Monday, November 09, 2009

Fishsticks for Halloween

Come home and help!” my wife Kara said last Friday, the panic in her voice in direct correlation with the number of toilet paper tubes on the floor in the bathroom, which were strewn about like the bones at the entrance to an ogre’s cave.

Before your parents arrive for a weekend visit, it’s better for everyone if you do everything in your power to maintain the illusion that they didn’t raise a slob. Of course, they don’t really believe it, but nobody really believed that David Copperfield (may he rest in peace, unless he’s still alive) made the Statue of Liberty disappear either, though we all appreciated the effort.

Initially, I was surprised that my folks were going to leave their house unguarded on Halloween. Hell hath no fury like a child denied fun-size Snickers.

“Aren’t you worried about your front door getting peed on or something?” I asked.

“Everyone in the neighborhood has grown up now. Besides, we left some treats on the front porch for the kids or the raccoons, whoever gets there first,” Mom replied. Ever since we told Mom that our son Evan would be dressed up in a Tigger costume for his first Halloween, a zombie epidemic couldn’t have kept her away, though it might have delayed her for a few minutes if the zombies had wanted to see some baby pictures.

While we’d been planning on having my folks arrive on Friday night, they called from the road to let us know that they’d be getting there late in the afternoon instead, setting off a mad scramble around our house to combat the universe’s trend towards disorder, especially in our kitchen.

I ran straight from the garage to the guest bedroom, where I stripped the used sheets off the bed. Since people with new babies are about as mobile as wagon trains with no wheels, we’ve been hosting family most weekends and washing more sheets than La Quinta. We’re still waiting for someone to invent disposable sheets that sit on a giant spool at the foot of the bed, like the paper at the doctor’s office.

On Saturday, we all sat down to watch the Penn State football game, which started out much closer than it should have been.

“Aw, sugar,” Dad said, but not really. Dad hasn’t had to watch his language around the house since about 1994, so he had some difficulty acclimating to our recently instated moratorium on colorful metaphors.

“Maurice, you have to find a new favorite word to use,” my mom said, and Dad looked much the way I used to when getting in trouble for the same thing twenty years ago.

Then Dad smiled, pointed at Evan and said, “Well, how’s he ever going to learn how to watch football the right way?”

When the trick-or-treaters started coming around a little later, the rain was coming down hard enough that only the heartiest of candy seekers ventured up our driveway. It’s a shame that the hot costume this year wasn’t the Gorton’s fisherman.

Ever since our mailbox was filled with shaving cream two years ago, I can’t help but feel that Halloween is maybe three parts adorable to one part extortion.

When an older kid comes to the door, shaving cream can barely concealed under his football jersey, he looks at me as if to say, “Hey, I saw some kids running down the street with silly string and Barbasol cans. It’s a dangerous world out there for a mailbox. If I had the energy from a few extra Butterfinger bars, I might be able to help protect you.”

But for the most part, the kids were overwhelmingly polite. Many of them even seemed to spend their time outdoors studying for their biology exams, as evidenced by the large anatomical drawings they left on the street.

You can smell Mike Todd’s feet at


  1. Candy has nothing to do with it. Your mailbox was in serious need of a good shave.

  2. Wow! Maybe Evan and frequent family visits will whip you and Kara into clean freaks? Then again, I doubt that will ever happen. As long as I've known you, I have never seen you dust or vacuum.

    And I can definitely see your mom making the candy on the porch comment.

  3. Tigger is the way to go! I was that one year as a kid and so was my sister, my brother, my other brother and well I think it was torn to shreds by time it got to the youngest... trick or treating ended at an early age for him.