"What's the matter? You seem agitated."
"Every year, the wife and I and the neighbors dress up for a Halloween bash. But the wife won't let me buy a costume this year. She says our dough is so tight I have to make my own."
"There's no shame in that. Some of the cleverest costumes are homemade. They can be satirical and mock current events."
"That's what I thought. I figured I'd mock our lousy economy by dressing up as a hobo. I was going to wear old, torn clothes, but the wife put a stop to it."
"She stopped you because it would be rude to make fun of people who live on the streets?"
"No, because I planned to wear my regular clothes. I haven't been able to afford a new pair of pants since the economy tanked in 2008."
"Surely you have other satirical ideas to choose from."
"I came up with an idea to poke fun at the falling dollar by dressing up as a large bill and then falling repeatedly to the ground, but the wife didn't like that, either."
"That would be a wonderful way to mock out-of-control government spending, which is killing the dollar's value. How could she not like that costume?"
"She figured that I came up with it so I could consume adult beverages all night without her finding out. It's hard to slip anything past the wife."
"Sorry to hear that."
"I tried some other angles. I told the wife I was going to dress up as the U.S. economy. I was going to wear a downward-pointing red arrow that repeatedly falls flat on its back, but the wife figured I came up with that one ..."
"To conceal your consumption of adult beverages?"
"You're good, pal. By that point, I figured I'd try something simple. I decided to shape my hair into a mullet and pretend I was an '80s pop star, but the wife wouldn't go for it."
"I haven't been able to afford a haircut in two years and my hair already looks like the mullet of an '80s pop star."
"Since you already have a frumpy mullet haircut and clothes that are old and torn, perhaps you could toss on a suit coat and go as a Wall Street banker-beggar? You can satirize the billions in handouts we've given to the biggest beggars on the planet."
"I may be broke -- I may have a frumpy haircut and wear torn clothes -- but I have my pride. I'd never want to pretend I was anything as low as a Wall Street banker."
"Well, there has to be some costume you can create yourself that is fun and funny and that makes some kind of interesting point. Maybe you could go as the future? You could wear a nice suit and tie and pretend government avarice is under control, the economy has recovered and you finally have a high-paying dream job!"
"Or I could wear my frumpy mullet haircut and clothes that are torn to show that the future could continue looking like the present -- at least until the government stops hindering the economy and preventing the recovery from getting real traction.!"
"All right, then, how about this: Why don't you dress up as an unemployment counselor?"
"An unemployment counselor?"
"It may not be the most glamorous costume in the world, but can you think of a better way to pretend you have a job?"
Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.