It was a Saturday morning. I’ll never forget the coolness in the air that day, or the scent of animal manure at that pumpkin farm out in Livermore. I was searching that day, searching for a very special pumpkin that I could adopt into our family. Someone to sit on my desk and watch me write, someone to absorb the tears that fell from my eyes when I couldn’t face the difficulties of this life anymore.
I found him amidst a crowd of other pumpkins of all different shapes and sizes. Each clamored for my attention, like a concert audience pleading for the lead singer to notice them. But only one pumpkin stood out from the rest. One perfect pumpkin. I sat him gently within my wagon and carted him to the register.
I left the pumpkin farm happy that day, a new member of our family in tow – Mr. Pumpkin.
I gave Mr. Pumpkin a temporary home within in the living room of our dinky little apartment. For weeks he sat on the floor by the coffee table, content to just be out of the crowd of inferior pumpkins. Unfortunately, I was the only one who gave Mr. Pumpkin the respect he truly deserved. My wife tripped and stubbed her toe on him on occasion, as if he wasn’t even there. My son tried countless times to use him as a chair or a toilet – I’m not really sure which. I scolded everyone who tried to make Mr. Pumpkin anything less than a pumpkin.
Then the day came.
I drew a face on Mr. Pumpkin to give him a life. And I carved into him to finally unlock his true potential, his Saiyan abilities if you will. It was a labor of love. When I reached in and took out Mr. Pumpkin’s innards and wiped them on my son to make the circle complete, my boy cried and ran off. I only wanted him to embrace the fact that pumpkins are everything that is good in this world. He did not understand.
I set Mr. Pumpkin’s seeds – the very essence of who he was – to the side so I could enjoy them later. Then I set Mr. Pumpkin on the kitchen counter for all of our little apartment to see. He was a beacon in this dark world, a smiling face against a gray backdrop of sad, sorry pumpkin haters.
It only took hours for the rash to appear within Mr. Pumpkin’s fragile form. He was sick, but I didn’t know why. How could a pumpkin so freshly carved be sick so soon?
I decided to wait and see what would happen.
The next morning I could think of nothing else but Mr. Pumpkin – our times in the pumpkin patch, the times I had to shoo my son from sitting on his head. The memories burned deep within me. I went to the kitchen, frantic of what I would find.
Mr. Pumpkin’s rash had spread.
I panicked. I had nowhere to quarantine him. The weather in the Bay Area – especially where I am on the coast – is too humid and full of moisture. Where a pumpkin candidate would last two weeks after being carved in Arizona, it only took days for one carved in our part of the world to quickly degenerate into a rotting, stinking corpse.
My wife looked at me with eyes that said everything: “It’s time to put him down.”
It was still days before Halloween. But even though there was a wide, bright smile on his face, I knew deep down inside of his gourd, he was suffering. I waited until the next morning to make my final decision. If the disease slowed down, I might be able to carry him through to the 31st so he could see what light burned within him. But when I took off his cap, his inner chamber had grown hair, and so much of it!
I picked him up in my arms, my fingers almost pushing through his bottom. His shell was beginning to rot. I knew it was the end of the line for my orange friend.
I took him to the community trash cans and said my goodbyes.
I hope Mr. Pumpkin finds a good home in the landfill amidst the broken toilets and wet cardboard boxes.