Halloween, that delectable day when we 20-year-olds all pretend we’re nine again, is upon us. At age nine, we trekked to the rich kids’ neighborhood, decked out in sheets with eyeholes or in football uniforms complete with pads and oversized helmets, because we heard they were handing out king-size candy bars. Our priorities a decade later have changed a bit. Instead of the good old days of cursing the old ladies who hand out mushy apples and dimes or fleeing from the dirty old men who hand out razor blades hidden in oddly-colored white marshmallows, we now head for our rich friends’ rooms to steal their Belvedere and curse the security guards when we can’t sneak into the YSO show. Trick-or-treating even takes on a whole new meaning; at the end of the evening somehow I usually get “treated” with worship services at the porcelain altar.

Of course there’s the all-important question of what to wear. A huge conundrum since that spandex Superman getup we wore in second grade is now a little tight in the seat. And we certainly can’t be outdone by the guy who goes to the costume shop and drops three bills on the Captain Morgan swashbuckling suit. What to do? Who’s our audience? What’s everyone else wearing? Is it time for that costume that makes a grand political or philosophical statement, that “Corporate Malfeasance” getup or that “Dialectical Materialism” outfit? How many people will throw down their Saddam Hussein masks and march home in disgust when they look across the room to see Donald Rumsfeld and the entire Hussein family together as one suite’s attempt at “Favorite Characters from Operation Iraqi Freedom?” Do we go to the party that our snooty literature TA is throwing dressed as our favorite literary character, where everyone has picked the most obscure character from a Dickens novel in an effort to make some grand, pretentious, symbolic statement about our decadent culture? Is anonymity the goal tonight, so that the policeman is forced to issue that public urination citation to “Smoky the Bear?” In sum, how do we combine just the right amount of creativity, uniqueness, accuracy, humor and fantastic hair to make sure we return home with an esteemed guest for a sleepover?

Well, ladies, you have it easy. Just show as much skin as possible, and then you’re perfect. Catholic schoolgirls, Catwomen, French maids and Victoria’s Secret runway models are not only acceptable for the strip club, they top every heterosexual male’s list of preferred costumes. And it’s more convenient for you, the Yale consumer, as either the Salvation Army or Nu Haven can provide your costuming needs. And who knows, ladies, if you pick one of these costumes, you might be able to go as twins with your gay friend Bruce.

Dudes, we’re outta luck. That hobo costume we made from dirty sweatpants and a plaid blazer when we were 14 in order to disguise ourselves while beating up nine-year olds for their candy won’t work this time around. Athletic uniforms are usually a safe bet, although I wouldn’t recommend wearing a crew or wrestling singlet out and about. Actually, that football uniform from age nine might not be a bad idea. Helmet hair might be a problem, but looking jacked underneath a mountain of pads will more than make up for an evening of base coiffure.

So, after that fifth straight game of Madden 2004 (which you were playing for “research purposes” in order to paint your helmet the proper hue and to copy your favorite player’s tattoos) you’ll have your football uniform in order, cleats and all. The eyeblack goes on — which, don’t kid yourself, is really just glorified make-up — and the evening can begin.

After a quick Viking raid of the free food at the President’s House and a few ill-advised stops at the houses past Rosenfeld Hall (Did you ever wonder who actually lives there? Perhaps an investigative column is in order), the night grows more interesting. Will it be a Century Club type of night? Are you traveling Around the World? How many fire alarms will you have to pull to sneak into Woolsey for the YSO show? Will you, the pro football star, commit a felony before the night is over? Or perhaps execute a perfect “conversion” to nail that buzz-haired female rugby star? Or will you be sitting at home accompanied only by a beer and virtual John Madden?

No matter what you decide to do, an evening of ghoulish debauchery is in order. As if college weren’t enough of a fantasy world, All Hallow’s Eve grants us all the chance to rewind our lives back to a time when candy was currency and when playing dress-up was not considered deviant sexual behavior. Relax, because no matter how many sacrifices you may make at the porcelain altar, tomorrow’s the first of the month. You know what that means: automatic direct deposit from the parents. Or in my case, imaginary direct deposit.

Happy Halloween.

Robby Schrum still thinks that certain people make a good couple. Mmmmm, pink. Can you say photogenic?