Halloween was never a celebrated holiday in my household. At least not in the same sense that “the world” celebrated Halloween. Growing up, my good, church-going family always told us it was evil. In school, while the other kids were giddy at the idea of dressing up as a witch with the promise of free candy, the Newsome kids secretly admired them. As we got older, my mom loosened her restrictions and we could dress up, just not as anything scary. I was Cleopatra one year, Mary, the mother of Jesus another. But soon you grow out of dressing up for Halloween and the novelty wears off.
Halloween of 2008 was no different than any other in my life. I was a reporter in Columbus on my way hopefully to bigger and better things. But it was in October of 2008 that I realized how I’d failed to cultivate a social life in the city. Whenever I move to a city, I move right into downtown. To this day, my worst nightmare is waking up in the suburbs. I like the vibrancy of the city. Because I’m a people watcher, I want the option of having an interesting and colorful landscape of characters to observe. What and who would I watch in the suburbs besides a long line of anonymous neighbors mowing their grass? But in the 2 1/2 years I’d been in Columbus, I’d not done a thing but turn down invitations. I’m an introvert at heart. Social situations are awkward for me. When you’re on TV (in any capacity), people are usually expecting you to perform. I’d much rather spend a performance-free evening home alone. But with only 6 months left in the city I made a pact with myself to say YES to every event I was invited to until I left Columbus. One such invitation came from a sweet guy I knew from college named Darrell Perry. It wasn’t the first time he’d requested the ‘pleasure’ of my company. 2 years earlier, we saw each other again for the first time since college at the funeral of a mutual friend. He gave me his card and suggested we get together sometime. During the course of 2 years he’d occasionally send me an email to remind me of the original suggestion. But I did what any well-mannered lady does when she’s not interested; I acted as if getting together was a remote possibility, but then ignored all attempts at follow up. After all, he wasn’t my “type.” I’m 5’9″ barefooted and well over 6 feet in my beloved high heels. He was 5’8″ at best. He was cute as a button but didn’t have my usual attribute of an athletic build. It sounds so shallow when I think about it now, that height would be a serious criteria for even accepting an invitation to dinner. But with my internal pact in my mind I accepted his invitation to a Halloween party. I decided to go as a beauty queen simply because I had been a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding a month earlier and had the dress and shoes at my fingertips. I bought a crown from a prop store for a couple dollars, but still needed to make the outfit authentic. I didn’t want anybody confused about what I was. My co-worker (who was the traffic reporter) was ACTUALLY a former Ms. Franklin County. She let me borrow her winning sash (which I’m pretty sure is against some sort of official pageant rule, but it’s awesome she trusted me) and THAT made my costume complete. JR was the first person I looked for when we walked into the party. I was there with friends but I wanted him to know I came. I said I would come and I came (a first in our short history of almost get-togethers). Turns out he’d forgotten he invited me. He was dressed as a doctor. The night turned out to be one of the most fun I had during my Columbus tenure. My husband is a great dancer and “Dr. Perry” and I danced the night away. Although I had to field tons of annoying people who thought I’d actually WON Ms. Franklin County (why would I come dressed as something I already was?!), but I guess I should be flattered at the authenticity of my costume. That was the first night I saw Darrell Perry as a possible hang buddy. Not somebody I could date, but definitely worth spending more time with. He would later change that. Like my Halloween costume fooled everyone in the party that night, he fooled me. I thought he was in one category but he proved to be on a whole other level. Soon, he single-handedly redefined what I thought I knew about men and about me. All of a sudden short was the new tall, thick was the new ripped and cute as a button was the new fine as heck!!!
The next October, my husband lured me to a restaurant where 30 of my closest friends and family awaited while he got on bended knee and asked me to be his beauty queen. He’s still my doctor. The surgeon who reconstructed my idea of love and healed my heart. I thank God in Heaven for Halloween. I know, not exactly the holiest of holidays, but October is month I will always celebrate – the novelty will NEVER wear off.