The Cubicle at the End of the Universe: Chris Schluep


Halloween is the fun holiday. Sure, other holidays are fun as well, but which one can compete with a day built around costumes and candy? Christmas and Chanukah come with way too much gift and (quite literally) travel baggage to be called plain fun, and Thanksgiving is best described in more staid terms like “celebratory” or maybe “satisfying” or “fulfilling” (although, truth-be-told, it’s my favorite holiday because I like turkey, stuffing, and football). The rest of the holidays—Columbus Day, Flag Day, etc.—are all important, but they don’t really compete with the Big Three.

Why am I even talking about this? Because this Halloween I realized that the next Halloween is going to be the most fun one I’ve had in a long time.

This Halloween, as my wife and I walked through our neighborhood, we must have seen a hundred kids all dressed in colorful costumes and stumbling around with bags of loot and hungry looks in their eyes. It was as if Comic-Con had been placed inside a dryer and put on high heat. Plus, my wife was nine months pregnant with our first child, which meant that every costume we liked and admired could presumably be worn by our own son the next year.

Although there were costumes with more originality, inspiration, and man-hours built into them, our favorite costume that we saw this year was worn by a little boy dressed in a robe and carrying a plastic light saber. As soon as we saw him my wife and I both got pretty excited. Here is the actual exchange, as best as I can remember:

My wife: “Maybe we can dress up William as Luke Skywalker next year.”

Me: “That’s not necessarily Luke, you know. He could be a Padawan.”

My wife: “I suppose that’s true, but it’s also true you’re a dork.”

Me: “Thank you.”

My wife: “What if our son wants to dress up as Anakin?”

Me (looking at her pregnant belly): “We could dress you up as the Death Star right now.”

My wife: “You really are a dork.”

The jury is still out on what young William’s costume will be next year, but there’s a strong likelihood that some character from Star Wars will be in the running. And not just next year but for many years to come. Since A New Hopecame out in 1977, how many kids have dressed up as Star Wars characters and gone out in search of adventure and candy? I know that I did—in fact, I was Luke Skywalker for not one, but two, Halloweens (my brother had the sense to dress as Han Solo). Star Wars is not just pop culture at this point, it’s culture plain and simple. And as such, how will we teach our children about this important swatch of fabric in our cultural quilt?

About a week after William’s birth, my first boss at Random House, Shelly Shapiro, sent me the following important video. It taught me that Halloween is just one piece of the Star Wars experience, that Star Wars isn’t only about fun and games—that, as with everything, there is a light side and a dark side, and it is up to us to teach our children the difference. Personally, I’m looking forward to tackling these big issues and introducing my son to a universe that has meant so much to me for so many years. I especially look forward to uttering the words, “Binks killed grandma.”

Talking to your kids about Star Wars.