Halloween’s latest trick: What can you wear?

by | Oct 30, 2016 | Detroit Free Press, Comment | 1 comment

“Hey, kiddo. Aren’t you trick-or-treating?”

“Grandpa. I’m 11.”

“You’re still a kid.”

“I can’t find an appropriate costume.”

“Pretty big word for a grade-schooler. You could always do what we did. Get some old clothes and go as a hobo.”

“Grandpa, please. Homeless people have feelings. That’s an insult to their community.”

“Oh. Well, another thing we did was get a feathered headdress and go as an Indian chief.”

“An Indian chief? Why don’t I hang a sign from my neck that reads, “cultural stereotype?”

“How about a cowboy?”

“You mean the occupiers of the American West?”

“Have you been talking to your sister at college?”

“How did you know?”

“Wild guess. What about a mariachi singer?”

“Insulting to Mexicans.”

“A bullfighter?”

“Insulting to Spaniards.”

“Well, the safest costume is always a clown.”

“Are you kidding, Grandpa? Dressing like a clown today is the fastest way to get arrested.”

Outfits and outrage

“Is your younger sister having trouble, too?”

“Yeah. She wanted to go as Pocahontas.”

“That’s great, right?”

“If you call oversexed stereotypes ‘great.’ ”

“What about a queen?”

“So they can label her an imperialist?”

“I guess the chambermaid costume is out.”

“Wrong on so many levels, Grandpa.”

“Where are you learning such judgments, kiddo?”

“Well, Susie says her college has been warning students about offensive costumes. They even put out a threat meter so you can judge. She sent it to me. See?”

“It’s got lots of lines and arrows.”

“I know. Like, if your costume has a mask, that raises your threat level. If you’re trying to be funny, that raises your threat level. And if you’re going as someone from another race or ethnicity, you have to first determine if that group has less power or has been marginalized by your group.”

“How do you do that?”

“I dunno. I’m only 11.”

“Sounds complicated.”

“I know, right?”

“Couldn’t you just go as the fat man?”

“And insult the weight-challenged?”

“Dress up like a lady?”

“And insult the transgendered?”

“A burglar?”

“Criminals have feelings, too.”

“There’s always a ghost.”

“Oh, right. Put a white sheet over my head and cut out some holes. I’d be the laughingstock of YouTube.”

Not just about the candy

“You know, kiddo, maybe you and your sister are being too sensitive.”

“Not according to a protest group at her college. They say everyone is entitled to feel safe.”

“Halloween costumes threaten safety?”

“Marginalized individuals are tyrannized by the majority in subtle ways that reinforce cultural unfairness.”

“I didn’t get that.”

“Me, neither. I’m just reading a flyer.”

“Well, all I know is when we were kids, nobody worried about offensive costumes or hurt feelings. We just worried about how much candy we were getting.”

“Yeah. About that candy…”


“It’s really not good for kids. People should give out healthy stuff. Like celery sticks.”

“Celery sticks?”

“Or radishes.”


“They’re high in fiber.”

“Listen, kiddo–”

“Wait. I’ve got it! I’ll go as myself.”


“It’s the perfect costume. It’s low on the threat meter. It doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. And after all, like they say at Susie’s college, what’s most important is that you celebrate yourself.”

“Oh, boy.”

“Well, I’m off. It’s gonna be great and inclusive and non-offensive and guilt-free trick-or-treating. Want me to bring you a radish?”

“No. Just some extra strength aspirin…”

Contact Mitch Albom: malbom@freepress.com.

1 Comment

  1. Theresa Ramus

    Cute and funny article on Halloween today.
    Happy Halloween.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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