You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Costuming Calamities

Halloween approaches, bringing with it dark, unseemly images of terror - disturbing, cruel, frightening visions of the spectral, occult, and perverse - and that's just the costumes.

Costumes are a common theme at Halloween and one of the things we can learn from a close study of the holiday apparel of our peers is what to avoid. Here are some important tips for choosing your Halloween costume:

  • Don't drink and costume. Many people like to imbibe alcohol during Halloween (or any holiday, or for that matter any day they are conscious). However, you don't want to be under the influence until after you've chosen your costume. Otherwise you might make a mistake like this one:

    Whoops! Sorry, that's just Lady Gaga out for a night on the town. She only dresses like she's drunk out of her mind. By the way, Gaga, Sally Field called and she wants her Flying Nun hat back.

  •  Don't wear food. It's been years now since 9 and 1/2 Weeks came out and since then we've learned a great deal about food-borne pathogens, including the interesting fact that uncooked food in close proximity to the less hygienic parts of the human body is a quick recipe for projectile vomiting. Unless one of your friends is dressing as Linda Blair from The Exorcist, this sushi costume is a bad, bad idea.

    Plus, where exactly do you put the wasabi and pickled ginger? Won't that sting just a bit?

  • Don't dress your kids as food. This is extremely creepy just by itself, but with the potential for an invasion of mindless, brain-dead, flesh-eating zombies growing ever more likely (judging from shows like Jersey Shore and Keeping up with the Kardashians) the last thing we want to do is to put our kids out there, dressed as appetizers.

    Instead, stick to traditional cuddly, unappetizing Disney characters, or superheroes - just in case the zombies retain a vestige of human memory and decide it's not worth tackling Batman Jr. or Supergirl.

  • Fake muscles are pathetic. If you have to wear them, you're just telling everyone you don't have real muscles. Unless you're going for pity, scorn, or getting beat up by a bunch of young toughs dressed as characters from Twilight, skip this sad choice.

    Additional advice: Skip dressing up as characters from Twilight, who are next up the scale to get beaten up (by young Harry Potter toughs).

  • Avoid mixing and matching. If you're going to go for a costume idea, try to keep it focused and uniform. Trying to meld two different concepts together only dilutes them both. You can't be both Spock and a Werewolf, or Harry Potter and Donald Trump, or Liberace and Dracula:

    Sure it's frightening, but at what terrible cost to the wearer's psyche?

  • Size matters. No, we're not referring to costumes involving public nudity or dressing up as body parts. (Reminder: Even in our current libertine society, it is highly offensive to dress as Steven Tyler's or Mick Jagger's lips.) Rather, we want to remind you that articles of clothing should be the correct size for the character. Sure, if you're doing Chaplin you need shoes that are too big, or if you're dressing as a vapid, reality show character, you need a bathing suit three sizes too small. However, for most costumes the appropriate size will keep you from looking like - regardless of how cute you may be otherwise - a dork.

  • Finally, speaking of dorks:

    This demonstrates that common sense remains the most fundamental necessity in making a costume choice. Otherwise, you too may wind up looking like a big gas bag that people want to sit on.

Happy Halloween!