It feels like my birthday is always two days before Halloween; it happens every year, I can’t explain it. Because of this, I’m acutely in tune to the minutia of Halloween costumes and the attributes that separate glory from catastrophe. I peaked too early, though. Senior year of high school I went to school as a shower, a la Danny Laruso in Karate Kid. There was no way I was gonna top that.
Lately, I’ve become too stressed out by the whole process of choosing a costume. There are too many choices. Do I make or do I buy? Do I go with something ironic? Do I choose something classic? If I wear the same costume I wore last year, will anyone notice? If no one notices, does that mean my costume last year sucked? And most importantly, am I thinking too much about my Halloween costume?
Therefore, to help me organize my own thoughts, I’m presenting a list of Halloween “Dos” and “Don’ts.”
DO embrace current events. The Republican nominees would make a great group costume. Also embrace regional identity. If I were still in Boston, I’d get three other guys together, carry a case of beer and a bucket of fried chicken and go as the Red Sox 2011 starting pitching lineup. Someone — anyone — please do this; I’ll even loan you my Buchholz T-shirt for the weekend.
DON’T get overly excited and opt for a dead Osama Bin Laden or Muammar Qaddafi. Trust me, it’s not gonna go over well. Yes, the fake beard and turban will be offensive, yes, the bulls eye will be taken in poor taste, and yes, ladies, you will regret waking up next to a deceased terrorist on Sunday morning. Story of my life.
SERIOUSLY DON’T go as a slutty Bin Laden.
DO go for a traditional theme if you can’t figure out anything else. Ghosts, goblins, ghouls vampires, skeletons and whatnot. It will get the job done, just don’t expect any compliments.
DON’T overdo it. My friend Daniel, who is a very tall man from Switzerland, dressed up like a vampire, complete with makeup and fake teeth. He tried to scare me on the stairs and then thankfully reassured me, inaudibly through rubber teeth, “Ben! Itschth ME! Itschth ME!!” The guy’s Swiss, I can barely understand him anyways, let alone with rubber teeth.
DO embrace your own personality. For example, if you are somewhat professorial, then Sean Connery from Indiana Jones will go over really well for you. In a recent study by graduate students at Cornell University, 66 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “Your Halloween costume is a reflection of the person you wish you were” (n=3). Last year I went as The Most Interesting Man in The World, because I wish my personality were so magnetic I couldn’t carry credit cards.
DON’T expect that your Halloween costume will fundamentally change who you are.
In connection with the preceding point, if you are outgoing and kind of goofy, then you can get away with wearing a child-sized pumpkin costume. In contrast, if you are generally shy and reserved, then going as The Situation isn’t really going to work out.
DO develop an awareness of your own body. Snooki doesn’t work for everyone.
DON’T buy the ironic T-shirt that says “costume.” They ought to make some algorithm that limits the sale of those so there can only be one at every party. You don’t want to be the second guy to walk in wearing the shirt, it’s not a good look.
DO have an actual costume. I went to a Halloween party once and a co-worker was there with a piece of tin foil molded around his head and a leaf sticking out the front of it. “Jamie,” I told him, “I have to admit, I don’t really get your costume.” “Oh yeah, it’s not really anything, I just kind of put this thing on my head and took this leaf from in front of my house.” That’s not a costume, it is indecision. Which, by the way, would make a great meta-costume.
DON’T keep dressing up like a Star Wars character. CNBC.com published a list of the season’s hottest Halloween costumes, and Star Wars was still near the top of the list. How is Star Wars still a popular costume? You’ve had like thirty years to dress up like Chewie!
DO dress up like a slutty ewok.
DON’T expect to get very far with Princess Leia.
DO make anything that is not supposed to be slutty slutty. Slutty Milstein Hall, for example, is perfect.
Having outlined all these criteria, I have no idea what I am going to be for Halloween.
Ben Koffel is a grad student in the College of Architecture, Art & Planning. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Come Again? appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.