Monday, October 24, 2005

The Great Pumpkin


It is tradition that Amy and I throw a pumpkin carving party around Halloween. It started as a party of two, me and her carving our own pumpkins. In time roommates joined the festivities, and eventually we decided to have real parties.

It has become quite an annual event with lots of people, food, drinks and prizes given for the best pumpkin.

After a year off, via Strasbourg, we were very excited to host a new party this year. It was different this year for a few reasons. For the first time since dating we are both living in an apartment instead of a house. This keeps the carving located in smaller areas inside our living quarters. Our previous home had a very large covered porch in which all types of participants could go wild.

This was also the first time I’ve invited anyone from my work. For years I’ve kept my business life apart from my personal one. But for varying reasons, mainly the lack of any friends in the outside work world, I decided to invite a few folks I work with to the festivities.

Inviting people at work is harder than it appears. I don’t have the space, nor inclination to invite everyone I work with. As a supervisor I can’t show favoritism to anyone while working, and this has the potential to spill over into my personal life. So I had to carefully choose a few kind folks, and then secretly invite them.

Amy invited a few folks from the French department making it a unique mix of French, French-Canadians, intellectuals, and the working stiff.

It’s always funny to me that Amy and I spend a large quantity of cash buying food and prizes, hours of our time cleaning the house, preparing food and making the proper musical arrangements, all for what amounts to a couple of hours of fun.

The party started at six and by five we had already had a few call outs. Surprise visits by grandparents, deaths in the family, and horribly late veterinarians all were keeping folks away from our party.

Around seven we had enough people to call it a party. We munched, and drank and mingled. We then spread out the plastic coverings and got down to business. Amazingly, several people confessed to having never carved a single pumpkin.

An easy victory, I would have thought had it not been for the appearance of Travis, my arch enemy in pumpkin carving. Travis has been carving pumpkins for as long as he’s been able to hold a miniature blade and usually beats the pants off of everyone.

Patterns were chosen, stem cut out, and pumpkin guts were strewn into bowls all over the flat. Some chose to trace their patterns with marker, others tapes the patterns on and cut through them, and still others used the poke tiny holes method.

Half-way through I realized my legs had fallen asleep while sitting on the floor. I have rather poor blood circulation and my appendages have a tendency to go numb if I sit still for too long.

Standing up, I realized I could feel neither leg as my right foot literally bent all the way over to the ankle. Trying to rebalance myself I felt the world turn as I fell towards it. Like an old man I crashed against our big CD shelf and prayed that neither it or the clock on top would come crashing down.

With a good thump I landed on the floor. Embarrassed and with the entire house looking at me wish shock, I managed to yelp out and “I’m Ok” and get back on my feet.

With that excitement over we all finished our pumpkins and were ready for the judging. Through secret ballot we all vote on our favorite carvings. Travis did a marvelous hanging bat that got a whirlwind of oohs and ahs. I must admit though he was my nemesis, I voted for him.

I, myself, went for a complicated scary tree, that Amy dubbed Treebeard. I was a little hesitant as I cut him out, worrying that my year off had atrophied my ability to carve something more than a smiling face.

But with candle inside, Treebeard won me the victory! First prize in my own home! Being the host I let Travis, second prize winner, have his choice between the prizes: The 10th anniversary edition of Toy Story, and the complete works of Curious George.

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