So for the first time in what - 3 years? - I found myself in town and unhampered by anything work-related on a Black Party night. Of course, what's known as the Malate Black Party is a relatively new phenomenon: a 3-year-old cash grab, essentially, that reduced what was once a rambunctious, giddy, open Halloween street party into a gated, bouncer-guarded, pay-per-entry abomination.
Sure, there was a loud hue and cry at the time, but like other holocausts that preceded the Appropriation of the Malate Halloween, once the cries died down all that was left was to dispose of the bodies - figuratively, of course.
It was like the Rape of the Sabines - only screechier.
I've been a Malate denizen far longer than I care to remember, and perhaps it was nostalgia that goaded me to attend last Saturday's event, despite three friends bailing on me for various reasons.* ("I'm suddenly sick because we drank till 4 in the morning", "I'm boycotting those evil greedy motherfuckers", "I saw dead people in your house while we were dressing up and now I'm not in a party mood anymore.")
Wisdom, as usual, is a function of hindsight.
From where my date and I were seated, we could not see the two shrieking banshees that were drafted in from some ancient nightmare as the evening's "hosts." Perhaps I've been away for too long, but I did not realize street parties had any need of "hosts." Unfortunately, while our location spared us from the sight of the duo, our ears were still within reach of their fingernails-across-chalkboard voices, and the constant stream of babbling stupidity backing up out of their mouths.
This is how I pictured the evening's hosts -
but without the entertainment value.
I think I was on my second bucket of San Mig Light when Sweet-Mother-of-God-what-IS-that Lapuz ascended the stage. His voice was as silken as sandpaper on cactus lightly dusted with glass shards, his personality as charming as a government clerk five minutes before lunch break, and the entire exchange onstage as sincere and authentic as a Nigerian prince promising riches for a small favor in your Inbox.
I don't really know what the heck that queen and those two jesters were prattling on about at that point, because I, an obstinate relic from the Old Kingdom, was busy staring ruefully at the oddly-lifeless denizens of the New Queendom, feeling all the futility of Ozymandias.**
My baleful Sauron gaze then turned from the gathered Orcs to my companion: a handsome young heterosexual colt, just recently turned 21, in his first-ever Malate Halloween. A lean moreno yin to my out-of-shape yang, the wide-eyed ange to my jaded démon. I had persuaded this young man to attend this Halloween party in costume, promising him that it was going to be fun and that he would be enjoying himself immensely.
I see dead people.
Little did I know we were both in for a schooling.
Despite wearing a mask to hide his identity, he was sheepish and awkward at all the attention being showered upon him by people - both gay, straight, and anything in-between - asking to have their picture taken with him all night long. Being the veteran and ex-camwhore, I was the one who had to gently prod him to be game and smile for the nice souvenir snappers.
Presently I yanked the boy through the oxymoronically-thin crowd - curiously bereft of costumed revelers - and made a beeline for the old sanctuary: Bed. But once in front of its new portals, I suddenly paused. Like a seasoned wizard who actually knew the password to the Mines of Moria - and prescient to the horrors lying in wait deep within - I changed my mind and steered my young charge, with occasional interruptions from more people wanting pictures, back to the bar from whence we came.
I guess we shall not pass, young Hobbit.
From that perch, I drowned my disappointments and sorrows in drink.
And came to the night's epiphanies.
The old Malate of yore is dead. No nostalgic pilgrimage will resurrect it. Its corps has been dismembered and scattered to the four winds, lost to age and death and other journeys, and its esprit...well, perhaps it's taken on a new form.
A reincarnation that I no longer recognize.
On a night calculated to preempt the actual All Hallows' Eve in the name of commerce, it was cruel poetry, in the end, to dance on the grave of a beloved, now forever lost in time.
Then again, perhaps it's for the best.
Because we all know what happens when you try to bring back the dead.
And it ain't pretty.
*All apparently true.
**I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half-sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survived, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
- Ozymandias, Percy Blythe Shelley