Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Slickest Thing I’ve Ever Said (A Daylight Savings True Story)

I hate Halloween. Maybe it’s because I was born on Christmas, maybe it’s because I hate clowns, maybe it’s because I was always nervous around kid-centered social activities, but it was a day I never liked. It probably just boils down to my hatred of people wearing makeup, something that has made me one of the few people I know who is consistently unimpressed by The Wizard of Oz. (I think the movie sucks when it goes into color; I always want to see more of what happens in the black-and-white world.)

At any rate, I often avoided trick-or-treating when I was younger, preferring to stay home, watch television with my parents, and answer the door when trick-or-treaters came by. Sometimes I’d even dress in a “low maintenance” costume (usually a Boston Red Sox player) in case any of my classmates came to the door, so that I could play it off like I had already gone out and was now home. Hence, trick-or-treating was usually avoided; Halloween parties were out the question.

This put me in a strange spot a decade later when a few of my closest college friends were throwing a Daylight Savings party. They originally wanted to throw a Halloween party, but an overlapping group of friends were already planning what was going to be the definitive one of the season. My friend Adam realized that Daylight Savings was happening a few days before Halloween that year and told everyone: “It’s a Daylight Savings party, but you’re encouraged to wear your Halloween costume.” It was a stroke of genius: No toes stepped on, no party spirit lost.

It made me think of my favorite episode of the most underrated television show perhaps ever, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, which had a short run in the ’90s on Nickelodeon. The show always had a surreal bent that separated it from anything else on the channel (let alone the fluff that they played on Disney), which in hindsight feels like a precursor to shows like Community and movies by Wes Anderson.

At any rate, they were the only show I’m aware of to do a Daylight Savings episode. In it, Little Pete decides he hates Daylight Savings and wants to fight against it, so he bicycles across the time zones of the country, racking up the extra hours gained in each. Meanwhile, Big Pete goes on a date with his best friend Ellen, only to have it turn disastrous when he tries to cross the line from friendship to romance. After regretting his actions, Big Pete and Ellen realize that Daylight Savings has given them an extra hour, in which they can redo their failed date and bring their relationship back to friendship.

So, suffice to say that the notion of a Daylight Savings party, even one in which you were encouraged to wear your Halloween costume, intrigued me. I had never been to a Daylight Savings party before.

I put on my college equivalent of a “low maintenance” costume: A tie-and-sweater vest-wearing Alex P. Keaton, complete with parted bangs and a copy of the Wall Street Journal under my arm. I am pleased to report that my costume proved so successful (this being an art party, where everybody usually stays in the costume), someone called me a baby-killer in the kitchen.

As I defended rightwing ideologies to leftwing extremists, I noticed my friend Katy (who hated “slutty” girl costumes and dressed like a cowboy) was getting drunker and drunker. When the party was winding down, a very intoxicated Katy (intoxiKaty?) was ready to make her way home. Even though she lived roughly a half an hour out of my way, I decided I was going to be a gentleman and help her navigate through the mean streets of suburban Pittsburgh, where many a lesser man has fallen prey to the well-lit winding sidewalks and charming front lawns. Through some brave combination of caution, diligence, and determination, I was able to get her home safely in one piece.

The next day, I ran into Katy in a computer lab. She had long since sobered-up and put together what had happened the night before. “Thanks for walking me home,” she said with a bit of embarrassment. “I feel bad – you really didn’t have to walk so far out of your way.”

“It was a Daylight Savings party,” I told her. “I had an extra hour to use, so I used it to walk you home.”

She smiled and gave me a look as though I had just said the slickest thing I would ever say.

Which I just had.

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