Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday, February 13, 1998

I'm not especially superstitious, but I've always liked the aura around Friday the 13th. I turned 18 in late January of 1998, and we waited until Friday, February 13th, to have my very fitting party, a murder mystery party that I co-wrote with my mom. We titled the party, "Another Murder at the Bates Motel." Thanks to all the hard work of my parents and my friends, it was one of the most amazing parties I've ever had. So much so, I've decided to celebrate it all over again by posting all the party details on this Friday the 13th.

The Invites—I used puzzle invites to write out the party details and then scrambled all of the pieces in the envelope so each guest had to put the puzzle together to know about the party. Because this was a murder mystery party, my mom and I enclosed a "missing persons" information sheet that told the introductory story of the murder and gave a picture of the woman. "She was last seen driving around town in her 1982 maroon Buick Oldsmobile."

The Food—We had mostly normal party food—think veggies and dip and chips and dip, but the cake was something of a sight. It was a strawberry sheet cake with white icing. Right down the middle, my mom had put a giant faux butcher knife. With blood red icing dripping out of either sight...well, it was pretty murderous.

The Beverage—My mom floated plastic eyeballs in Hawaiian punch.

The Photos—We took a large silhouette (think life size) of Norman Bates dressed up as a woman, wielding a giant knife, and painted it in black on a white sheet. We took the white sheet and stretched it tight across two thin boards and nailed it down. We cut out the head of the silhouette, and each guest took a turn standing behind it for some hilariously gruesome photos.

The Decorations—My dad spent weeks making a "No Vacancy - Bates Motel" sign. He used red and blue Christmas lights to spell out all the letters and attached them to a black board. Nothing says murder mystery party like this sign in your front yard.

Once inside, guests each received a Bates Motel room key, with a number on it that assigned them a specific role to play in the murder mystery. We also recreated the crime scene in my parents' garage. Using the 1982 maroon Buick, courtesy of my grandma, we placed the lady and the clues of her last moments in typical caution tape fashion. A few weeks before my party, a local store was going out of business, so I bought one of their half mannequins to play the role of "dead lady." She didn't cost much, seeing as how she was only waist up, but she made an excellent, too-real-not-to-take-another-look prop.

The Game—We had each person's role in the crime written out on different sheets of paper. As they drew a room key, they received their role. We took turns letting everyone read their information until we solved the crime. I've slept since then, so I don't remember the exact details, but I do remember my friend Jay ended up "winning." My mom gave him the faux butcher knife as the prize. I do remember my mom and I spent a lot of time writing the story. It was great, great fun, but it was also insanely crazy to keep up with all the plots and storylines. We'd bought a murder mystery kit and had used it for a previous party, so I know we used that as our guide. If I had it to do all over again, I'd call Deputy Police Chief Brenda Lee Johnson and ask for her advice.

The Gift—I got a lot of great gifts that year, but the one that stands out in my mind is the scrapbook Ruthie and Dawn made for me. As a surprise to me, they had all of my friends write a birthday message to me, and they took pictures of all of my friends and compiled them together. What an awesome gift!

The I Can't Believe This Is Happening Surprise—Because I co-wrote the story with my mom, I wasn't really able to play the game. But, my mom is the Queen of Surprises, and she pulled a good one on me at this party. Here, I thought I knew everything about the crime scene, the game, the decor...a few minutes into the party, the doorbell rang and my mom made me answer it. She'd asked a real detective from our home town to come in and fingerprint the guests!!! Believe me, I was super surprised. I'm also really glad that's the only time a detective has ever been on my doorstep, asking for me!

All in all, my 18th birthday party was very fun and very different...just the way I like it! Thanks again to my parents for all the work they put into it, my brother, Clark, for playing along, and all of my friends who came to the party and contributed to the scrapbook.


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