An Existential Pug contemplates his Halloween costume

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The following is brought to you by my dog Buster, aka Existential Pug.

I’m not dressing as Frank from “Men in Black” again[1].

For starters, there’s nothing worse than being trite, or predictable. I understand that it makes the costume arrangements easier for The Blonde Woman and The Gray-Haired Man: They can simply wear black suits and ties and sunglasses, then use me as the centerpiece for their ridiculous couple’s costume.

Their indolence sickens me.

And who said I identify with that dog anyway? So we’re both pugs, and there’s nothing that makes us distinguishable? It is the height of insolence to assume that all pugs look alike.

Maybe to homo sapiens.

However, we are our own beings—our own unhinged, solitary souls drifting alone in this senseless chaos.

The Blonde Woman and The Gray-Haired Man assume I’ll be happy dressing as Frank again. And seeing that I don’t possess the necessary anatomy—the human tongue or mouth or lips—to form their words, I suppose I can’t use their fallible language to suggest that they both indulge in acts that are anatomically impossible, either.

Maybe if they asked me what I wanted, or offered me some cheese—cheddar, American, gouda, I don’t care—as a gesture of goodwill, I might consider demeaning myself for a second straight year.

So maybe I’ll dress as cheese, instead. But if I were cheese, would my insatiable appetite force me to devour myself?

And what would happen then?

Perhaps, I’d become my own Nietzschean god, making my own rules and choosing my own costumes. I can only imagine the amount of cheese I would consume if were god of my own world.

But if I’m not Frank or cheese or god, then who am I? Even without a costume, I’m never certain who I am, or who I want to be.

For example, the other afternoon, I stood in the kitchen beside The Blonde Woman as she stirred some chili she was cooking in the crock pot. I whined and begged and pawed her leg until she placed a wooden spoonful in my bowl then I ravaged that chili in a nanosecond.

But if I’m not Frank or cheese or god, then who am I?

A few minutes later, I lay on the couch with The Blonde Woman, contemplating a nap, when the chili came back up on me. I coughed a few times then vomited, while simultaneously having a spell of flatulence, and heaved a small pile of puke on the couch cushion.

The Blonde Woman screamed while I mindlessly ate the vomit, which barely had time change form or composition, before I swallowed it for a second time.

Is this who I am? Am I really the type of puking, farting pug who eats chili vomit? Am I being defined by these actions?

I should dress as chili vomit for their stupid pagan holiday this year. And then dress as chili vomit the year after that. And the year after that.

I grow old…I grow old…

Maybe I’ll dress as J. Alfred Prufrock this year—if he were a pug and not some neurotic white guy ogling women at a dinner party. That means I’ll likely need to wear a shirt and tie for my costume…

Oh shit, I’m dressing as Frank again!

I’m exhausted. For the love of God—with the capital G this time—will someone please feed me some cheese?

Oh shit, I’m dressing as Frank again!

[1] I exhausted myself looking at the foliage this week—those Bacchanalian orgies of autumnal colors in the Granite State trees wore me out—so I told my pug Buster that he could write my column. He’s had a lot on his mind. –N.G.


About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: