While some lament the end of summer, others -- like me -- welcome the crisp air that fall brings. Those first cool days tell of great things to come: pumpkin picking, the special kind of quiet that descends on cold Sunday mornings, wool socks, great feasts, and, of course, Halloween. Halloween is an event: the official kick-off of the holiday season, a chance to step out of your skin and become someone else, if only for a night. And while off-color costumes are part and parcel of All Hallow's Eve, I'm here to declare that there is a distinct line between cheeky and offensive, and Hurricane Harvey Halloween costumes are not OK.
It seems like every year we have to have this conversation: there are some costumes that should just stay ideas, if that. Ideas that never get so much as a, "Dude, what if I--?" Ideas that should stay in the dark of your mind and never see the light of day, much less a party. That includes Hurricane Harvey Halloween costumes.
Costumes nodding to current events? Yeah, sure. Off-color costumes? Cool, why not? Go ahead and poke fun at the powerful people who could stand to be taken down a peg.
Just take heed of a comedy rule-of-thumb: punch up, not down.
This is a basic principle of comedy. (Good comedy, anyways.) Think about who deserves to be made a punchline and who doesn't. Go after the people above you, the people with power. That's punching up.
Dressing as victims of Hurricane Harvey (or Irma, or Maria, or earthquakes, or any other disaster, natural or man-made) is punching down as low as you can get.
When I was in college, the off-color-but-still-funny costumes were Dick in a Box and Spiderpig. (Yes, I know I am dating myself, but so be it.) Those were two costumes that said, "hey, I know things that happened this year" without, you know, making fun of marginalized and/or disenfranchised folks.
Costumes that hurt or mock people who are suffering? No. Please, please, no. And the idea that there will be people who try to make Harvey-related costumes isn't a stretch: Only a few years ago, a woman dressed as a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing. There were Hurricane Katrina costumes not too long ago.
Halloween costumes are a fun way to get creative.
But no matter the occasion, it's not okay to laugh at the expense of others -- especially others who have lost everything.
People died as a result of Harvey, and many more lost their homes. Houston is devastated and will be recovering for years to come.
If you absolutely have to, for whatever godforsaken reason, do a Harvey-themed costume, you could focus on elements other than the destruction wrought by the storm.
How about Inappropriate-Outfit Melania Trump?
Put on your highest heels and most expensive pants and carefully wobble your way to the house party where you'll inevitably hover around the candy bowl and keep your balance by grabbing onto strangers.
Or dress up as Donald "What A Turnout" Trump.
First: Bronzer. Lots and lots of bronzer. Then slap on a big hat emblazoned with "USA" on the front. And a rain jacket to round out the aesthetic. To drive home the point, walk up to groups of people and just start shouting about the extraordinary size of the crowd. Yell, "What a crowd! What a turnout!"
When someone inevitably says, "What?" just say, "We love you" and walk away.
Or maybe the angry cat who was just pissed it had to swim through the flood waters.
You know the one.
Just buy an orange cat kigurumi, draw some tabby stripes on it, and either soak it in water before you leave or coat the ends with vaseline (which, I swear, washes out). At any rate, make sure you look wet and straggly. And you wouldn't be Flood Cat without looking downright pissed off. So make sure you frown in the mirror and trace your frown lines with eyeliner.
Turn an umbrella inside out and go as a weatherperson who is, for some reason, outside during a storm.
Buy a cheap umbrella, and turn that ish inside out. Put on the rain jacket you bought for your Donald Trump outfit before you chickened out. Make a microphone out of aluminum foil. Bring a spray bottle full of water if you're really committed, and keep your jacket (and your face!) nice and wet.
When people try to talk to you at the party, hold one finger to your ear and yell, "I'm getting reports that Jessica is asking how the semester is going. I can say this, Tom: not well. It seems to me that the waves of homework are getting bigger and bigger -- and this is just the beginning. An absolute disaster."
Cover yourself in bottles of Coke and Diet Coke.
This isn't a costume idea, per se, but Coca-Cola is allowing you to use the rewards codes on your bottle caps to donate to the Red Cross for Harvey relief.
So just, like, use fishing wire and sew a bunch of coke bottles (empty or otherwise) to a sweater you don't really care about and go as that. Then donate the money afterwards.
If people are like, "What are you?" just say, "Seriously? You don't get it?" Then walk away. Works like a charm.
An even better idea: go as literally anything else.
Wanna dress up with your ~squad~? There's a guide to that.
See? You can have fun, be an edgelord, and not offend myriad people with your poor choices. Everyone wins! Now go put together your angry cat costume while enjoying a pumpkin spiced latte.