Trick Or Treat, III

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I did my research and saw that, for the last two years, Halloween columns were titled "Trick Or Treat." So guess what? That means I'm more or less obligated to write a cheesy, holiday-inspired column for you-for the sake of tradition, of course.

Halloween always reminds me of that one episode of "The Simpsons" where the radio deejays accidentally kept playing "Monster Mash" on Valentine's Day. But that's just me.

What Halloween should remind you of are the happy-go-lucky days of your childhood. It was the one day where adults had to indulge you with candy, no strings attached. All you had to do was put on a cheap, plastic costume, the kind where the holes for your eyes and nose never quite matched up with your real eyes and nostrils.

But, once you get to college, Halloween gets a little ... complicated. We're at a weird age, straddling the line between childhood and adulthood. We're a little too mature for silly costumes and trick-or-treating, but not old enough to ignore all the fun festivities.

Or are we?

How does one resolve the conflict between maturity and immaturity on Halloween night? Through costume choices, of course! You need to attain a very delicate balance to get it just right. But some costumes you see in college don't quite cut it.

Some people try to take the easy way out with vocational costumes: medical scrubs, Subway uniforms, old karate uniforms and paper hats from In-N-Out. These costumes aren't pretty, scary, witty or fun. They're just boring. Someone wears this stuff every day, and the one day you get to be something different, you want to be a Krispy Kreme employee. Way to go.

Some people try to sex up their costumes. I once went to a party where there were "sexy pirates." Slutty nurses and French maids aren't anything new. But, adding the "sexy" label-and actually announcing to people that you're a "sexy something"-attaches a stigma of "not-so-sexy" to you for the rest of the night. Once you've announced that you're the "S" word, you're opening yourself up to judgment from very critical eyes as to whether you're worthy of the label. Only the hottest should attempt these types of costumes.

You're bound to see some intellectually pretentious costumes here in Berkeley. "Isn't it obvious? I'm the Wife of Bath from Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales,'" or, "I'm Sir Humphrey Davey who discovered the element Barium. Duh!"

These costumes require way too much thinking, and only 2 percent of the population will actually get it. (Although, that's what you probably want, isn't it?)

So, where can that delicate balance be found?

I realize that, as college students, there just isn't much time to put together good costumes. Halloween manages to sneak up on you in between midterms. That's why most of us end up with lame, last-minute costumes: taping signs to your chest that say "I am a semi-colon," wearing bunny ears or just weird, crazy clothes that don't really add up to any kind of identifiable costume. I wish I had a dollar for every girl wearing fairy wings on campus today.

But Halloween only comes once a year. Each year you decide to pass it up is one less year you get to go nuts before you suddenly find yourself all grown up. So be free, find your lost inner-child and indulge in the silliness of Halloween. When else can you say the "Hey, that's a scary costume!" joke to your friend who didn't bother to dress up?

Since I have space, here's a creepy story for the road. My friend swears that this happened to him:

He and a friend were sitting in a car at night in front of his house, having a long conversation. When they finally went inside, his friend checks her voice mail and hears their own voices; it was part of the conversation the two of them had in the car earlier in the night ... when it was just the two of them in the car. They searched the car for a phone or microphone, but didn't find anything. Freaky.


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