Published on October 8th, 2012 | by Robert Isenberg2
Who Should I Be This Halloween?
“Your costume is lame.”
This statement is the kiss of death. There is no such thing as a bad Halloween costume. Either they’re great, or they’re lame, and everybody knows that “lame” is 20 times worse than “bad.” A slutty cheerleader at a party may call your costume “bad,” and you’ll laugh in her mascot-painted face. But lame? There’s no recovery. You’ll hurl yourself on the nearest demon trident.
The lamest costume I ever wore was a trench coat, a stocking mask, and a fedora. This was during my stint in Burlington, Vermont, the shittiest place on Earth, and as I roamed from bar to house-party to bar again, people asked what I was.
“I’m Godot!” I exclaimed. “Am I late?”
This was lame because (a) nobody in Burlington has ever heard of Waiting for Godot, nor (b) can they necessarily read, and (c) my interpretation was very high-concept, and ultimately (d) kinda stupid.
One black mark in your Halloween costume career can haunt you for years after. I once had a decent record of Halloween costumery: E.T. (age 4), a Knight Templar (age 9), a Star Trek ensign with red shirt (13), Indiana Jones (28), and, as the most practical persona for late-October weather, a ninja (24), covered head-to-toe in insulating black fabric.
Godot (22) didn’t kill me, but unlike Samuel Beckett, I will not make the same mistake twice.
Unless you’re one of those quirky moms who teach art class at the YMCA, the magic of Halloween wears off. The older you get, the lazier your costumes become. You refuse to sew. You can barely muster the energy to try on greasy wigs at CVS. Even trick-or-treaters get shafted—they approach the door, and you realize you forgot to get candy, and you switch off the light and hide in the kitchen until the doorbell stops ringing.
More recently, I’ve asked myself: Self, who do you actually look like? There’s no easier costume than your own real face. Unless you are painfully ugly, and then—well, hopefully you’re not.
On a good day, this is what I have to work with:
Almost everybody, even strangers, say I look like Simon Pegg. I can’t deny the eerie similarity. I like to think I more resemble the badass Simon Pegg of Hot Fuzz than the anemic invertebrate Simon Pegg of Sean of the Dead, but I must face facts: I’ve never even worn Kevlar.
I once dressed as Vincent Van Gogh (30), which was a total hit—not just because I bandaged my head with a “bloody” rag, but because I look exactly like the famous Dutch painter. Or I would look exactly like him, if I were just a little more emaciated, wild-eyed, and composed in bold impressionist brushstrokes.
Once, in a Downtown lobby, a security guard insisted that I looked like Justin Timberlake. I graciously thanked him for the comparison, and I rode that compliment for weeks. But my [buzz-killing] friends helped me face [address] a difficult [goddamn fucking] truth: I don’t really look like Justin Timberlake, except in the right light, with the right facial hair, and a few tabs of acid. Plus, the security guard was an elder African-American, and it was possible that, to him, all obscenely handsome white guys look the same.
Crazily, I have a striking resemblance to Guy Ritchie. Most people don’t know what Guy Ritchie looks like, or that he looks almost exactly like me:
On that score, though, I’m not a true redhead. Which thankfully puts me arm’s length from Carrot Top, Barbarossa, and National Kick a Ginger Day. I will never be anyone’s shameful stepchild, as far as I can tell. Guy and I share a distinctly Germano-English look—deep eyes, reddish highlights, and non-chins. I pass for a redhead only slightly more than David Carradine passed for… you know… an actor.
Still, no matter how hip or disaffected the partygoers, the lamest costume of all is “I’m dressed as myself,” or “I’m dressed like a guy who looks exactly like me,” or “I’m a serial killer, and I stole this joke from The Addams Family.” All those non-ideas suck serious candy-corn, and there’s no reason to even go out if you’re not going to try. So this Halloween, I think I’ve found the perfect costume. After much soul-searching, deliberation and weeping, I’ve found the character who effortlessly illustrates who I am, inside.