Snap Apple Night
“Feast of the dead?” Arnie’s meatball dropped off the fork when it was halfway to his mouth. “And divination?” He heard Cindi say the invitations to the Halloween Snap Apple Night were sent out, but was paying more attention to his dinner. Now he was interested in what she was saying.
“What is crab apple night, anyway?” He re-stabbed his meatball and shoved it in his waiting mouth. Cindi laughed. “See! You were not paying attention again. It is Snap Apple Night, not crab apple.” Arnie put out both hands and tilted his head in a gesture of a question as he slowly savored his meatball.
“It is an ancient Celtic celebration held on Halloween night, or All Hallows Eve as they called it back then. I am tired of going to boring costume parties our friends give. They’re always the same no matter who has the party, we all just stand around drinking and talking about our costumes. So, I planned a fun evening. Everyone has to dress like folks did in the mid 1800s and we will play the games that were popular then, like bobbing for apples, divination games, lots of stuff.”
“Are you going to serve spaghetti and meat balls, like this? Damn these are good meat balls, Honey! Lots of garlic just the way I like it.” He stuffed another one in his mouth. Cindi rolled her eyes up and moaned, “For crying out loud, they didn’t have spaghetti and meat balls then.” Arnie frowned and looked disappointed. “Okay! We’ll serve your meat balls.” She got up to clear the table as Arnie grabbed the last meat ball off the platter.
A week before the party they had to clean up the barn, which they only used for storage of lawn and garden tools and supplies. With the smooth cement floor it was easy to sweep out. She was so surprised that all 60 couples invited had sent their RSVP back with a ‘yes’. So she moved her plans to the barn.
All the rental tables and chairs had been delivered early the day before the party. Now they were all set with orange table cloths and decorated with Indian corn bundles, small pumpkins, gourds and candles. One table with eight place settings had a white table cloth and lots of candles down the center. Cindi had painted a sign, which read ‘Feast for the Dead’, for Arnie to hang over the table. “Now remember, Arnie, no one sits at this table. It is the custom to honor the dead by setting a place for them and make them feel welcome.”
“Riiight,” Arnie drawled. “Just what I want in my barn – a bunch of dead people.” He started walking like a zombie and moaning. He grabbed Cindi and held her tight. “My feast!” She squealed and laughed when he started nibbling on her ears and neck.
Halloween day finally arrived. Cindi had been so excited and kept Arnie busy all day helping her set up for Snap Apple Night. There were large cushions on the floor by the tub of water for those who bobbed for apples. A long stick was hanging from a rope. The stick had an apple stuck on one end and a feather to represent the customary dagger on the other end. It was low enough for guests to stand there and try to bite the apple and not get stabbed by the ‘dagger’ as the stick was spun around.
A portable fire pit was placed outside the double doors to welcome spirits of the dead. Mirrors were placed on a wall in a darkened corner for foretelling the future of love. While holding a lit candle, a woman can gaze in the mirror and an image of her beloved will appear. A table was set up with black bowls of water for scrying.
Cindi was dressed like a fortune teller. Her booth had sheer gossamer curtains around it and seating cushions were on the floor. She would do Tarot card readings for those who asked. A small band of fiddlers and banjo players would play music for dancing.
A long table was set up for a buffet and desserts. At precisely nine-o’clock, the caterers Cindi had hired would bring in all the foods for the buffet and also for the Feast of the Dead table. “You did make my meat balls, right Honey?” Cindi assured Arnie she did. “And with lots of garlic!”
Guests started arriving at 8:00 when cocktail hour started. In less than an hour the place was packed. At ten minutes to nine Cindi announced, “The buffet food will be brought out soon and the spirits of the dead will be served. Then the eating and festivities will begin.” The band started playing and folks were quick to dance.
At 9:00 when the food was placed on the spirits table eight people dressed like ghouls walked in and shoved people out of the way to get to their table. Arnie turned to Cindi. “What a great surprise that is. You didn’t tell me you asked people to dress up like that for crab apple night.” She looked up at him. “It’s Snap Apple Night, not crab apple. That is so cool!,” then she looked at the table. “I didn’t do that, Honey. That’s a great idea for you to do that.” Before Arnie could answer she hurried over to the buffet table and picked up a platter of meat balls then went to the spirit’s table. “Meat balls, anyone?” One of the ghouls leaned towards her and smelled the meat balls, made a horrible sound of disgust and rudely shoved Cindi away. All the guests were laughing and talking about how great the idea of ghouls was. They were congratulating Cindi on such a fun party.
Cindi called Arnie over to the buffet table. “Arnie, your guests are a bit rude, sloppy eaters, and they smell bad!” Arnie grabbed a meat ball before she sat the platter down. “They aren’t my guests. Didn’t you invite them?” Cindi was confused. “Then who are they?” They both looked over at the ghouls. A few guests were at the table talking to the ghouls. When a man patted one on the shoulder the ghoul stood up and shoved the man away roughly. The guests laughed and went back to dancing. “This does not look good,” Arnie said. “Either someone played a rude joke on us or those are party crashers.” He walked over to the tables and addressed the ghoul who shoved the guest and Cindi. “Look, guys. I don’t know who you are, but you need to leave now. You’re rude and you’re stinking up the place. So, take off your masks and get out!” Arnie grabbed the ears of what he thought was a mask and tried to yank it off.
The ghoul yelled and stood up, hitting Arnie hard, causing him to stumble backwards and slam up against a wall. He slid down and was out cold. Cindi screamed and all the guests stared, watching her run to Arnie and kneel down by him. “This is the best party I have ever been to,” said one guest. “Me, too!” said another. “These acts are great and so realistic.” A lot of chattering and laughter went round the crowd. The ghouls got up to leave at midnight as ghouls should on Snap Apple Night. But before they left they ran through the crowd scaring everyone and trying to grab the ladies who were screaming, making all the men laugh. The ghouls left hurriedly when three German Shepherds ran in barking and snapping at them, chasing the frightened ghouls out.
As guests were leaving they stopped to thank Cindi for such a great party. “Too bad Arnie drank too much and passed out. He missed all the fun!” one guy said.
Cindi managed to wake up Arnie when she applied an ice pack on the back of his head. The catering manager came over and helped Cindi get Arnie up. “Are you two alright? I got out to my truck as soon as I could and let my dogs loose. I’ve seen this happen before when someone gives a Snap Apple Night party. So, I came prepared. Ghouls hate dogs. They won’t be back, they are too frightened of this place now.” Cindi just stared at him.
Arnie sat down on a chair, one hand on the back of his head. “Did they eat all my meat balls?”
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns