Weaned on Hal­loween

The Korea Times - - OPINION - By Jase Graves Jase Graves (su­san­[email protected]­global.net) is an award-win­ning hu­mor columnist from East Texas. His com­men­tary was dis­trib­uted by Ca­gle Car­toons Inc.

Fall has al­ways been my fa­vorite time of year, not due to the splen­dor of the col­or­ful fo­liage, the crisp breezes herald­ing a new sea­son, or the sa­vory scents of au­tumn that in­spire us to get our pump­kin-spice freak on.

In­stead, what I love most about the fall is that it kicks off a se­ries of beloved hol­i­days in quick suc­ces­sion, giv­ing me an ex­cuse to in­gest my own body weight in pie.

These in­dul­gent cel­e­bra­tions be­gin with glo­ri­ous Hal­loween, an event il­lu­mi­nated by jack-o-lanterns and awash in corn syrup.

My par­ents al­ways went out of their way to make hol­i­days like Hal­loween mem­o­rable for me and my big brother. On Hal­loween night, Dad would take us trick-or-treat­ing through­out the greater East Texas area as we hap­pily sweated like feral piglets and risked as­phyx­i­a­tion in those 1970’s plas­tic sen­sory de­pri­va­tion Hal­loween masks with the rub­ber band.

To this day, Mom and Dad still cap off Hal­loween night with a spe­cial feast of chili dogs and Frito pie — be­cause noth­ing com­ple­ments a gut­ful of candy corn and Snick­ers bars like a hearty serv­ing of pro­cessed meats.

As my brother and I grew older, over­dos­ing on nougat was no longer enough of a thrill for our pubescent sys­tems on Hal­loween, so our thoughts nat­u­rally turned to toi­let pa­per. Yes, the great­est achieve­ment for any teenaged male was to “roll” the trees in some­one’s front yard with bath­room tis­sue, es­pe­cially if that some­one dis­tracted us in math class with her freshly glossed lips and Glo­ria Van­der­bilt per­fume.

I vividly re­mem­ber the first time sev­eral of my fel­low dweebs and I rolled a pretty neigh­bor­hood girl’s house on Hal­loween night. We could barely con­tain our hor­mones as we flailed around try­ing to get a good TP streamer over even the low­est pine tree branches.

I thought my dad was the coolest dude on the planet for haul­ing us there in the mid­dle of the night and even serv­ing as our get­away driver — that is un­til I dis­cov­ered that he had made ar­range­ments with the girl’s fa­ther in ad­vance to en­sure that we wouldn’t all wind up stuffed and mounted over their fam­ily’s fire­place. Even so, it was a thrilling ex­pe­ri­ence that for­ever changed the way I look at Quilted North­ern.

Now that I have my own chil­dren, I feel it’s my duty to carry on the Hal­loween tra­di­tions that are now a per­ma­nent part of my psyche and blood sugar lev­els.

When our three daugh­ters were lit­tle, it was so fun let­ting them dress up as bal­leri­nas, fairy princesses, and var­i­ous car­toon char­ac­ters with ex­pen­sive cos­tume li­cens­ing con­tracts. I still trea­sure the mem­ory of tak­ing them trick-or-treat­ing, help­ing them sort through their candy, and re­mind­ing them that Al­mond Joy bars are re­ally only safe for adults.

These days, my youngest daughter is the only one of my three chil­dren who still likes to go trick-or-treat­ing. Her older sis­ters are now solidly in their jaded teen years — when their re­ac­tion to just about ev­ery­thing I do is “SMH” (“Shak­ing My Head” for those of you who still use ac­tual words) un­less it in­volves my hand­ing out cash.

Last year on Hal­loween night, we were hav­ing an epic late-Oc­to­ber East Texas toad stran­gler, com­plete with an un­nec­es­sary dis­play of thun­der and light­ning. But my youngest daughter and I wouldn’t be de­terred.

I know I only have a year or two left be­fore she, too, will only look at me if I’m adorned with removable $20 bills, so I was de­ter­mined to take her trick-or-treat­ing, even if I wound up drown­ing in some­one’s flower bed. De­spite the weather, we had a great time, and my daughter fi­nally learned to swim with­out hold­ing her nose.

This year, I en­cour­age you to ex­pe­ri­ence the fun of a tra­di­tional Hal­loween. Pur­chase your chil­dren a cos­tume that costs too much, take them trick-or-treat­ing even if it rains, and if you don’t have young kids, you can al­ways have a lot of fun with a jumbo pack­age of Quilted North­ern.

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