You couldn’t resist, could you? You saw that squat, perfect orange jack-o-lantern, helplessly grinning at you as it sat – defenseless – on my front porch. And you had to destroy it, leaving its remains strewn along Fifth Avenue West, with tire tracks through its shattered shell. I picked up the pieces on a gray, Saturday morning, pre-coffee. A grim start to the weekend.
That pumpkin was a squash of beauty. I pulled it out of a farm stand bin, incredulous that no one else had snagged it: symmetrical and deep orange, with a long, jaunty stem. I painstakingly carved each of its fangs to perfection with a thin, serrated blade – shaving orange curls out of the corners so as to get the candlelight to project a slight glow through the pumpkin’s hide around the eyes and mouth.
Some people like to get creative with their jack-o-lantern. Not me. I prefer the Classic American tradition: fangs, evil eyes and a skull nose. Spooky, but not necessarily scary. But still, you pretty much get one shot a year to carve a pumpkin and this was my best ever. If the Headless Horseman intended to lob another one at old Ichabod Crane, he couldn’t craft a better pumpkin if he tried.
Anyway, it’s irrelevant at this point. The pumpkin is dead, indistinguishable from any other pile of pungent, organic waste. Strangely, you left the other jack-o-lantern on my porch gently tipped over onto its back, staring up, powerless to prevent the kidnapping of its companion. I don’t quite get that. If you’ve got the nerve to creep up to my house in the dead of night and smash one pumpkin, why not go all the way and smash the other?
Maybe you couldn’t carry two at a time. Maybe you worried your vandalistic giggles would wake me and I would stumble out of the house, bleary-eyed, chasing you with a hockey stick. (I would have.) Maybe your cretin friend was driving and urging you to hurry up and get on with it, to smash my Classic American jack-o-lantern on the pavement and continue with your night of cruising around, listening to terrible music and hanging out at a gas station parking lot.
Ah, what’s the use? I’ve already gotten over it. Halloween looms, and with it the costume parties, pounds of candy, and excited, shivering trick-or-treaters ringing the doorbell that the holiday brings. I could stand behind a tree with a garden hose waiting for the doofus who tries to nab the lone pumpkin remaining on the porch. But I’ve got better things to do. Hopefully you, pumpkin-smasher, will find something better to do with your time, too.
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