Choose Your Own Misery: The Halloween Edition!

**Play along as a tasteless, slightly dense office drone in this Halloween helping of misery**

Tomorrow's the day: your office's annual Halloween costume contest and potluck.

Which you wouldn't necessarily care about-there's something even more awkward about the conversations you have in the break room when your coworker is stuffed into a too-small superhero leotard-except for the prize for the winner:

A free personal day for the best costume.

You must win this contest.

It's decided by vote, so the real question isn't which costume is best, it's which costume your mostly-inane coworkers will vote for. Last year Gina, the receptionist, hand-sewed a photo-perfect Gone with the Wind ballgown, and curled her hair up like Vivian Leigh's, and even affected a southern accent all day, but Alex, your office love, and Morgan, your nemesis, still won with their "Jay-Z getting attacked by Solange" outfit. Alex's tux wasn't even the right color, and Morgan had on boxing gloves-it was frankly ridiculous. And they gave out two days off, which is totally unheard of.

But it won, that's the important part.

Clearly your office mates like the edgy costumes. You just need to pick the right one.

You could go as your boss. A few years back someone won by going as Sharon from HR simply by gluing at least a case of Parliaments to a dress. You'd have to play it up; just wearing the right suit clearly won't be enough.

Or you could go the Jay-Z and Solange route and push people's buttons a little: as Bill Cosby, complete with a pudding cup full of pills.

If you want to go as your boss, click here.

If you want to go as Cosby, click here.

There's edgy and there's edgy. Maybe you should avoid the "dozens of rape counts" costume, just to be safe.

Plus, getting a "your boss" costume together will be easy. You already own a double-breasted suit and loafers. All you really have to do is buy a pair of cheap reader glasses at Walgreens and slick your hair into the right position.

* * * * *

The next afternoon, your boss calls everyone into the lobby.

"Time to show off the, uh-uh-uh, costumes," he says. "We'll vote once you've had a chance to see all the entries. First up: Morgan!"

Of course he's given the prime opening spot to your nemesis, Morgan, who has opted to dress up as zombie Amy Winehouse. Jeez, Morgan, way to be dated.

Morgan starts belting out a few verses of a zombie-themed version of Rehab.

"They tried to make me go to rehab but I said, 'brains, brains, brains.' "

You wince. That's just painful. Oh well, at least you've got Morgan beat.

Morgan steps aside and everyone politely claps.

"Let's put our, uh-uh-uh, hands together for the next contestant," your boss says.

He calls your name.

You see a few people scratching their heads as you step forward. If they can't guess the costume on their own, you stand no chance of winning.

Of course you could make it really easy for them. All you'd have to do is mimic your boss's stupid nervous laugh.

But then again, he is standing right in front of you.

If you want to mock your boss's subconscious, possibly compulsive behavior, click here.

If you just want to wave your mug around and mumble something about reports, click here.

If you want to win, you can't take half-measures. You have to go further than anyone else.

You have to go as the rapingest man around.

You swing by the Goodwill after work and find a striped dad sweater and a pair of ill-fitting corduroys. Then you head to the grocery store for some pudding cups, raid your expired meds to get a good mix of different shapes and sizes, and boom: you've nailed it. Sure, you don't look anything like Bill Cosby, but if you slick your hair back it's close enough. Judging by that Solange outfit, people don't care about verisimilitude, they just want the shock-factor.

You don the outfit the next morning and head into the office. No one mentions the costume-in fact, no one even seems to notice.

"Didn't get in the spirit, SNRCK?" a yellow-skinned Debby says in the break room. She's wearing overalls, a bald cap (also painted yellow), and a pair of goggles. The resemblance to a Minion is overwhelming. But also extremely upsetting.

Though not as upsetting as Debby thinking this is you in normal clothes. You're fashionable, right? Jesus.

"No, I...well, you'll see later."

At two, your boss calls everyone into the lobby for the contest.

You grab the pudding out of your messenger bag, pop the top, and sprinkle the pills all over it.

"So glad to see so many of you participated in this year's little, uh-uh-uh, contest," your boss says, looking around the room. "Anyone who's signed up will now have a chance to, uh-uh-uh, strut their stuff for us."

You start practicing your Cosby voice under your breath.

"It's a sleepy-time puddin' with the sprinkles and the Jello," you whisper Cosbily. "It's a special-tastin' puddin' for the ladies who like the sprinkles." Which is the best option?


You turn. Cynthia, from accounting, is standing there, squinting at you through her wire-rimmed glasses, every inch of her looking pinched and dried out. She's like a living prune.

"Hey, Cynthia."

"I just wanted to tell you before you make everyone as uncomfortable as I am, that I think your costume is in extremely poor taste."

"Listen, Cynthia, Halloween is all about having a sense of humor, and-"

"I have been personally affected by this scandal and I think your costume creates an unsafe office environment."

Thank god you don't work in accounting. You would have suicided way before now dealing with her every day.

If you're going for it, fuck Cynthia, click here.

If you want to play your costume off as something else and apologize, click here.

"Thanks, uh-uh-uh, everyone," you say. "Happy, uh-uh-uh, Halloween, uh-uh-uh."

Maybe you're laying it on a little too thick?


The room erupts in laughter. Your boss's face goes beet red.

"Okay, uh-uh-uh, settle down, uh-uh-uh. We need, uh-uh-uh, to talk about social media strategy, uh-uh-uh," you continue.

Wow. Debby is literally crying she's laughing so hard, her wet snorts alternating with guffaws in an unnerving, engine-backfiring way. Your boss smiles constipatedly.

"Well, uh-uh-uh, enjoy the, uh-uh-uh, dip I brought!" You wave and walk off. Nailed it.

A few more coworkers come up, but no one gets near the response your impression did. You vote after everyone has had their turn.

"Looks like the clear winner is, uh..." your boss swallows awkwardly, eyes bugging slightly, then he says your name.

The next week you go into your boss's office to let him know you're planning to use that personal day you won. You're gonna get SO drunk tonight.

"Not possible. If anything, I need you to work overtime this week."


"Also, we'll need to talk about your performance from yesterday's meeting. It wasn't... uh-uh-uh, good," he says, adding extra emphasis on his laugh.

Shit. Looks like you've won this costume battle, but once again lost your entire-work-life war.


Your heart races as you contemplate openly mocking your boss.

No. There's no way you can go through with it. You'll have to see if you can get your coworkers to cotton on with one uh-uh-uh tied behind your back.

"Good morning everyone," you start. He says that, right? "Ummmm, make sure those reports are on my desk in the morning."


"Remember, Friday is a half day," you add. "Think about ROI."

"Are you... Al Gore?" Gina sounds confused.

You shake your head.

"Oh, wait, are you Madeleine Albright?" asks Morgan. "Madeleine Albright liked double-breasted suits, didn't she?"

"Uhh...maybe? But no, I'm not her."

"Ohhhhh... I get it! You're dressed up as him," Debby from HR says with a weak SNRCK, moving her index finger back and forth between you and your boss.

Your boss frowns.

"You got it!" You smile wanly.

A few people clap and you hurry back to your spot.

"Well, uh-uh-uh, that was interesting," your boss says. "Moving on..."

Once everyone has shown off their costumes, you all slip your votes into the plastic pumpkin head. Your boss counts them out in front of everyone.

"Oh, and one vote for the, uh-uh-uh, 'me' costume," your boss waggles an eyebrow at you. "Apparently some of us voted for ourselves."

Your colleagues stifle chuckles.

You didn't, but the accusation feels like salt in the wound of no-extra-days-off.

You knew you should have gone uh-uh-uh, hard if you wanted to stay home.


"I'm sorry you feel that way," you say, turning away as though you're interested in Morgan's truly terrible Amy Winehouse impression. Jesus, Morgan, dated much? Zombie Amy Winehouse was the tasteless costume of 2011. At least you have that beat.

"If you insist on going through with this, I'll be forced to-"

"Up next, uh-uh-uh, we have," your boss squints at the sign-up sheet and calls out your name.

"Like I said," you whisper, "I'm sorry you feel that way."

You head up. At first people stare, obviously unsure of who you are.

