Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making the right costume choice

If I may, I would like to direct my words of pseudo-wisdom this week to those who are deciding on a Halloween costume for next weekend's festivities. You're asking yourself, “Ed, what should I dress as for Halloween?” Well, ask no more! Let's start with you adults. What costume will make you the hit of this year's party?

For guys, it doesn't really matter. Nobody really pays much attention to your costume anyway. Unless you are extremely trendy and topical and choose to come as a Gaddafi zombie, you'll just fade into the wallpaper anyway. So wear something comfortable and enjoy! (Now if you do go as a Gaddafi zombie, I'll expect you to send me a buck or two to pay for your inspiration) For adult ladies, sadly unless the title of your costume begins with the word “naughty” you probably won't be noticed either. For some reason, the past few years have seen the increase in adults dressing for the day, but the only requirement for ladies seems to be to show more skin. At least that's what I've been told.

But really, Halloween costumes are all about kids. Since kids are down to the last minute for costume choice, I feel it's my duty to offer tips that will help kids win prizes at costume contests and charm extra candy bars out of those crabby old people. First tip: If there is a group of trick-or-treaters traveling together, have a theme. Dress as M&Ms, but different colors. Maybe one of you can be purple or striped or moldy or something unique, but make sure you have a theme. My wife and I dressed three kids in themed costumes for as long as the oldest would continue to dress up. We did a Wizard of Oz theme, a rodeo theme, etc. Don't laugh. We won costume contests repeatedly.

Second tip: Wear something that adults will recognize. This is important because if the grown-ups don't know who you are supposed to be, all that effort to get the right look will be mostly wasted. When I was a youngster, I had the perfect costume but nobody knew it. I had a leash and harness that was all stiff so it looked like you were walking an invisible dog. At that time, there was a cartoon called Goober and the Ghost Chasers in which one of the characters walked a dog that often turned invisible. So I found a pair of khaki shorts and a khaki jacket, the proper hat and sunglasses to go with my invisible dog prop, and I had THE perfect costume. Everyone would surely be impressed. Except I forgot that everyone else was not spending Saturday morning watching Goober and the Ghost Chasers. So mostly, people just kind of looked at me sideways and moved on. So kids, before you dress like your favorite minor character on a Nickelodeon cartoon show, don't blame me if the candy sack is a little light this year.

Third tip: Dress as something that everybody else ignores. What I mean is that if you enter a costume contest, it seems there are always categories for the event. Some of these categories were set up decades ago when everyone thought it was cool to dress like Matt Dillon or the Lone Ranger, but now if you enter the Cowboys category, you'll have almost no competition! We capitalized on this one year when two of our kids and our dog all dressed as clowns. Nobody else went clown. The family earned first, second, and third. (I don't remember which prize the dog won.) So don't overlook the classic costume choices that adults will look at and remember when they wore similar get-ups. But avoid the sheet-over-your-head ghost look. Nobody is impressed that you can cut two holes in a sheet.

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