Costumed couples

When a girl dresses as a Barbie for Halloween, males and females alike understand that, however fabulous Barbie may look in her tiny outfit, this is just a tacky costume. When a boy is brave enough to dress as Ken he is bordering on ridiculous, and is definitely at risk of being attacked by an angry mob of zombies, pirates and soldiers. When Barbie and Ken hook up in a couple’s costume, the tackiness is increased exponentially. You can almost taste it.

A similar phenomenon occurs when a couple dons the pimp-slut and doctor-nurse combinations. These matching duos make me very angry. And I know that I am not alone in my feelings on the subject.

There is something sickly sweet about couples whose everyday clothing matches. At no point in any relationship will anyone be able to convince me to wear matching polo shirts. I refuse to be “that” couple. And, until very recently, I was of the firm opinion that all couples themed costume attempts, however well intended, were “icky” — like rotten fruit or marmalade, too sweet for its own good.

And then I saw something that would change Halloween forever. Walking hand in hand through the mall with my boyfriend, I noticed a Luigi hat. For anyone who hasn’t played a video game in their life, Luigi is a tall, skinny man with a heavy brown mustache, blue suspenders, white gloves and is partial to the colour green. As a fan of Luigi’s performance in every Mario game ever, I took the hat off of the shelf and immediately purchased it. As I was swiping my debit card, I noticed the red Mario hat sitting next to the empty spot where the Luigi hat had been — for those of you who don’t know, Mario is Luigi’s slightly older, slightly fatter brother. He is fond of red.

“Oh!” I squealed. I turned to my boyfriend. “Oh, please can we go as Mario and Luigi for Halloween? Oh, please–please–please?” I still don’t know what possessed me.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

I purchased him the Mario hat anyway, and I will manage to persuade him to don the costume before Oct. 31.

Looking back on this mildly embarrassing incident, I am convinced that I am not transforming into a cheesy, lovey-dovey, slightly crazy girlfriend. Not all couples costumes have to be horrible. In fact, I am now certain that some costumes can transcend the tacky and reach a new level of Halloween awesome.

I have decided to chart out some reasons that couples’ costumes fail. How does one avoid unimpressed glares and instead garner the praise of their peers?

First, the typical couple’s costumes have to be abandoned. Everyone can do better than Ken and Barbie. However clever it may have been when it was first designed, the plug and socket costume is not adorable or clever: it is ridiculous. The same goes for the knife and fork routine.

Second, sex appeal doesn’t work in this department. The females always seem to end up as bodacious but unnecessary sidekicks: a cop and a sexy cop, a football player and his sexy cheerleader, an inmate and a sexy inmate — by the way, there really is no such thing as a sexy inmate. Lingerie doesn’t seem to work here either.

Finally, originality appears to be paramount. There is a fine line between terrific and terrible. There have been some amazing couple’s combinations. I saw a couple dressed as Juno and Paulie and rejoiced; once, a couple painted their entire bodies in an electric blue and went as a Smurf and Smurfette; I once saw Pac-Man and a ghost arm in arm.

Dressing up as something else, just for one night, is liberating, invigorating and an opportunity to be something you are not. If you can expertly weave two costumes together, the experience can be made that much better. For those of us spending Halloween with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a good couple’s costume can be a lot of fun. But please, for the sake of the holiday, steer clear of the obvious stumbling blocks where hundreds of people trip up every year.
If I see one Ken-Barbie pairing, I promise to pummel you myself.
You have been warned.