Trick Or Treat: The Four Rules of Halloween Costumes

When my only two customers are middle-aged white guys in golf shirts drinking Johnny Walker Black on the rocks, she was definitely a ray of sunshine. It was a slow at the club last week. I could offer a handful of theories why it wasn’t busier but it just came down to the fact that nobody came in. It happens. Not every night is Marti Gras and you need the bad weeks to appreciate the good ones. Notwithstanding not making any money, it’s fun working slow nights. I get to talk with guests without having to yell over the pianos and sometimes I can make as much money shooting the bull than running drinks for a full club. My two guests were paunchy out-of-town businessmen who were more interested in pile-driving cocktails than talking to me, so I spent the majority of my evening keeping their glasses filled with Scotch and reading my book. The evening was a bust and I was watching time go backward waiting for last call. I figured the night was going to be completely unremarkable until she walked in.

She was about five and a half feet tall but the four inches of black stiletto heels made her seem taller. She wore a mini-skirt that had as much fabric as a cocktail napkin and a form-fitting blouse that was open to her navel. Her short bob haircut was dyed platinum blonde and she had a series of decorative skin piercings along the top of her spine. The most remarkable thing about her was she had perfectly straight and white teeth. A younger, most immature and hornier Ben Raskin would have easily fallen victim to her charm immediately. By all accounts, she was sexy and completely aware that every eye was on her in the bar.

I never got her name but if I found out it was Cinnamon, Jade or Sierra I wouldn’t have been surprised. She looked like she would have been completely comfortable with a stripper pole in her hand and that she has never heard the word “No” before. She was on the arm of a tool bag of a guy in bedazzled jeans and a T-shirt stretched over tight muscles. While her escort disappeared into the bathroom, she approached one of the business guys at the bar and told him to buy her a drink. Sweet Lord, she sounded just like Jennifer Tilly. Her voice was in a register reserved only for dogs to hear. I asked her what she wanted and she said the strongest drink in the bar. No problem. I poured her a shot of Wild Turkey 101 and added it to the corporate credit card. She warned everyone that she could drink everyone in the bar under the table and we should be careful. Sounded like a wager. Thank God, Johnny Electric walked in shortly afterwards to answer the challenge.

I don’t mind hustlers and the businessmen didn’t care about buying her drinks. They were too busy looking down her shirt to care how much she ordered and frankly, I was bored. Her boyfriend was fussing on his cell phone and probably needed a reprieve from her for a few moments. She was telling the guys the finer points of growing up in Payson Utah and I couldn’t help but think one thing: she was the daughter of a LDS bishop. Nobody dresses like that unless they get not enough or way too many hugs from their father. I sincerely hope my judgment about her is wrong and she is busy at Huntsman Cancer Institute curing baby cancer or dolphin AIDS but I am certain she isn’t. More than likely, she was some girl from a shit-kicking small town taking advantage of being young and beautiful. Oh, did I forget to mention that she was completely annoying.

Everything that came out her mouth reeked of an insanity that only self-centered people can get away with. Having never been told to shut up and get back to work, she was free to act as if the world owed her a favor because she was dealt a great genetic hand. I would have put up with her because she was keeping the guys entertained but when she told me to “Chop, chop” with her drink, I told her to hit the bricks. You’re allowed to be a hussy in my bar providing you remember who’s in charge. I made it abundantly clear she wasn’t welcome here anymore. I shushed her away like I was scaring off a raccoon with a broom from a garbage can. She protested but eventually left. At least a raccoon has the self-respect to know when it’s not wanted.

The take away from this woman visiting the bar was that she was wearing a costume. There is no way that was her normal uniform. She put more effort into that ensemble than I have in my previous 37 outfits. Halloween was a week away and yet she was dressed for a costume party anyway. The fact that she looked like she just slid off of a lap dance convinced me she considered her outfit to be appropriate for the evening. Maybe if we were busier but considering it was a ghost town, she really could have benefited with a sweater. I couldn’t help but think that if I ever saw my girlfriend in that outfit, one of two things has occurred: she just got hired at Golden Trails or she is leaving me.

So, with Halloween this weekend, I want to lay out my guidelines for a successful Halloween costume. Too often people make the mistake of my stripper friend and dress willy-nilly for the ghoulish parties they’ll be attending. It is not enough to dress up as a sexy fill-in-the-blank when bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins. You’re not in junior high anymore. You need to have a solid costume and here are the rules to make sure your Frankenstein are a Mary Shelley not a Mel Brooks.

Be Easily Recognized. There is nothing worse than getting to the party in your costume and have everyone come up to you and ask, “So, what are you supposed to be?” What does this mean? It means the average person needs to be able to identify your costume even if they have two cups of jungle juice in them. It takes very little imagination to cut out a couple of eyeholes in your bed spread but at least everyone knows you are supposed to be a ghost. Five years ago, it seems like every fifth costume was a variation of Captain Jack Sparrow. Lame? Yes. Easily identifiable? Absolutely. Dressing up like Austin Powers or a witch doesn’t crack the sound barrier in creativity but at least everyone knows who you are. Taking a bunch of shag carpet pieces and wrapping your body is a great costume if you are trying to be my grandmother’s basement floor but if you’re supposed to be Chewbacca, better wear a name tag.

