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The Globe and Mail

Should I wear a couples' Halloween costume?

Dear Mr. Smith: I've just started seeing someone who, it turns out, is really into Halloween. And she wants us to go to a theme costume party. The costumes she wants us to wear are clever (they're, you know, concept costumes) and they go together, which is cute, but not exactly sexy. As you can probably tell, I'm not sure I want to lose my dignity in this way, but I don't want to appear to be an uptight stick-in-the-mud or to hurt her feelings either. Is it worth resisting this, or should I just make her happy and look like a goof for this one night?

I love costume parties, as they're a rare opportunity to realize fantasies. They give you the freedom to dress as you wish you could dress every day: as a shepherd, as a pimp, as a warrior, as a woman, whatever turns you on. They're a shedding of inhibitions.

Of course there is a sexual element to costume parties, as there is to all dress. In fact, there is no point whatever to costume parties without the sexual element. As far as I'm concerned, they are all about the sexual element.

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That's why I deplore the concept costume - the person who dresses as a clever visual pun, such as Global Warming or Facebook or The CBC or A Jackson Pollock Painting or Intersubjectivity.

Sometimes, you do see some clever ones among university students - I once drank with a woman in stripper clothes and a little silver halo over her head; she was the Madonna-Whore Complex - but the concept costume, particularly for guys, reduces you to class clown for the entire evening.

People in those costumes end up getting tired of them and casting off the most uncomfortable elements later in the party, whereas the guy who dresses as James Bond (tailored dinner jacket, replica Walther PPK in a shoulder holster) and the gal who dresses as a Sexy Cop (tight uniform, faux service pistol) can profitably remain in character till the early hours.

So why then waste a (usually) wild party feeling unattractive? And why start off this relationship by taking orders that make you uncomfortable?

Surely that sets the wrong tone for the many conjugal years to come.

Ask Mr. Smith a question, or view the complete archive, at Russell Smith's online advisory service,

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