Friday October 31, 1986
“Wow, Joe!” Misty exclaimed to her husband, “I really like that costume on you! But will you be able to move in it?”
Joe Kleen’s torso was encased in two cardboard boxes that had been painted silver. His arms and legs were covered in flexible silver colored air duct sheathing and he had a large, inverted silver funnel atop his head. His shoes had been spray painted silver and in his hand was a large cardboard ax, also silver. All exposed skin was covered in shiny silver body paint and he looked a very proper Wizard of Oz Tin-man.
“I will if you oil me. Get it?”
“Yes, Joe I get it. Have a heart will you and pare down the bad puns? You make a really cute tin-man. I especially like the oversize ax.”
“Yeah, thanks! Maybe I’ll do a little air guitar with it. Hey, thanks for going to J.T.’s party with me. I know your CIGNA crowd is having their own little shindig.”
“Oh, sure. Don’t worry about it! Career wise Randy’s party might have been smarter but I’m pretty sure the better costumes and better time will be at J.T.’s and Thelma’s.”
“You make an adorable Dorothy” he replied. “That gingham outfit you made is great and you have to admit that that basket with the ‘Toto 4′ album and Kansas’ ‘Point of No Return’ in it was inspired. And what do you say when people ask you about it?”
“Joe, really? I got it.”
“Just say it for me. Please?”
“Joe, you are such a child.”
“No, that’s not it. You’re supposed to say-”
“I hold the album up and say, ‘Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.'”
“One more time?”
“For me?” he asked sticking out his lower lip in a pout.
“Yeah, yeah. That’s me. I do love, love, love all that silver but is that paint going to come off?
“Well, it’s water based. It says it comes off with soap and water.”
“I hope that’s true. Well, are we ready to see the wizard?”
“I think that would be the Baum, Dorothy.”
“Wow. You know, Mr. Kleen sometimes I just hate you.”
“Oh, come on. Have a heart!”
The party officially started at 8:00 and the Kleens arrived unfashionably on time. J.T. and Thelma had done a lot of decorating. A large wooden coffin served as an ice chest and was filled with beer, soda and wine spritzers. A long table sat in a corner of their kitchen and its six foot length was already well stocked with goodies when Misty laid her platter of spinach balls on it. Thelma was dressed in a nurse’s outfit. The outfit’s ultra short hem line was paired with an equally plunging neckline and Joe did his best to glance rather than stare down Thelma’s blouse. The dirt on the knees of Thelma’s white stockings mystified Joe and when he asked she smiled at him and said simply, “Head nurse.”
“Dang it! Should have seen that one coming,” was Joe’s red faced, big winked reply.
J.T. was dressed in a hospital gown and beneath the flimsy, open at the back garment he wore flesh colored, skintight underwear that created the illusion that those who stood behind the Challenge Dunwoody’s store manager were being thoroughly subjected to his derriere’s exposure.
“Rosy cheeks,” Misty said to their host as she quickly embraced J.T. “Bit drafty in there, isn’t it?”
“Well, you know,” came J.T.’s response, “I suffer for my art. How’s Sultry Mama? Haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays.”
“Oh, real good. Thanks. And You? Keeping busy?”
“Oh, you know,” he drawled, “not too bad this time of year Thelma and I did that big ride at Callaway Gardens on the nineteenth. That was nice. Have you been there?”
“Well sort of. We volunteered for the triathlon this summer. Other than that, no. I hear how nice it is.”
“Oh that’s right! You all camped nearby right? Beautiful place. Too bad it rained on their race. You should go back when you have a chance. The butterfly house can be spectacular.”
“I’ll remember that. Thanks, J.T. Hi, Thelma. I don’t think I’ve seen you since we came over for dinner.”
“Hi, Misty. Thanks so much for coming. I think we did a group ride together last month, didn’t we? Great to see you.”
“Oh, yeah! That’s right! I forgot. Well, thanks for hosting the party. Saved me from going to a boring party at Randy’s, he’s my boss. I like the costume thing, and the prizes! That should get better participation. Everybody where I work is old and boring. I think the next youngest employee is at least forty. Oh! No offense!”
“None taken. A lot of people are old at forty. J.T. and I try to keep things fun. How’s the house hunt? Looking yet?”
“No. We didn’t qualify for much with Joe’s job at the shop so we hope that when he gets a teaching job we can find a house we like that the bank says we can afford. For now the apartment’s fine.”
“Have you thought about a condo? J.T. and I really like ours.”
“We talked about it but when we have kids we’ll want a yard and all that so we decided to wait.”
“Yeah, that makes sense. I never had kids so I don’t think as much about that. Oh! There’s the doorbell. Excuse me, will you?”
The doorbell heralded a large influx of Challenge Cyclery employees, including a stunning young woman dressed in a low cut red evening gown and a tall thin man dressed in a black tuxedo.