October 2007

He Says, She Says: Couples Costumes

Author: Keith Kelson, Jean Wharton


Bah…Humbug! Yeah, I know that it’s not Christmas yet, just consider me your handy, dandy October Scrooge. I always get grumpier the closer it gets to Halloween. I’m normally a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, but the closer Halloween gets, the more I’m tempted to move my phaser’s setting from stun.

I hate Halloween costumes. I always have. Most tend to be flimsy over-priced pieces of fabric and so poorly constructed they look like they were assembled in a back alley in Mexico by drunken college students. From Clemson. Check out their mascot’s costume for a visual reference and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Purple and orange? Yikes!!

The super hero costumes are easily the worst offenders. The Superman, Batman and Spiderman costumes that you see folks parading about in during Halloween will make true fans of those characters cringe. Last Halloween, I saw “Superman” in Walgreens, apparently on a cigarette and snack run. Needless to say, I asked the cashier what aisle the kryptonite was on.

But what really gets me riled up and brings out the Grinch in me are the couples who just have to dress up in costumes that scream, “Look at us; were a couple!”

We know that couples exist, and we smile and sometimes go “Awww” when we see certain couples in public together. Especially if the couple is one you can tell have been together for years and are still in love. But the costumes thing? The guy dressed as a doctor and his girlfriend dressed as a nurse. Yawn. The cowboy and cowgirl. Boring. Shaggy and Velma from “Scooby Doo.” Zoinks!

Yeah, I know that couples dressed in costumes sounds like a good idea—just like having a wedding cake made up entirely of Krispy Kreme doughnuts sounds like a good idea. But when you look in your wedding album photos and see that “cake,” you’ll smack yourself on the forehead and exclaim, “Why didn’t someone stop us?!”

I’m sure my lovely counterpart will disagree with me. Jean, like most women, loves the idea of couples dressed alike in Halloween costumes. She thinks that it’s “cute.” Well, let me help dispel that notion with two words: Red Sonja.

I know some of the non-comic book reading public don’t know who Red Sonja is. She was kicking butt and slaying foes way before Xena even got out of her booster seat. Sonja’s skill with a sword is second only to a fearsome barbarian named Conan, but it’s not her skill with a sword that she’s known for. It’s her costume—a chain-mail bikini that’s just a mere whisper.

Most men don’t even know what’s hit them until it’s too late. The lucky ones live to tell the tale. The unlucky ones? Don’t ask.

Red Sonja, you see, is a hottie. A babe. An honest to goodness brickhouse. She’s got a figure that Wonder Woman envies.

Now, what happens at most Halloween parties is that some nice girl like Jean will show up with her fella and they’re dressed alike in some cute costume. Snow White and Prince Charming or Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. You know, cute. The man, being a good sport, plays along, but inside he’s dying. His buddies are in the room dressed as the Osmond brothers, but even they are laughing at him. Then she walks in the room.

She’s probably some Australian volleyball player related to Elle MacPherson, working at one of the many resorts here on the island as an intern. The man at the costume store, being a man and all, was of the opinion that Red Sonja’s costume would be perfect for her.

Chaos ensues, of course, as most of the men spend the entire evening fawning over her. Posing for pictures. Re-enacting battle scenes from the comic book. Pretending to like Australia. Meanwhile Jean and all the other ladies in their cute costumes are fuming near the punch bowl.

So you see ladies, that’s why couples should never, ever wear costumes: Because Red Sonja will steal your boyfriend.


My counterpart may be surprised to learn that I don’t really like Halloween. As a child, the October night always ended with me in tears when my costume malfunctioned and my brother stole my peanut butter cups from my plastic jack-o’ lantern. Halloween night of 1987, I was dressed as Peter Pan, because I was Peter Pan in the school play and I’d returned home from performing ready to hit the streets for trick-or-treating. To my surprise, someone had smashed our family’s pumpkins. So sad… I hate masks. I don’t enjoy being scared. I have never liked horror films. And I would rather hand out candy than be out on the town.

My distaste for Halloween is trumped by my love and respect for clever adult costuming. I’m more into the homemade, do-it-yourself kind of costume as opposed to the store-bought, highly flammable variety, most likely because my childhood costumes were always an altered version of the outfit I wore for the previous season’s dance recital.

Many people come to enjoy Halloween in a more “adult” way during their college years. The blend of alcohol with costumes can be hilarious or fatal, depending on the individual. I’ve seen some great adult costumes over the years, especially when it comes to groups or couples. First of all, couple costumes do not have to be a romantic, outward statement of the relationship. A couple’s costume is made up of two characters. While it could be Romeo and Juliet, it could just as easily be Siskel and Ebert. Just because you don’t have a Jane to counterpart your Tarzan doesn’t mean you can’t find a friend, put your heads together and come up with something original.

I always admire group costumes. Once, I saw six girls dressed up as the Chiquita banana label, and they tied themselves together to be a “bunch of bananas.” For ladies going out on the town, having a group of friends included in your costume attracts a lot of attention (for many girls the sole reason to go out on Halloween), but there is also safety in numbers. Halloween can be a wild night, and sticking to your group is always a good idea, especially if you use Halloween as an excuse to dress provocatively. A costume will start out innocently such as the classic school girl, nurse, maid or devil. But once all the girls come over to get ready for the night, the cute and innocent idea gets tossed out the window as everyone slaps on stilettos and fake eyelashes. In this case, it’s best to be out with a group and try not to get separated from the herd.

If your boyfriend/girlfriend is willing to dress up in a couple costume for the night, then go ALL OUT! It’s most likely a female-driven idea, and with good reason (see the previous paragraph). With such a high concentration of girls out on Halloween wearing fishnet stockings and blond wigs, anyone in a relationship would be smart to brand her man as her own with matching costumes. It will be obvious to all that the Hugh Hefner by the bar is with the Playboy Bunny shooting pool; and when Fred Flintstone hits the dance floor, no one would push Wilma away. Couple costumes are not only cute; they help a girl mark her territory.

I intend to be on my porch handing out candy on October 31. However, if I find someone to play the Caesar to my Cleopatra, I may rethink my plan.

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