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Teri Cadeau: Guidelines for choosing a Halloween costume

Teri Cadeau

A few weeks ago, I packed up my life and moved across town. While packing, I found my stash of costumes from the past few Halloweens. With so much tumult in my life this year — moving, job changes, car problems — I haven't taken the time to plan out my costume, which is a bit unusual, as I love dressing up for the holiday.

While looking at my old costumes, I came up with a few costume guidelines for myself this year, which I thought I'd share.

Go niche, but not too niche.

"What are you supposed to be?" This question used to frustrate me. As a child, and a few times as an adult, I had the tendency to pick costumes that weren't instantly recognizable. I always dressed up as someone I wanted to emulate from a book, movie or TV show. But not everyone consumed the same media as myself and my family.

So when I dressed up as Tomb Raider or Josie from "Josie and the Pussycats" in junior high, I was always asked the question.

The most recent version of this problem emerged a few years ago when I dressed up as Agent Peggy Carter.



As I explained several times that day, Agent Peggy Carter is a character from both the movie "Captain America the First Avenger"and the very short-lived TV show "Agent Carter." She was a British and American crack agent who worked with superheroes, but her skills were grounded in reality. She was confident and worked hard to make a name for herself in a mostly male dominated field. And she wore a beautiful red fedora-style hat. She was my favorite fictional hero.

Throughout the day, no one knew who I was. But later that night, when I visited my parents and helped pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters, I got my moment. There was a girl in a Princess Elsa costume who said she liked my hat because it "looked like that one lady from TV."

OK, so maybe that only counts as half, but I took it.

Generic can be fun, but be prepared to dance battle your doppelganger

While I was in college, I found a bright yellow banana costume on sale. The possibilities seemed endless with this costume. I could wear pajamas over the banana and be a "Banana in Pajamas." I could dress in black pants and white shoes and walk around singing "It's peanut butter jelly time!" (That's an old internet meme, for those unfamiliar).

But what a-peel-ed to me most was the chance to slip in banana puns throughout the night of the Halloween dance.

I had a grand time at the dance. Finally, I had a costume that needed no explanation. When it came time for the costume contest runway walk, I jumped at the chance. I walked the runway to the edge, then jumped up and down while yelling "It's peanut butter jelly time!" which got a big laugh.

But as I walked back up the runway, another banana was waiting for me. I couldn't be sure, but it felt like this guy was just waiting to show me up. When I faced him, I pulled out some dance moves and he danced back at me before passing me and walking down the runway.

I was disappointed and felt like I was no longer the top banana. Neither of us won the costume contest and the banana costume went back into my closet.

Don't cop out

While I normally love dressing up, there have been times when I've taken the easy route.

For a Halloween dance last year, I didn't take the time to develop a costume. I wore my regular clothes, my usual fedora and jacket and carried a notepad.

When a friend mentioned that I hadn't dressed up, I replied, "No, no, I am. I'm a newspaper reporter!"

It was weak and felt wrong and just thinking about it makes me want to renew my commitment to dressing up this year. I'm not 100 percent certain what I'll be quite yet, but it'll be better than last year.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. 

(218) 834-2141