What Not to Dress Up as on Halloween

Halloween is the one day of the year that people are encouraged to be totally self-centered. No one is asked to praise anything or give thanks for anything. No one has to buy any gifts, other than a cheap sack of candy bars to pass out to neighborhood kids. On Halloween, all that is asked of you is that you carry out the fashion fantasy of your choice. The more horrifying or bizarre that fantasy may be, the more credit you are given for being an intelligent, fun-loving person.

It may not seem to be in the true spirit of Halloween to provide guidelines on what not to dress up as. It's popular these days to be positive instead of negative, to be for something instead of against something. After all, this is America and you have the right to dress up as whatever you want for Halloween. Just keep in mind that everyone else has the right to think you are lame.

It is impossible to suggest good costume ideas in a newspaper column because, once they're suggested, they immediately become terrible ideas. Who wants to dress up in a costume that thousands of people have read good things about?

There are, however, some general guidelines for choosing a good costume. First of all, whatever you are wearing should be both hot and uncomfortable. Walking in your costume should be difficult and dancing should be impossible. It should require a minimum of 30 minutes costume-disassembly time for you to use a toilet.

The quality of a costume can also be judged by how long it takes you to look normal again afterward. If a quick shower returns you to your natural good looks, your costume probably sucked. It should take at least one week for you to get back to normal.

Coming up with a good costume idea may be difficult, but deciding whether an idea is a bad one is easy. Most of the bad costume ideas fall into one category: the unoriginal. Dressing up like Dracula or Satan is way too obvious. Even dressing up like Jesus Christ has been overdone in the past few years. Remember, Halloween is not a time to be like everyone else.

If you are planning on dressing as the opposite sex, keep two things in mind: 1) If you are a transvestite in reality, Halloween should be your DAY OFF. 2) If you are not a practicing transvestite, and are just aching for an excuse to shave your legs or wear a phallus or get off on whatever kink you repress the rest of the year, that's fine. But unless you are dressing up like a specific type of man or woman, your costume might still make people laugh, but couldn't be considered clever at all. The gender-bending thing is more overdone than the wicked witch costume.

Dressing up like Osama bin Laden, by the way, is not only risky and stupid, it's terribly unoriginal. It's hard to say how many people will actually do this, but has thought of it, so give us all a break. It would indeed be a scary costume, and you would get points for being gutsy, but trust me, it's not worth the ass kicking you will receive.

If you dress up like a World Trade Center tower with a model plane jammed in your chest, not only will someone beat you nearly to death within five minutes for your insensitivity, but no one will call an ambulance because they'll be too busy stomping on what's left of your broken body, you tasteless wanker.

If you want to observe 9.11, the best costume would be dressing from head to toe in American flags. This costume is called the Patridiot, and will be cheered all night long.

One final note: Anyone not wearing a costume who says, "I'm dressed up as myself," should be kicked in the kneecap and scorned for a full year.

Paul Lundgren is a columnist for the RipSaw, the news and entertainment weekly of Duluth, Minn.

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