The Mittle-man on Campus: Spooktober Special


Illustration Credit: Sydney Fener

Sarah Mittleman

‘The Mittle-man on Campus’ is a satirical column centered around high school clichés and the teenage experience. None of the articles in this column are representative of the opinions of The Chronicle staff as a whole.

Dearest Devoted Fans,

As we jump headfirst into autumn, there isn’t much we can do to avoid slipping into the tired clichés of fall — pumpkin spice, infinity scarves and apple-themed desserts, to name a few. Of course, the cold weather also comes a whole host of romantic tropes, and by now, you all know I’m a sucker for true love. Who doesn’t want to carve pumpkins, bake pies and sip lattes with their perfect match?

While brainstorming for this article, I came to the realization that the month of October is unquestionably unique from the rest of fall—in fact, I’d consider it its own subset of autumn. These spooky, candy-hoarding vibes completely diverge from the other months of the season. Plus, the 31 days of ghouls and witches will eventually coalesce into the most thrilling night of the year: Halloween! I think there’s a way to combine the creepiness of this holiday with the Hollywood romance I persistently seek. The best love stories are so passionate they become homicidal, like the ghoulish tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. So I’ve decided we can save the fluff for November because right now is the time to talk death and doom. I expect every plotline to be October-themed: consider jumping hastily into a relationship with Satan, plotting murderous revenge against your remorseless ex or convincing a ghost to haunt your romantic competition. We’re already halfway through the month, which means it’s time to get sinister.

If you think Halloween is all fun and games, you are sorely mistaken. This holiday is an opportunity for soul-searching—who do you want to be most in the world? How do you want to present yourself? How much candy are you capable of consuming in one night? Halloween is the perfect time to have an identity crisis without people even knowing about it: switch up your style and entire personality for 24 hours, no questions asked.  This can be really beneficial for high school students who still aren’t sure of who they truly are, making it very important to prepare for Halloween.

First, you need to develop the right costume. Now, it’s a simple fact that whatever you choose must make you look attractive; otherwise, what’s the point in putting effort into it? But there’s so much more to your Halloween look than allure. You can transform yourself into anybody or anything with enough skill, meaning you’re going to be judged harshly on what you pick. The best tactic is to subtly ask around and find out what your crush is planning on being, then “accidentally” match with them by coming as that character’s love interest.

Obviously, the next step is to stock up on candy. But just like you can’t wear the first costume you come up with, you can’t go into the nearest Target, buy the first bag of mini-Twix and call it a day. The treats you hand out on Halloween night will determine what everybody in the neighborhood thinks of you, and you can’t be the laughing stock of your street if you want any chance with the boy next door. My advice is to casually showcase your quirkiness in the candy you purchase. An excellent move is to go to an old-fashioned candy store and purchase the most obscure Halloween candy you can find. Just make sure that whatever you pick is a metaphor for your manic-pixie-dream-girl nature.

Get spooky. Come Halloween, tell yourself scary stories in the mirror before you head out for the night. It can be anything, so long as it makes your heart drop, your blood freeze and your stomach churn. The goal here is to prepare yourself to trick, treat and cause mischief wherever you go. If you’re looking for some chilling inspiration, I have a few examples of spooky scenarios to get you in the Halloween headspace. I mean, is it even an edition of “The Mittle-man on Campus” if there isn’t a list?

Warning: The following list contains the most petrifying sentences ever posted on the Internet. Read with caution.

Sarah’s Spooky Scenarios

1. You wear the same outfit twice. It goes without saying: this is quite possibly the most terrifying situation a high school student can be found in. What is our education system if not a fantastic chance to become a fashionista? And is there a bigger waste of an opportunity than failing to pull a new outfit together every single morning? Just imagine the horror on your classmates’ faces when you confidently waltz up in an ensemble that screams “last May.” I confess that I’ve jolted awake at night, drenched in sweat after dreaming of this very scenario.

2. You discover that nobody is obsessed with you. I can’t even imagine being in this situation, seeing as it’s so unrealistic for me, but it would without a doubt give a less desirable person quite a fright! The best part about being a teenager is strutting around, knowing that people are staring at you in awe. If nobody’s spending all of their time fantasizing about being in a relationship with you, your life is likely going to be super boring. And you can’t be the main character if you’re not interesting. Scared yet?

3. You do something horrifically embarrassing—but not in a cute way. We’ve all been there: you trip down the stairs, you spill water down the front of your shirt or you’re late to school and have to awkwardly burst into your first-period class. But you can easily recover from each of these situations, as long as somebody’s infatuated enough with you to find your mistakes adorable. However, there are just some moments your reputation simply can’t survive. Even worse, if you mess up badly enough, your crush might find someone else to obsess over. Can you imagine being known for a failed Homecoming proposal or a publicly indecent wardrobe malfunction for the rest of your high school days? If that doesn’t keep you up at night, I don’t know what will.

4. You finally choose one of the boys in your love triangle, but he’s already moved on. I mean, I guess you can choose the other one, but you already resigned yourself to a life with number one! I can’t even fathom the shame of spending so much time contemplating which man is your better match, only to find out that your top choice has decided to stop competing for your affections. After all, no main character is forced to settle for their second choice! As somebody who has been in countless love triangles, living out that nightmare might make me swear off of them. Honestly, this is probably the spookiest one on the list so far. I’m trembling just thinking about it.

5. Your name is on the ballot for Prom Queen, but you end up being the runner-up. If my other spooky scenarios have miraculously failed to petrify you, this one will do the trick. Just think about standing on stage, waiting for your name to be called only to watch in horror as your nemesis is crowned instead. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, consider this: everybody knows that the Prom Queen runner-up is always the mean girl. This means you have to do the classic scoff-then-storm-off, leaving the winner to steal your boyfriend. Plus, if you’re a devoted fan of my world-renowned column, you know that the Regina George position is one of the deadliest slots you can take up in the high school character lineup. Even if you avoid getting hit by a bus at the end of your movie, you still have to forfeit your protagonist spot, defeating the purpose of your teenage years entirely. If you’re even in the running for Prom Queen, you’d better win. Otherwise, prepare for a scare.

When you’re done terrifying yourself, you should feel pepped, thrilled and a little anxious — that’s how you know you’re ready to enjoy Halloween to the fullest! So before you get ready to Christian Girl Autumn your way through November, let yourself bask in the glory of Halloween. Eat a couple of mediocre candy bars, brave through a horror movie or two and spend a little too much time trying to organize a group costume. Even better, give your friends the fright of their lives and read them some of Sarah’s Spooky Scenarios! After all, October is the one time that you can excuse intentionally terrifying somebody else: just say you’re trying to improve their holiday experience.

Come Oct. 31, don’t forget to stay safe, brush your teeth and seek attention “The Mittle-man on Campus” style. And remember: if you’re not the protagonist, you’re not doing it right.

Stay spooky!