It was great when we were kids and could go to a Safeway and buy an all-in-one suit that told the world that you are Spiderman or Wonder Woman but as adults, we need to burn a few calories to get a decent costume. The only thing worse than the guy who refuses to dress up for the Halloween party is the numb-nuts who throws on a latex goblin mask and tries to pass off as a costume. There is nothing wrong with raiding your closet and put together a cowboy outfit at the last minute but putting on a three-piece suit and telling people you’re a serial killer is stupid. I don’t care if serial killers look just like us but if you know you’re attending a costume party make sure you put something together. I have always favored wearing a clown suit. Clowns can be spotted across the room and it is usually the scariest thing in the room.

Be Able To Drink Without A Straw. The real reason those latex mask are a horrible costume is because it is damn near impossible to get booze into your mouth without a crazy straw. What’s the point of spending $12 on a mask if you have to keep raising your costume onto your head like a welder’s mask? I will not speak for the rest of you but isn’t the point of going to a Halloween party is to get absolutely blotto, binge eat on candied apples and pass out before you hand out all of the Halloween candy? Any successful costume requires, scratch, demands that you are able to get liquids into your body without some complicated mechanism. The aforementioned Jack Sparrow costume is a dud but there is nothing stopping the wearer from downing a mug of grog while dancing to The Monster Mash. Also, you can’t wear some weird glove or have too many props prohibiting you from shot-gunning cans of beer or Jell-O shots. Fellows, there are going to be a lot of feisty ladies dressed up as a sexy flight attendant and you’ll won’t be making any mile-high clubs if you’re hauling around a bunch of swords. When putting together your outfit make sure you can both carry booze and easily get it into your mouth.

Be Able To Take A Leak. I wish I could speak for the ladies on this point but for the guys, you need to be able to go to the head and not have to make it a complete production. Imagine if you will, you’re at the party, knocking back cocktails and beers and you’ve reached the point where you need to break the seal. If you have to ask a friend to go with you to the bathroom, you have definitely picked the wrong costume. My clown costume is great because I am easily recognizable and I can drink a baker’s dozen worth of brews. However, when it’s time to take a leak, I look like the child molesting clown that I am with my suit around my ankles at the urinal. I imagine for women, this is something that they have been dealing with their entire life and have the forethought to wear something that doesn’t involve a team of production assistants to get them in and out of. I have always thought that the best costume would be dressing up like the Boris Karloff’s Mummy. It definitely fulfills the first two rules of costumes but I would imagine it would be easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to take a squirt in that outfit. The Mummy might be Rubik’s Cube of costumes. With that said, unless you plan on wearing a pair of Depends or get a catheter, make sure you can use the restroom.

Be Able To Take A Cab. This is a new rule developed by my friend, Aron Murray, and I have quickly adopted it to the Halloween costume rules. We were discussing the first three rules of any successful costume and Aron added that function definitely needs to be a part of the costume. We were talking about the great costumes we’ve seen in the past and the one that I always liked was a guy dressed up as Death. He was about nine feet tall with huge flowing robes. He was wearing painter stilts under his suit and had to duck under door jams to move around. It was an awesome costume but there was no way he was hopping in a Yellow Cab at the end of the night. Huge, bulky suits might look great but you don’t want to be bumping into everybody the entire night. You’ll be spilling everyone’s drinks and generally be considered a nuisance for the entire night. Chances are you’ll be breaking one of the first three rules if you can’t take a cab. I can’t imagine standing eye-to-groin with somebody in a bathroom. Seems unsavory.

Per usual, I will be behind the bar on Halloween. I throw Halloween up there with New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day for the gross amount of rookie drinkers out there. It is a really tough night to work and it doesn’t help that I will be dressed as the Incredible Hulk for the evening. I won’t have the tools of the trade that I usually need to do my job. Compounded with the fact that everybody shows up to the club with seven drinks in them, it usually makes for a perfect storm for a rough night. When I wear a shirt and tie behind the bar, people treat me serious and tip appropriately. When I look like a green minstrel show, I don’t expect to people to listen to me or that I’ll make a lot of money. I like the fact that my costume is The Hulk because if I ever get behind slinging drinks, I can just roar out, “Hulk mad! Hulk smash!” This mentality probably won’t work very well if I have to layer a drink or shake a Martini. Having my entire body painted green will be cool at the end of the night when I am taking a Silkwood shower at home drinking a beer (shower beers are the best) but I am nervous about leaving a bunch of costume make-up on customer’s drinks. One of the drawbacks to this line of work is that I miss Halloween parties at friends’ houses and that stinks. In the end, it’s just part of the job. Most people will be hosting parties this weekend but Halloween actually falls on Monday so I will be able to dress up and hopefully scare the crap out of any kids trick-or-treating at my house.

We try to hand out good treats on Halloween. Because there are so few kids in our neighborhood, I try to double-down on the candies—no sense in keeping a ton of candies in a bowl throughout November. I love handing out the treats to kids. If I have to hand out a trick, I’ll probably have to find that girl from Payson.

Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin or follow his Tumblr feed. Become a fan of the Behind The Bar page on Facebook. Send all e-mail questions to

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