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Don’t be a Halloweeny

Observer Viewpoint | Sunday, October 30, 2005

Well, your roommate is wearing a dress and clown makeup, so it must be Halloween again. What’s that? He wears that everyday? Oh. Well, it’s still Halloween today.Halloween follows the proud traditions of American holidays, in that the main focus is the fattening of the American populace. Thanksgiving– Let’s have some turkey. Memorial Day – Who wants a hot dog? 4th of July – Who wants to blow stuff up and then have a hot dog? St. Patrick’s Day – Beer is too a food! Many of these holidays hide their gorging roots behind things like patriotism and green food coloring, but not Halloween. Halloween says, “Screw that, let’s just have everyone everywhere give out candy for free. What, you want costumes? Sure, we can have costumes.”When we were children, we’d gladly apply the regalia of princesses and hobos to get bite-sized Milky Way candy bars, and today, we gladly apply the dress of whatever was cheap at Target in order to go out and consume alcohol, because everyone knows that you can’t drink on Halloween unless you’re wearing something insane people wear the other 364 days of the year.But we all gladly slap on the makeup and rubber masks that make us feel like our face is in the Everglades, so yes, you do need a costume. Nobody buys that “My Costume Is A Poor College Kid” or “My Costume Is A Guy In A Red Shirt.” You’re not fooling anybody, get a costume.But what costume to wear? If you’re a girl, it’s quite simple: take a regular costume, and sexy-cize it. That cowgirl can’t herd cattle unless her midriff is showing and she keeps the sun out of her eyes with her sequin-festooned ten-gallon hat. This nurse can’t change a bedpan unless her white pleather dress is tight enough to restrict any normal human movement. How could this maid, who happens to be French, possibly clean toilets without her fishnet stockings and lace? And this cat, well, that’s just one sexy cat, I’d let her scratch my furniture and then relieve herself in a little box full of sand any day. Everyone knows that Halloween is the one day of the year that a girl can dress like a stripper and get away with it. Alas, my efforts to change the holiday into a month-long celebration a la Ramadan have come up short.For the dudes, proper Halloween costuming may require a little bit more creativity. There is one rule to live by though; any costume that takes over five words to explain is a bad idea. Obtuse costumes are a bad idea for both you and me. For you, you’ll get sick of yelling over party sounds the exact same explanation dozens of times a night. For me, I really just don’t want to listen to you for that long. Put a white sheet with some eyeholes over your head if you’re going to be complicated, then you won’t even need to explain yourself. Even if you do have to explain your costume for the blind and the stupid, it’s simple, “I’m a ghost.”Clever commentaries on big events are good ideas for costumes, but you have to make sure the timing is right. It’s probably a bit too soon for that Hurricane Katrina costume, but the Flu Plague of 1918 is fair game. Also, make sure that your timely costume isn’t too obscure. Everyone can pick out a Monica Lewinsky or a Saddam Hussein, but people may not realize that your costume is a scathing representation of former Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. You still might manage to win “Most Terrifying Mask,” however.A favorite costume idea of mine is just something big and dumb, something that screams “I’M WEARING A COSTUME.” Sure, go as an ice cream cone or a pumpkin. Everybody knows what you are, the garishness of it all makes you the life of the party, and best of all, you get to be an ice cream cone or a pumpkin. With these types of costumes, you don’t have to worry about being clever or too subtle, you are what you are.Some people have problems with Halloween because of its Pagan roots, but I say to these critics, “Critics, if the Pagan religion includes fun-sized packages of M&M’s and Snickers, and I get to dress up like a vampire, hobo, or former Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, heck, I’ll be a Pagan for one night.”Halloween is a great time for everyone involved, but remember to keep it in moderation. Don’t eat too much candy and don’t drink too much if you’re an adult, because nobody, young or old, likes a vomiting Power Ranger. So get out there, boys and girls, and have some fun tonight. Don’t forget your reflective tape.

Peter Schroeder is a senior English major. As for plans after graduation, he is open to suggestions. He can be contacted at pschroed@nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.