Fireside with Mr. Fritsch


by David Fritsch
English Department

Look, I’ve got to level with you: I’ve never been real big on Halloween. I like it okay, I guess, but across the broad spectrum of holidays, it’s pretty close to the bottom of the list.

I mean, it’s better than Arbor Day, but that’s about it. President’s Day? You get a day off. Score.

Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July – all of these, to my mind, are superior holidays. You could maybe argue with Labor Day, I guess, but I wouldn’t do so for very long.

And I love candy. Really, I do. And there are certain Halloween-type candies, in particular, that I’m fond of. The Snickers Bar, of course, in all its various sizes, is the superior candy. Kit-Kats, Mounds bars, those little Hershey bars … Krackels. Man, I love a Krackel every now and again. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-miniature Krackel. Weird.

Peanut butter cups, M&Ms, the non-chocolate Tootsie Rolls, all of these are delicious. Regular chocolate Tootsie Rolls? Ugh. Those little candies in the strawberry wrappers that are filled with that mysterious red goo? Yuck. UNICEF pennies? A noble gesture, but lost on your average nine-year-old. There was a lady in my neighborhood, one street over, who used to give out UNICEF pennies. I don’t think she got much traffic.

But you’re in high school, now, aren’t you? Half of you can have a job. The other half of you are old enough that you have some money squirreled away somewhere, from something. Go buy your own bag of candy. You’re too old for trick-or-treating. Freshman? Maybe. Maybe you can go out. If you have a younger sibling, and your parents ask you to take them around. But probably not.

I remember the last time I went, I was a Junior. I worked at Kroger, and I wore my job uniform. I went to one house, realized that it was asinine, and then went up to the carnival at Jersey Village High School.

That, I’m okay with. Go to a carnival at your local school, or church, or civic association, or something. Don’t go trick-or-treating. Leave that for the little kids.

I remember the first time my mom sent me and my little brother out trick-or-treating by ourselves. I was probably in the fifth grade, my brother in the second. We went a block south of my parents’ house, and about two blocks north. That was enough.

We were dressed as pirates. Mom let us make our own swords out of cardboard. She painted the blades with silver spray paint, and the hilts with gold paint. Then, she let us glue these plastic gems all over the cross guards. Very cool. My brother lost his toward the end of the evening, and then we went home. It was enough.

The coolest Halloween costume I ever had my mom made. I wore it in kindergarten. It was a giant cardboard box, painted red and yellow on the outside, and cut in profile to resemble a container of McDonald’s French fries. But on the front, instead of an “M,” Mom stenciled a big “F” and wrote “Fritsch Fries.” She stapled a pair of suspenders on the inside, and I wore it around all day.

Man, that was awesome. Thanks, Mom. I love you.

I also remember that we had these cool flashlight-things, with translucent pumpkins on the ends so when you turned on the light the pumpkins glowed. A couple of years ago, my mom found it and gave it back to me.

She also found the big hollow plastic pumpkin that I used to carry all my loot, and gave that to me, as well. I gave it to my daughter to use when she goes trick-or-treating. She’s four. It’s okay for her, you’re too old.

I get that it’s fun, and that you’re trying to hold on to the happy memories and nostalgia of your youth. You don’t realize it, but that’s what it is.

As long as you can go trick-or-treating, you’re still a kid, you’re still safe, you can still wander happily through life without caring or being worried about your responsibilities.

But the time comes to put away childish things. You don’t have to grow up just yet. You still have lots of opportunities to do all kinds of things that you’ll never have an opportunity to do again. There are lots of football games, and school dances, and proms, and dates, and all sorts of other marvels and wonders. Enjoy those things now – you couldn’t do them before, because you were too young. You can’t do them later, because you’ll be too old.

The time for those things is now. Grab them, suck the life out of them, and remember them forever.

And if I answer the door and it’s one of you knuckleheads? Halloween is no different than any other day. I see any of you within a hundred yards of my house, and I’m calling the cops.

Happy Halloween.