The most successful Halloween costumes are classic but topical, sexy but funny, not too ugly and not too obscure, perfect conversation starters and ideal photo-ops. I am not telling you this because I am a Halloween genius with wisdom to spare. I am telling you this because I have spent 29 years failing at Halloween. I have never been cooed at, kissed, or celebrated for my wit and style on Halloween. In fact, each Halloween has been more demoralizing than the last. Men have it real easy in the Halloween department. They can wear a beer helmet or a rubber Nixon mask and call it a fucking day. While women are meant to be both transformed and adorable, a near-impossible combo for most of us, men can use Halloween as an excuse to let their guts hang out and be celebrated for it. But the standards for women are Harvard-admissions level, even harder if you're single and need to factor in something with a snap crotch. My lack of Halloween success started early. When I was four, I told my parents I wanted to be a mermaid-fairy for the Washington Market Park Halloween Parade, and this is what they came up with.