I didn’t know that there is something oddly satisfying about reaching a hand into the center of a pumpkin and emerging with a handful of stringy entrails and dripping with juices. Ah, Halloween.
It was my second stab (ha) at carving a pumpkin. The last time was three years ago when JG took me to his parents’ house in an effort to continue reclaiming my childhood. See, his growing-up was filled with rituals like carving pumpkins, taking bike rides, and going sledding. For me, these were rare, if nonexistent activities, for better or for worse. Ever since I’ve met him, JG has been catching me up, so to speak. He cleaned out my pumpkin before I cautiously carved a picture of a witch, and my first-ever jack o’ lantern came back to school with me for its place of honor in my dorm room.
Tonight, JG had to give me a refresher course on the best way to dismember my victim. I let him do the initial incision and cut out the cap, and then came my task of extracting the innards so that JG could toast up some seeds for snacking. It's my habit to anthropomorphize things, and it was a strangely visceral motion to grasp the guts of something, even if it was inanimate. I thought, morbidly, that it was how I imagined harvesting organs might be … not that I know anything about harvesting organs. For the next couple of hours, I sat pretzel-style at the kitchen table with my pumpkin cradled in my lap as I punched out the creepy Welcome sign pattern and connected the dots with a tiny saw. JG finished his pumpkin at least an hour before I did and he got to work on the seeds. Soon, the aroma of toasted seeds mingled with the fresh vegetable smell from wet pumpkin on my hands. Two blisters and a sore right arm later, I had a nicely carved pumpkin for our front stoop and pumpkin seeds to nosh, plus the tension-taming experience of wrestling a big old gourd into submission and quality time with the boy. Maybe it's not everyone's idea of a fun Friday night, but I'll take it any day.