Illustrations by Sam Taylor
Summer is officially dead and buried and I'm dancing (so sexily) on its grave. Autumn is ideal because I can spend my Saturdays watching 18 episodes of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives without that ever-present fear of my mom shouting up the stairs, "It's a beautiful day outside! Get out of bed!" Because it's not a beautiful day and I can stay in bed. I can get Uber rides at a 1.8-inflated fare now, completely guilt free, because the sky looks a bit ominous. I can un-ironically drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes now. I don't care. Autumn rules.
But there is one blotch on the foggy, autumnal horizon: Halloween, Halloween, Hallo-fucking-ween.
As a child, All Hallows' Eve had you traipsing around in the freezing cold, awkwardly knocking on your weird neighbor's door just to get a few bite-sized pieces of old candy they found in the back of their cupboard. And that was when Halloween was good. This year you'll inevitably find yourself at a shitty Halloween party, standing on a sticky kitchen floor, in a ridiculous costume, beneath some glaring strip lights, trying not to eat too many gummy bears while someone plays "The Time Warp" on repeat. Come through from your spectral realm, ghosts, and save us from this hell with a ritualistic slaughter.
Anyway, here is your comprehensive guide to everyone you'll see at this year's Halloween parties.
TV COSTUME GUY
"I'm actually quite unique," he's saying through a Heisenberg goatee that keeps peeling off and getting in his snakebite. "I'm an 'off the wall' type of guy, you know? I got into left-wing politics a bit more this year. I love Frank Ocean's music. I probably spend too much time on my phone—naughty! My favorite food is a burger and I'm on a mission to find the best one in town, but nothing's going to top DuMont, is it? DuMont really is excellent. Sidenote: I think Breaking Bad is fucking great!"
Yeah, we all do, pal, because we're all the same. You're not different or special, because we're all just exactly the same homogenous pieces of shit. You've essentially come in costume today as "every single 25-year-old dude's bio on Tinder, all at once."
There will be at least two guys dressed as Heisenberg this year, and they'll bump into each other at 15 minute intervals throughout the night and shout: "I am not in danger, I am the danger!" at the tops of their voices, before conversation instantly dries up and they shuffle away to try to instigate games of beer pong. Do not say their name, no matter how much candy meth they offer you.
At every party there's the mandatory few girls who didn't get the Mean Girls memo from 2004 and are subsequently dressed as a sexy cat, sexy devil, or some kind of erotic fairy. Everyone at the party hates them, yes, but they're the only people who ever end up having any post-party sex, so every cloud has a silver lining, I guess.
Becky, Becky, and Lindzi-with-hearts-instead-of-dots-on-the-I's have kept up a WhatsApp group thread for the past three weeks to discuss their costumes in minute detail. You'll find them in the living room, mainly, bickering over the iPod and sloshing around to Little Mix's Black Magic. They speak exclusively in a lingua franca of compliments about each other's costumes, bodies, and eyebrow makeup. One of them will pretend to bite the other's neck for an awkward amount of time while the fairy struggles to open the camera app on her phone. They keep going quiet for 20-minute periods while they consider which Instagram filter is the perfect combination of spooky and hot.
POST-PRETTY MEAN GIRLS
Tina Fey has made it almost impossible for any girl with a conscience or more than two A-levels to dress as a sexy [insert noun] without also being clothed in a layer of guilt, so thanks for nothing, Tina Fey.
That said: anyone who took high school biology will tell you that survival of the fittest is about being able to adapt, and some more evolved girls have managed to do that in their quest to remain hot. Here are your options, babes: Natalie Portman circa Black Swan; a Day of the Dead Mexican bride; Disney princess with an inevitable twist. That's it. So, tbh, you may as well just go all in and be a hot cat.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Dressing up as characters from this twisted tale seems to have become a kind of idiot's rite of passage, like mastering how to juggle, or listening to only gypsy-electro-swing music for the entirety of sophomore year of college. What they're trying to communicate to you is they absolutely luv literature, guys, but—more importantly than that—they are totally into mind-opening drugs.
"Yeah, I've been down the rabbit hole once or twice," some dude called Hugo is saying. "Let's just say that when I was down there, I did three tabs of acid, smoked some pretty sweet green, and danced all night. Absolutely blotto!"
Someone in a Mad Hatter costume will spend the night boasting about how he's consuming something a bit stronger than tea at this party (it is drugs; he is talking about taking drugs), and by the end of the night the dusty hat that he fishes out annually from from the top of his wardrobe will double as a vomit bucket, Tweedledum and Tweedledee tasked with desperately getting him into his Dad's Audi. The rabbithole ends here.
Recently, traditional costumes—your witches, your vampires, your pumpkins—have become a rare sight. Anyone who tags a friend in a Fat Jewish Instagram post or has ever taken a BuzzFeed quiz knows they have a "wicked" sense of humor and want to quite literally wear it on their sleeve.
