I’ve decided that late October is officially the peak of pumpkin season.
The arrival of pumpkins into national relevancy begins sometime in early September, mainly in liquid form, with the onset of pumpkin-flavored coffee and ale in local coffee shops and bars. But with Halloween rapidly approaching, pumpkins become as prevalent in our culture as green shirts do among wannabe Irish people on St. Patrick’s Day.
Somewhere along the way, pumpkins became part of Thanksgiving, too. In fact, Halloween and Thanksgiving just seems like one big holiday at this point. They both involve not only pumpkins, but autumnal color schemes like brown and orange, leaves, the word “harvest,” and flannel shirts.
The only difference is one revolves around turkey and stuffing and the other around candy. With one holiday, I’m thankful for my friends and family, and the other, I’m thankful for trampy costumes on women.
But anyway, back to pumpkins. It’s customary for people to acquire their own pumpkins for holiday season. Some place them on their front lawn, others plop them on their desk, and people may even put one in their car for safekeeping.
I’m all for people developing a festive attitude, but sometimes I wonder if we really think things through when we go about owning our own pumpkins. Because I seriously don’t think people put as much thought into it as they should.
When you put a pumpkin on your work desk, or on your front stoop, it’s not like you’re putting any old decorative item there. For example, one could place a snow globe on their desk, and keep it their until the end of time. It will go unchanged.
But pumpkins rot. They start to smell. They attract insects and rodents. And when you actually carve open a pumpkin, it only accelerates the decaying process. If you leave a pumpkin out overnight on your front lawn, a raccoon or a squirrel is going to eat the shit out of it faster than you can even post a photo on Facebook.
And within hours, your cool-looking pumpkin suddenly looks like a deformed, mutated basketball. Last year, my company encouraged employees to participate in a pumpkin decorating contest. It was actually kind of fun. People went to great lengths and made some creative get-ups for their respective pumpkins.
But after a few days, nobody knew what to do. Throwing a pumpkin in the trash just feels weird. It’s not garbage. It’s not a used tissue. it’s an actual fruit (and yes, a pumpkin is apparently a fruit, not a vegetable.) Putting it in the trash bin would be like throwing out an entire watermelon without ever eating it. Even though we never had any intention of eating the pumpkin.
And seriously, who ever does eat a pumpkin?
So, I kept in on my desk. Days passed. Then weeks. Besides the fact that it took up a lot of space, pumpkins are also very awkwardly shaped and tend to not stay still. One nudge and it goes toppling, sending your entire desk into disarray. But again, I couldn’t toss it. Finally, the pumpkin started to turn a shade of brown — which I ignored — and then black. Which I could no longer ignore.
Possessing a pumpkin is almost like a chore, in fact. It’s comparable to a girlfriend you like just barely enough to not want to break up with and hurt her feelings.
Also, I can’t be the only one who thinks pumpkin carving is a little sadistic, can I? It involves taking a long, deadly blade, and brutally slashing it into a hard, meaty surface repeatedly. And by doing it multiple times, you only get better at it. In essence, we’re nurturing our knife wielding skills. For all we know, the Zodiac killer gained his inspiration after carving his very first jack-o’-lantern.
This topic is especially relevant to me because, this morning, my company once again rolled in a crate of pumpkins for this year’s contest. I was probably the least excited person in the room to see that barrel of orange spheres. Nonetheless, I gave into peer pressure and snagged a pumpkin.
Time will tell how long I hold onto this pumpkin. But unlike last year, I will not let this relationship last longer than it needs to.
Pumpkin, it’s not you. It’s me.