Flashback Friday: Halloween in the Big House

There have been a few memorable Halloweens in my time. Take Kindergarten, for example: I was a scarecrow and somehow between my dress rehearsal at home and showtime at school, I forgot how to stuff my costume with hay, so my teacher had to put our Halloween parade on hold while she crammed hay down my neck hole. Not exactly what either of us had in mind, I’m sure.

But the most memorable Halloween would have to be that of my freshman year of college. After a lot of deliberation, my friends and I decided to dress up as cowgirls and Indians. Sure, not the most politically correct choice, but it was easy to pull off as a group. I initially chose to be a cowgirl but was quickly (self) promoted to ‘sheriff’ once I heard the siren song of the accessories aisle at the party supply store. This was a move that I would both regret and relish in later.

My friends and I jumped in a cab and headed to a house off campus where a Halloween party was being held. After a few hours of fun and festivities, we heard a commotion and learned that the police had shown up and were in the process of raiding the house. They had caught wind of some underage drinking (and probably fire code violations since the house was packed to the gills) and they were shuttin’ it down.

We thought that the extent of our problems would be trying to get a cab home; it never occurred to us that we would be in trouble because come on! they can’t arrest us all! but then we heard that they were starting to take people away in cruisers. Not just the underage drinkers or the folks who lived in the house, but everyone at the party. The brave (or reckless, depending on how you look at it) ones tried to make a break for it through windows and were met by policemen who had posted themselves at every possible exit. They were taking everyone downtown and there was nothing we could do about it.

So we waited.

The police would fill up the paddy wagon, haul the lot to the station to drop them off, and then come back to the house for the next load. As you can imagine, this took some time and the rest of us were left to think long and hard about what our parents would do to us when they found out that we had been arrested. After a few hours, people were getting restless and started calling shotgun in the next paddy wagon trip just to get out of the house and meet their fate.

Eventually it was our turn, so we headed outside. The irony of being crammed into a paddy wagon by cops while dressed like a sheriff was not lost on me. After being told by one of the officers that no, they didn’t need any of my help but that they appreciated the offer, I hopped in my chariot and off we went.

It was an overwhelming scene at the station, but the general mood was jovial. There was a line out the door of festively clad youths, none of whom seemed too troubled by their predicament. After all, it’s hard to feel too down when you’re watching a giant chicken and Cookie Monster getting fingerprinted next to each other. And as it turned out, we weren’t actually being arrested, we were just being taken into protective custody. I figured this would be something that my brother would appreciate, so I gave him a ring at around 3:30am when we finally broke out of the slammer. To his credit, he answered the phone, though I was greeted with:

“You had better either be in the hospital or in jail to be calling me at this hour.”

to which I cheerfully replied,

“I’m in jail!”

Oh the fun we have.

To make the entire situation even better, we learned that the incident had made the news. I think my favorite part of the whole thing was when my friend called her parents the next day and her dad – jokingly – asked “So, did you get arrested last night?” She answered with “No, just protective custody. Why, did you see me on the news?”