published Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Looking for the brighter side of a costume obsession

"Yes, it's red, but it's not the right red." "The lapels are the wrong shape." "The zipper doesn't look right." "The cuffs aren't accurate."

Last weekend, my increasingly exasperated girlfriend endured a litany of these criticisms from me as we perused online clothing stores looking for a jacket I needed to complete our couple's costume based on characters from the animated series "Futurama."

A jacket. Nothing more.

"It's just for Halloween. It doesn't have to be perfect," she said, throwing her hands in the air -- figuratively, of course, since they were occupied with holding onto her laptop.

Yes, it was a costume, but it wasn't just a costume, and as far as I was concerned, perfection was a goal worth pursuing.

To be fair, I'm probably in the minority here. According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, 158 million Americans, almost exactly half the country's population, plan to wear costumes this year. The vast majority of those celebrants, like my girlfriend, probably think costumes don't need to be completely accurate, that there's fun to be had with an ensemble that's "close enough."

In her defense, she took my nitpicking in good stride. Her mystification over my obsessiveness was more amused than genuinely irritated, but there was definitely a disconnect there. She accepted that I cared -- deeply, apparently -- about this jacket, but she didn't understand why.

She should have known better, considering her boyfriend is a nerd and a costumer. After hearing about the hundreds of dollars I've spent creating a costume based on the titular character from the British sci-fi series "Doctor Who," it's not like she wasn't aware of my neurosis.

She might not realize it, but she's lucky. I know people who have spent thousands of dollars preparing costumes that are accurate down to the tooling of their leather belts. I could have dropped a rent check's worth of dough on a set of stormtrooper armor. By comparison, scrutinizing the cuffs of a jacket is pretty bush league.

Besides, I think she should be happy I'm not satisfied with the bare minimum. It shows that I'm passionate about something, even if it's not a passion she shares.

And when she's not having to ride shotgun on my pursuit for accuracy, it keeps me out of her hair, and it shows that I think that anything worth doing is worth doing well. That's a trait that applies to relationships just as much as it does to costuming.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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