes, you heard me correctly, my audience of an empty room and maybe if I’m lucky a fly on the wall, a murder mystery party. I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t think they’re too cool to set one up. And doesn’t live in a place where noise complaints are a serious issue. Cough cough, college dorms were not such a fantastic idea after all.

For our party of twelve, we created our own characters. A friend and I wrote them specifically for each person attending the party. And no, a ‘character’ is not simply a knight who is seeking a princess. For us, a character was a drug addicted homeless man who aspires to be on Broadway, but for now settles for living on the street Broadway and incessantly breaking into song and dance. And that was a more normal character.

We had a polite Canadian gangster, two overly paranoid secret agents with a particularly keen grudge against one another, a Norwegian government official who transformed into a Pokemon upon any question asked to him, Mulan, Mozart, a war veteran, a psychiatrist, and a recently graduated high school student named Michael Stoner. Oh, except the latter five were all the same person with a multiple personality disorder.

I could probably go on. Tragically during the evening, one of a set of twins who could only speak by completing each others sentences was murdered. It was slowly revealed that the polite Canadian gangster, who had had a one night stand with every person in the room but never called them back, had obtained government secrets from one of Michael Stoner’s many personalities. Or wait, was it from the Norwegian government official?

This is kind of where things went wrong. My friend and I created the characters, while another one of our friends created the storyline. But something got lost in translation, and it became nearly impossible – even with the home-schooled girl who learned all her social cues from game-shows narrating the events subsequent to the murder – to ascertain who murdered poor Tim Lim, Jim Lim the secret undercover cop’s beloved twin.

Still, though, it was hilarious, and definitely worth the attempt. And I think the brilliant sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s quote could work both ways. With imagination you can create horror, but it would be horrible not to have imagination, because that’s what makes things like this possible and, basically, risking getting cliche here – anything worth doing.

So happy Halloween. Your dentist thanks you for your participation in the holiday.


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