Sunday, October 26, 2003

Judge Elliott has left the building.

Matt and I did a murder-mystery dinner last night. It was a pre-packaged program where everyone attending was assigned to be either a suspect, a witness or a detective as we all worked to figure out who whacked 1940s mob boss Don Leonardo Linguini. I was Judge Elliott Witheringlare, Sr., "the finest judge that money can buy" and a victim of blackmail at the hands of Don Leonardo's mistress.

The evening had all the promise of being a totally cool event, but it just didn't work out that way. Everyone in the room got a HUGE character fact sheet beforehand with way too much info to memorize. All the suspects had frustratingly similar names like Frank "The Enforcer" Linguini and Carl "The Killer" Linguini, which made it difficult to keep all the characters straight in your head. We were encouraged to show up in 1940s or even character-specific clothes -- which many did, but one freak-ass family showed up in store-bought Halloween costumes including Scooby-Doo, Spongebob Squarepants and Harry Potter. There was a really good but really loud jazz combo drowning us out as we worked the room trying to chat (yell, really) with other people to get clues and piece together the mystery. The whole event took place in a private party space in a cheesy Italian restaurant with all the charm and ambiance of a 1960s hospital waiting room. And the food was horrible.

There were some funny elements, though. Since characters were assigned randomly to people as they registered to attend, we ended up with people of all ages and races playing brothers. Matt, who is black, was a Mexican drug lord. One guy's elderly aunt was played by a pretty young thing whom he described as "hot" to the whole room when he was being interviewed. And pretty much every man involved in the mystery was having an affair with the Canary sisters, and the two women assigned to play these paragons of moral turpitude were really good sports about being the butt of every slut joke known to man.

Matt was able to figure out which (Name) "The (Nickname)" Linguini was the killer, but I was totally clueless. But since Matt was checking out the event as a possible company outing, his office paid for the whole evening -- so my pathetic inability to follow along didn't cost me a dime.

Something odd struck me, though, as we were leaving: If we were both accused of a real murder that took place last night, would the jury find our ironic murder-mystery dinner alibi plausible?

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