Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Party Thief

We called it a movie masquerade party, and a thief showed up. Everyone arrived wearing costumes depicting a character in a movie. It was a chance for the party-goers to live out their silver-screen fantasies as well as mingle with other stars-for-the-evening. Most of the characters were readily apparent except for Mimi Bunt's Olive Oyl. Mimi buys her clothes at the Salvation Army store, rendering her regular appearance to be a mismatched grab-bag of Bohemian hip. To those who know her, it was apparent she made no effort to wear a costume and really conjured up the Olive Oyl thing on the spur of the moment. This is one of the benefits of the truly off-beat; they keep us all guessing.

Lu Lu Gilkey, undoubtedly the most popular of the party-goers, came dressed as Daisy Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard (or barely dressed if you overheard the whispered, catty remarks). However, the always-gracious Janet Cupples, decked out like Mary Poppins, took one look at her and commented, "Lu Lu, if I had legs like yours, I too, might risk wearing those short-shorts in public." Lu Lu laughed at the compliment, tossed her hair back and gave her one of those fake Hollywood hugs that aren't really hugs at all, more like half-hearted efforts at saying howdy. Still, most of the men in attendance would have been quite appreciative of the howdy gesture if it was practiced on them.

My costume was the irascible Yosemite Sam, while my wife's was the beguiling Glinda the Good Witch, a couple of characters drawn from our historical plays where characters from varied venues allow themselves to travel through time in a quest to find true love. Essential to each of these characters was Yosemite Sam's stage-pistols and Glinda's two-foot long acrylic wand, tipped with a glitter-encrusted silver star. After a brief showing, the pistols and wand were set in a corner of the dining room, forgotten, while we doted on the whims of our guests. Towards the end of the evening, the party took a turn to the dark side when the pistols and wand disappeared. It was a queasy feeling knowing a thief lurked among the masqueraders.

The pistols and wand were cumbersome items but could be smuggled out the door if stuffed in someone's pants. There were plenty of suspects, lots of baggy pants as well as a few limps, both real and character-driven. After scrutinizing the crowd for guilty looks, the whole lot of costumed pillagers appeared suspect. I reminded myself to check each and every one of them off any future party list.

It was clear the only trustworthy person was Lu Lu; her outfit left no room for smuggling anything but a couple of M&Ms. So I took her into my confidence and asked for help. Her quick reply was, "Leave it to Lu Lu." As the guests were leaving, she positioned herself near the door and began giving each person one of what she calls her special "remember me, goodbye-hugs." It was more of an embrace, with her leg doing some provocative exploring in and around the pant-leg area. There were no objections to Lu Lu's departing gestures, and in fact, many of the men casually dawdled near the door, ensuring their turn at a special goodbye.

When all the marauders departed, Lu Lu presented me with a list of seven people scrawled on a cocktail napkin. "Here's your suspects," she said with pride.
-Dr. Spock
-Indiana Jones
-Poncho Villa
-The Tin Man
-Daffy Duck

"There was something hard in the pants of each and every one of these characters," she said.
The question begged to be asked, "No female suspects?"
"I don't know where you got your guest list, the library maybe; a bookish bunch of gals, not exactly the pilfering type. The men, on the other hand: very suspicious, possibly secret lives; satellite families in Brazil, off-shore accounts. Not a straight-shooter among them, except maybe Daffy, if he'd learn to keep his feathered paws to himself."
" How," I asked, "could there be seven offenders when only three items were taken?"
"Maybe," she paused, "there's other stuff missing. Maybe you've been robbed worse than you think by those tinsel-town-fakers."
"Well," I said, "there was a roll of dental floss missing, wintergreen flavored. Did you happen to notice if anyone's breath seemed extra minty?"
Lu Lu appeared a little indignant. "I wish you'd told me that sooner; I have a special good-bye smooch that would have closed this case."
I thanked Lu Lu for her efforts and walked her to the door. Upon parting, she turned and said, "Be careful around that bunch. They just might be in cahoots with one another. I'm a good detective. I've watched every episode of Murder She Wrote, and like Angela Lansbury, I know a thing or two about exposing concealed evidence."
Not even a cunning sleuth like Ms Lansbury could argue with the techniques of a seasoned, helpful gumshoe like Lu Lu.