"Hey, colleagues, who wants a puddin' cup?"

Anthony gasps, then snickers.

"Havin' fun as a fam'ly," you say, really hitting your Cosby stride. "With the puddin' and the sleepy-time pills!"

"Ohmygawd it's, SNRCK, BILL COSBY!" Debby doubles over in wet, snorty laughter.

A few coworkers join in...

...but a few others are frowning and shaking their heads.

"All right. Uh-uh-uh." Your boss has on a 'dear god, who just farted?' look. "Up next is Anthony, our IT a wizard!"

You wait impatiently through the last few costumes. You have to have won, right? Who else could it be, Gina as Joan Rivers? Talk about tasteless.

Everyone deposits their votes in the plastic pumpkin head. Your boss quickly tallies them up.

"And the winner is...uh-uh-uh, it's Morgan! With zombie Amy Winehouse! You guys like it edgy, huh?"

What. The. Fuck.

You feel a tap at your shoulder.

You turn and almost shriek. Sharon looks like a piece of beef jerky on a good day, she really shouldn't put corpse paint on top of that relief map of smoker's wrinkles.

"My office," she croaks. At least she's talking the same as always.

You walk in. Cynthia is already sitting there, looking more pursed than ever.

"So. Cosby, huh?" Sharon raises a penciled-on eyebrow.

"Well ya know I love the puddin' and-" Sharon glares. You gulp. "I'm sorry, I just thought it was in good fun. Edgy, sure, but, you know...a laugh..."

"Did Cynthia speak to you about this before the contest?"

"Well she was vague..."

"But she did mention her discomfort."

"Well...yes." You'd lie, but she's right there.

"I'm going to have to write you up. If a coworker makes it clear that a situation crosses personal boundaries..." Sharon drones on. How could this day have gone so wrong? You planned it perfectly.

"...probationary period," Sharon concludes.

"Thank you," Cynthia says, looking like an especially triumphant lemon-sucker. "My aunt's elementary school friend's trauma really shouldn't be made light of."

Oh fuck that.


Well fuck. Doesn't Cynthia process your paychecks?

And is the entire marketing team singing backup vocals for Morgan as zombie-Amy right now?

You have to give it up. The free day off would be amazing, but it's not worth another after-work sensitivity seminar.

"I'm so sorry, Cynthia, I really didn't mean to offend anyone. Here, let me throw this away." Reluctantly you drop your pudding into the garbage can. "I won't enter the contest if it means upsetting my coworkers."

Cynthia nods, looking down her long, thin nose at you.

"Next up..."

Your boss calls your name and starts gesturing you over.

Well shit.

You walk towards your boss and look around. What else could this costume possibly be?

"I'm, uh...the dad from...Growing Pains? You know, the Alan Thicke character., that's the kid. Boner? No. No, that's...uh...Jason! Yes. Jason Seaver."

Morgan raises a painted-on eyebrow and leans towards a neighbor to whisper loudly.

"None of the panache of Alan Thicke in that getup."

You grimace, throw your arms open, and walk back into place.

Unsurprisingly you don't take the prize...or any votes, actually. But Zombie Amy Winehouse winning? What a crock. That was tasteless years ago. Your coworkers are all brainless sheep.

You head back over to Cynthia. May as well lay it on thick; you already threw the game, you definitely don't want a penalty, too.

"I just wanted to apologize again. I truly didn't mean to offend you."

"Yes, well, I appreciate that. My aunt would appreciate that."

"Oh, was your aunt one of, I'm so sorry." An aunt raped by Bill Cosby, huh? Cynthia's more interesting than you thought.

"No, not my aunt. Someone she knew."

Okay, that connection is getting kinda tenuous.

"A close family friend?" you offer. Maybe they were one of those families that all hung out together for every holiday or something.

"No, a girl she went to elementary school with. At least until the girl's family moved away in the third grade. I think that's what Auntie Lois told my mom. She could only see part of the girl's facebook profile without friending her."

Oh fuck this. You knew you should have gone full-Cosby.


Loved this mini-adventure? There's much more where that came from in Choose Your Own Misery: The Office Adventure, now available for pre-order!

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