For instance, there will definitely be a boy dressed in a bad taste costume. Just know this now. He's a member of ISIS. Or Jared Fogle. Or the Ebola virus made flesh. Or, keeping it super current, Lamar Odom in a coma. He is almost clinically desperate for people to comment on his outfit. You can see him itching for someone to clock his outfit and say this exact word: "Ooh." He's the guy who hides around the door yelling "BOO!" at people. He's the one lacing the punch. He is a prick.
Thing is, he isn't alone—and soon a loose tribe of them assemble in the garden. Donald Trump is fucking David Cameron's pig's head, Katie Hopkins is pinching a cigarette off Netflix and Chill. The eggplant emoji is trying to break into the shed. And you think, slowly at first—quietly, but then it gets louder—you think: maybe we don't need every single human who is alive right now. Maybe we could stand to lose a few people, to death.
THE NO COSTUME DICKHEAD
Some bro named Dean has turned up in his work jeans and T-shirt, and, to get into the spirit of things, accessorized with a dollar-store mask. What have you come as, Dean? "Ogre or summat," he says.
He's drinking a room temperature can of Guinness. He lets all the pores in his face fill like buckets with sweat, then discards the mask and let's someone sit on it. Why aren't you dressed up any more, Dean? "I am dressed up, aren't I?" he's saying. "I've come as a psychopath; they look like the rest of us. That's what's scary—they could be anyone."
THE TOO MUCH COSTUME DICKHEAD
Every year there are a couple of people who go the extra mile for Halloween, usually utilizing at least one cardboard box. Maybe a girl dressed as a milk carton with her head pushed through the cardboard as the missing person. She's proud of her get-up, but you can't help but feel a bit depressed, imagining her every day after work, schlepping boxes up the stairs to her top floor apartment and nearly breaking her hand as she tries to scissor the thick cardboard into submission. She's the type of person who, in a decade, will have a wedding full of lollypops, paper doilies, and homemade soaps. She probably plays the ukulele and organized the office bake off. Also, she won't drink at the party because "if I get this high on the E numbers from all these sweets, imagine what I'd be like with alcohol!"
The answer is: Really Into Crying.
But as the evening progresses you see her in the line for the bathroom, staring enviously at the sexy cat, and you can't fathom how she'll manage to piss. At the end of the night she'll attempt to get into an Uber, alone, frustratedly yanking at her ginormous costume. Her energy depleted, her sugar rush over. A decade of silence later, you receive a hand calligraphed invite to her wedding. How did she find you? How does she know where you live?
Oh no, don't look. No, d– don't. There's a werewolf and a zombie flirting in the kitchen. The pair insist to all of their friends that they don't like each other. "What?!" they're saying. "We're just friends. Can't a girl and boy just be friends?!" But now they've got horror masks on, it's like they're flirting with other people, and they're all over each other.
The girl takes her mask off and the guy goes, "Now, that is scary—put the mask back on!" She hits him softly on the chest. He gnarls his werewolf hand gloves at her. "You're in for it now." Hold on, is he... no, don't look—he's mischievously forcing marshmallows into her mouth? Is this a blowjob thing? She's just draped herself over him and asked, "Trick or treat?" He's doing that "hiding an erection walk" upstairs. The next day, the girl who lives in the single room finds a clump of werewolf hair on her pillow and a used condom in her trash can. The horror.
There are two distinct types of people who dress as superheroes: if they come as The Incredible Hulk or Wolverine, it's most likely a football player who uses Halloween as a flimsy excuse to show off his bulging muscles, the male version of a Mean Girl. Like an animal, he'll predatorily mark his prey, but instead of pissing on them he smears the hot girls with his green body paint. It works, though, so fair play.
The second is a self-professed film geek, and Halloween is as an excuse to wheel out his opinions on how CGI is killing the modern horror genre (but he is also very excited about the new Star Wars). He's the type of guy who still likes Fall Out Boy, still pulls his sleeves over his thumbs, and has a girlfriend who has changed her name on Facebook to "Sarah 'Sparkledust Unicorn' Evans." He ordered the cape weeks ago from a specialty shop online. He gets really annoyed if you step on it, because that cost $200.
But are you really any better? Black jumper and jeans with stick-on bones attached, huh? Skeleton, are you? Legitimately ploughing into Halloween candy? Drunk on a neon green cocktail for yet another year? Night bus home with someone dressed as a Hobbit? Fake blood under your fingernails three days later? Nobody escapes Halloween alive. It is terrible and it is tired and all the horror long ago gave way to memes and the worst parts of our culture distilled into a single night.
But it is an excuse to get drunk and dress like a dickhead, so at least there's that. At least there's that.