Friday, October 17, 2003

Halloween groaners will shake you up

Maggie Downs

I get to dress up. Eat candy. Keep everyone around me a little scared.

And some wonder why Halloween is my favorite holiday.

Growing up, my costumes were always disappointing. I spent weeks dreaming of a magical Halloween transformation into some sort of beautiful vixen - a fairy, a princess or Olivia Newton John.

Sadly, I most often ended up with a discount drugstore box o' costume.

As if the awkward plastic smock were not bad enough, the package also included a mask with microscopic air holes, which had the amazing ability to look menacing and suffocate an innocent child at the same time.

My family's attempts at costume making were no better. I was once a bunch of grapes - purple balloons stapled to a green sweat suit. Within a few blocks, I was not only lost but popped.

Another year, I dressed like my dad. An oversized suit with a plush pillow for a rump. Immense horn-rimmed glasses. Wild hair. Most neighbors mistook me for a bum - one of the crazy ones at that. Perhaps it was the way I cursed and wielded a golf club in the air.

And then there was the time I was dressed as a makeshift mummy - my brother swathed me from head to toe in toilet paper and sent me out the door.

Wait. Was that Halloween?

Then I grew up. Attended a college where celebrating Halloween was a legitimate way to pursue a degree. And I discovered the wonderful world of adult costumes.

Some were plain tasteless - An airplane-ravaged Payne Stewart or JFK Jr. A sorority house massacre. Yanni.

Others were OK, but boring. Guys dressed as Hooters girls. Girls dressed as sexy whatever.

And there was always that guy who put an empty Keystone Light box on his head and slurred, "Hey, I'm a case of beer? Get it? Beer! Woo doggy!"

But a special few were far more original.

And that's where I come in to help you. Because we can't have a bunch of cardboard-box heads waltzing around Cincinnati on the most important night of the year.

So whether you're attending Paramount's Kings Island's Fear Fest, HallZOOween or a friend's holiday bash, here are some costume ideas that are so easy it's scary:

• Cut a big hole in a cheap bedside table. Put that around your waist and figure out a way to keep it there. (Hey, I'm a writer. Not a construction wizard.) Put a lampshade, slightly askew, on your head. And there you go - it's a one-night stand.

• Pull out those sequins and your favorite stuffed tiger. Fling a little fake blood on your neck. You've instantly become everyone's favorite Vegas showman - Roy!

• You're in luck if you're a little bit bigger than the average. Simply take a white sheet, cut a couple eyeholes in it and chuck it over your head. Just like that, you're Antarctica.

• No white sheet? Don't fret. With blue, you're the Atlantic Ocean. Pink, enormous cotton candy. And black ... um ... you're night.

• Grab some dark glasses and a cane. Toss a set of Venetian blinds over a friend's head. Hold hands. You're the blind leading the blinds.

• Fasten random clothing items to your own regular clothes. Toss a few softener sheets on there, too. Now you're static cling.

Bonus: All night you can affix yourself to whomever you want without having to apologize.


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