When it comes to Halloween, I tend to lump adults into two categories — those who never lost the childhood excitement of dressing up and those who cringe at the thought of dressing up and attending a costume party. Count me squarely with the cringers.
For me, Halloween hell is a mandatory dress up costume party. Granted, it may have something to do with a lack of creativity on my part. However, it may also have something to do with not wanting to look like a goober all night long, unless of course your costume is a goober, in which case well done you.
Don’t get me wrong… I love a good party. What’s not to like about hanging out with people you know, meeting folks you don’t know, imbibing and engaging in witty banter that gets progressively wittier as the night and the imbibing march along responsibly.
However, something happens when you insist that all your partygoers don a costume. The dynamic changes. Now, instead of having a room full of interesting and fun people, you have a room full of people wearing stupid costumes trying to be interesting and fun.
I mention my hatred of costume parties because just this past weekend the PWB staff gathered at the annual Big Boo Bash down at Buzzy’s 8 Ball Lounge. The previous week, in lieu of working, the interns researched a number of costume possibilities. They did this because our receptionist, a woman known more for her nails than for her office management skills, instructed them to select a theme for the PWB costumes to be designed for the Big Boo.
In years past the bash wasn’t about costumes, although those so inclined were free to dress up. Priest and nun outfits, political characters of the moment and anything involving a hockey mask and chainsaw were the norm. It was a comfortable, bipartisan mix of patrons in costume and those sans getup. Or so I thought.
Apparently, after last year’s festivities, the costume lobby began a year long campaign to make this year’s event a costume mandatory affair. It seems that the costume partisans resented the fact that not everyone felt the need to dress up and walk around in character all night long. It wasn’t enough that they dressed up; they decided the rest of us needed to conform.
The campaign worked, primarily because Buzzy has no spine, and a sign went up announcing that heretofore, all patrons attending the Big Boo would need to wear a damn costume. Buzzy, it should be noted, dressed up like a spineless jellyfish.
So this is what it’s come down to… a society where idiots dressed up in costume can force their will on those of us who just want to go to a party without putting on some underoos and pretending to be Spideyman. What a load of crap.
And here’s something that strikes me as odd, although mind you I’m not criticizing the trend. Down at Buzzy’s, and I’m guessing around the country wherever folks gathered for Halloween gaiety, women dressed up as “sexy” versions of whatever they were supposed to be.
By way of example… one woman propped up at the bar near the pickled egg jar wasn’t dressed up as a police officer, she was a “sexy” policewoman. There were two women dressed as “sexy” witches, three dressed as “sexy” pirates, one in a “sexy” maid outfit and several sporting the very popular “sexy” Gov. Palin garb. There were even four women in one group dressed as prostitutes. They arrived with a guy who, I guess, was supposed to be the pimp but looked more like Elton John. Kudos to the four women for picking up on Senator Obama’s admonition to spread the wealth around.
Regardless, the sexy turn on the traditional costume thing did leave me asking, what the hell is that all about? Followed by the question, do some of these women have a mirror near their front door? There is obviously a gender hardwiring issue at play… a substantial portion of women taking the opportunity to dress up in ways that otherwise might draw frowns from friends, neighbors, employers or perhaps their children. Notice I didn’t include husbands or boyfriends in the frowning spectator list.
To confirm my theory that Halloween is trending sexy, I asked intern Three to carry out some research at a local party and costume supply super center. Using nothing more than a clipboard, a pen and her keen eyesight, Three reported back that of the 30 or so female costumes available, 16 of them either had “sexy” in the label or were clearly not appropriate for a Halloween party at Mitt Romney’s place. That, if I’m not mistaken, is somewhere in the region of 50 percent. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how statistical research is carried out.
At the same time, do you know how many of the men’s costumes were labeled either “sexy” or could be construed as such? Correct, none. In all my years as an adult, I’ve never heard a guy say “… ya’ know, I think this year I’m dressing up as a “sexy” Nixon.” No “sexy” Rambos, no fellas sporting “sexy” soldier outfits. True, we’ll probably have some “sexy” Joe the Plumbers this year, but only if you find plumbers butt sexy.
While women all across the country are getting their sexy on in everything from Palin outfits to Batwomen costumes, very few men will be putting together their “sexy” Joe Biden look. It’s a male-female thing that surfaces once a year along with pumpkins, candy corn and Elvira. The missus spends a month organizing her “sexy” cat woman outfit, while her husband gets up from the sofa five minutes before launch, puts a bag on his head and goes as a condom.
I believe it is similar to the way in which men and women shop for greeting cards. I have known women capable of spending their entire lives standing in front of a card display searching for the appropriate card that says just the right thing in a unique, mass produced kind of way. For men, the only concern is making sure the card comes with an envelope that fits. I know a guy who bought his wife a car for her anniversary but forgot a card. She still talks about his insensitivity. A car, I crap you not.
Anyway, faced with a mandatory costume policy, the PWB interns declared a moratorium on actual productive endeavors until they could cook up a costume scheme that everyone in the office was happy with. I suggested we all go as Obamatrons… we could walk around all night in our best stiff-legged zombie fashion with little toy unicorns and fairies sewed to the seats of our trousers like so many happy promises flying out our butts. That wasn’t approved by the costume committee so I went back to being surly.
Finally, Bobo emerged from the conference room and announced the winning plan. Everyone got busy over the next few days and when the Big Boo arrived, we marched into Buzzy’s proudly dressed as… “sexy” nonconformists. No costumes, just fancy clothes for a night on the town. It took a little explaining at the door, but once they realized we weren’t just avoiding the whole costume thing but instead had devised a clever theme, we were the toast of the lounge.
What’s the point? There is none. I’m just tired of watching the country’s plodding march toward election day and thought we should focus on something else for a change. And adult costumes aside, what’s not to like with Halloween and it’s free candy, happy kids and scary stories.
Unfortunately, I suspect that the biggest Halloween scare is coming up in early November when we wake up and find something that’s all dressed up like “sexy” socialism standing at our front door demanding we hand over a few more treats. Just my opinion.
As always, we look forward to your comments, thoughts and insight. Send your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Baker served for more than 15 years as a covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations around the globe. Since leaving government service, he has been a principal in building and running several companies in the private intelligence, security and risk management sector, including most recently Prescience LLC, a global intelligence and strategy firm. He appears frequently in the media as an expert on such issues. Baker is also a partner in Classified Trash, a film and television production company. Baker serves as a script consultant, writer and technical adviser within the entertainment industry, lending his expertise to such programs as the BBC's popular spy series "Spooks," as well as major motion pictures.