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Because pumpkin guts is a man’s work

Submitted by on Saturday, 30 October 2010 No Comment

I hadn’t planned on carving a pumpkin this year. I just wasn’t up to it.

And no, this isn’t another one of those grating “waah, he’s not here on special days” whines, though pumpkin carving is Dad’s job. It always has been, from the time Big Guy was three months old. Dad gets into it, the guys look forward to it, and it gets me out of sticking my hand into a bunch of smelly, slimy pumpkin guts.

But this year, in addition to the Pumpkin Carver In Chief being in Afghanistan, our calendar was jammed with sports, school and work. When the guys saw Mr. Potato Head pumpkin kits at a store a few weeks ago, it seemed like the perfect solution. Stick it and go. The whole process would be over in about 15 minutes without anyone having to touch pumpkin guts.

Somewhere along the line, though, there was a slip-up. Literally. Big Guy was trying to poke a hole in the pumpkin so he could create his vampire, but his knife went a little too far and the slot turned into a slit. The slit then turned into a triangle – that part was deliberate. Another triangle joined it while I wasn’t looking, and before I knew it, yes, indeed we were carving a pumpkin.

“I want to make it scary, just like Daddy does,” Big Guy said. “He’s not here, so it’s my job this year.”

If there’s one thing I know about Big Guy, it’s that you don’t stand in  his way when he was that certain look in his eye. If he says he’s going to do it, he’s going to do it or die trying. But there is no way he pulls this off without help, I thought.

I had severely underestimated him.

We had to leave for basketball practice, so it took us a day to get back to the project. After school Friday, Big Guy grabbed his butter knife and patiently sawed at the top. Have I ever mentioned that patience is not Big Guy’s strong suit? He grimaced only slightly as he opened it and got his first big whiff of pumpkin guts. He complained only slightly as he removed the slime within.

“I need a marker now, so I can draw the face. That’s the way Daddy does it, right?” he asked.

It is, but only after he makes me search the Internet for an hour for creepy pumpkin designs. We select one, print it and then wind up with the same face we do every year because drawing anything beyond basic geometric shapes is beyond the skills of anyone in this household.

Fortunately, Big Guy forgot about the Internet part of the project and settled for an electric jack-o-lantern as a model. “Mommy, can you draw the face for me?” he asked. “But don’t cut it out, because that’s my job. Daddy’s not here, so it’s my job this year.”

I drew it, and he resumed his patient butter-knife sawing. I felt sorry for him at that point and decided that if he was going to work this carefully, he deserved to have the proper equipment. I found the pumpkin-carving knife deep in a kitchen drawer and handed it to him.

His eyes got big. “That’s Daddy’s knife!” he said.

“Yes, it is. He’s the only one who’s ever used it, and now you get to.”

It was as if I’d handed him Excalibur. A few minutes later, though, disaster struck. “Oh no!” Big Guy said, waving an orange handle in one hand and a silver blade in another. “I broke Daddy’s knife!”

“That’s all right, babes. We can find another one next year.” I got him another knife, which also lasted only a few minutes. He used its stump to finish cutting the mouth, then he labored mightily to push the mouth out the front of the pumpkin.

“I did it! I did it!” he cheered. “I did the jack-o-lantern! Just like Daddy.”

Yes you did, Big Guy. There might be a few extra holes in the back, but that only makes for more creative lighting. Daddy might even incorporate that feature into his design next year.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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