Forget about COVID; beware the symptoms of pumpkin envy

September 27, 2020

Now that it is autumn, the pumpkin makes its appearance, and it is almost always just once a year. And given our behavior, I can’t really blame them for their short appearance. With the pandemic taking the stage front and center, the pumpkin becomes a welcome distraction. I’m not a confrontational person – well, except when I watch the evening news.

But there is something about the pumpkin that seems to make us go berserk and bring out the more-than-competitive nature in us. We invite these gourds into our house and then we take a knife and stab them over and over again, sculpting teeth and gouging eyes out of this hulk. Then we cut off their heads and scoop out their brains and insides. And if that wasn’t enough, some people even light them on fire, placing a candle inside their cavity.

But I’ve learned the pumpkin is a patient creature. It will hang around looking pleasant and innocent for a couple of months. Eventually, that pumpkin demands retribution for being treated like a fool. And by that, I mean it will rot.

In the beginning, the pumpkin will flatter you like Edie Haskell on “Leave It To Beaver,” until one day a stench the likes of which would make any person fall to their knees begging for mercy emerges as a final vengeance. This brilliant-orange pumpkin will decay into a mass of protoplasm foaming over your front lawn until it takes on a life of its own. It will send off enough noxious gases that not even the government would consider taking your property under any kind of eminent domain action.

So overwhelming is this affront that the postal service will demand that you use a post office box, since every other mailman on your route has been hospitalized with post-traumatic stress disorder. Delivery men have run out of masks, and insurance doesn’t cover the muscle pulls and back injuries incurred from sprinting or staggering to their trucks.

This is no aroma of ginger snaps or apple cider, but rather a decaying mass; one that could have wiped out the entire population of dinosaurs. You are in danger of your property being declared a no-fly zone. Airlines have to be rerouted to other states, since the smell of decay is so strong, all engines will stop suddenly, coughing and choking back expletive-deleted comments to the control tower.

Oh sure, it always starts off with good intentions, at least for me. I visit a local pumpkin patch in anticipation of the fall season. There I purchase, after much reflection (which means looking in my wallet), a pumpkin for about $80 a pound.

The pumpkins in the patch all look bright and put on their best show; they shove out their chest and try to appear round, even though they have covered up defects with makeup. Of course the owner of the patch has told them that they will be chosen for the “America’s Got Talent” television show. But some of them have heard rumors and pretend to be diseased. So you want to be selective when choosing your pumpkin.

Finally, I make a decision and wait in line at the loading dock. Twenty men load it into the trunk of my car. The ride home is difficult since all I can see out the back window is a bright-orange mass.

I wouldn’t go to this much trouble, but I’m the kind of person who cracks under pressure from my peers to decorate. If it was up to me, I would spend the money on a miniature pumpkin and a large pepperoni pizza, extra cheese.

But I’m prepared for the consequences. It’s interesting that the pumpkin and all that goes with it makes its appearance at the same time as the campaign season is gearing up. Payback or coincidence? 


  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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