I was told there would be a wizard. Apparently they always have a wizard—a real, certified wizard—at the Bad Juju Party to help revelers purge any cosmic, karmic stink that's accumulated over the previous year. Partygoers (at least a hundred), wacky on "Juju Juice," gleefully dump tainted mementos into a blazing, red-hot cauldron of redemption: photos, panties, stacks of unemployment receipts ("Is it okay to burn these? Because do I need them?"). One five-year veteran swears by the power of Bad Juju–incineration: "I think it works, because I have nothin' to burn this year. My juju is all good." Anyway, the wizard did not show up. He was, the friendly hostess explained, at a "wizard conference." In Bali. Instead, there would be a "surprise."
As the ceremonial burning began, I found myself standing next to the best, drunkest lady ever. "How would you burn child abuse?" she asked. "I'm sorry, I'm just always thinking about child abuse. I work with abused kids. I'm actually a mortician by trade. Yep. I just embalmed some lady—put her head back together." "How did she die?" I asked. "I don't know—must have been a stroke or something, because they autopsied her head. You know what, though? She was left out too long, because she was starting to decompose. I worked on Kurt Cobain! You guys wanna see some porno?" She pulled out her phone. "Here's a woman with an eel up her hoo-ha. An eel! Oh, here's my nephew—isn't he adorable?" "I think for the Bad Juju, maybe you should burn your phone," someone suggested. Just then, the "surprise" arrived: a skull-draped, hooting witch doctor. We fled.
Want The Stranger to run in fear from your house party? E-mail the date, place, time, and party details to firstname.lastname@example.org.