Halloween this year was a sort of bust. I had expected certain plans, made certain plans, and then someone never showed up. So, deciding to not let it get me down, I attacked the art of Pumpkin Carving.
First, like anything, you look it up on the internet. The most widely used method (according to page hits) for carving pumpkins is to use a stencil. You print a stencil out at the library because the paper is free there, and you spend too much of your day there anyway. After printing out your stencil, or stencils, from whatever crappy site gives them out for free, you then hide them in your backpack and try to recall if the library hides those magnetic strips in their printer paper, too.
You get home, drop off your bag, talk to Haji for a while, and then head back out. If you go to Lewis you can buy 5 pumpkins. I had originally bought them as 2 for me, 2 for Megan, and 1 for both of us. So, I had to make three trips to my car, but, for a dollar a piece, they were a steal (ba dum bum).
Get home, and then haul just one of the pumpkins up. This was going to be the test / first pumpkin, as I had never done this before. You wash up the pumpkin, and cut the top off. Then you scrape all the guts out, so you have a nice hollow, freezing cold pumpkin. Wash your hands, and get feeling back as soon as you can. In the pause, go back and chat with Molly Brass and Bryce.
Then you have to decide which stencil will work best for the pumpkin. You place the sheets of paper upon the pumpkin, trying to decided between the Storm Trooper and the spider. Eventually you decide on the spider. The next step is to tape the spider stencil onto the pumpkin and then poke holes through the lines. Then when you pull the stencil off you have the outline (connect-the-dots style) of the spider.
Then you actually start carving. This is a delicate process. They make knives for this kinda stuff, apparently, but I had to use a slender steak knife. All in all, it turned out pretty good. If I had a digital camera, I would have pictures of these things, but I don’t, and, currently, they are moldy and rotten. When you’re done, you can find a nice place to store your pumpkin, place a candle inside, and let onlookers “Oooo” and “Ahhh” at your work.
I did four that night – a spider, a face, a sea turtle, and a cat face. I put candles in three of them. It was after my final pumpkin, when I decided to call it a night, that disaster struck. Here’s the story.
I had just gotten done with my fourth pumpkin, the kitty face. I took it downstairs, put it on the steps, put a candle in it, and came back upstairs, collecting the various things I’d left around.
I got up to the second floor stoop, and I decided I wanted to have that candle lit, so that, if anyone comes up here in the dark, they see the face in the light.
I try to light the candle in the pumpkin, but it doesn’t work very well. The match either goes out, or I can’t reach the candle, or I burn my hand. I have to come up with a different way to get it lit.
I try all sorts of different ways going through the eyes or the mouth, but then it dawns on me – I should use something else – light that and put it in the pumpkin.
So, I grab a kleenex. I stuff it into the candle and I light it.
It smoulders and burns and a lot of smoke starts coming out. Then, out of nowhere, this shrieking alarm goes off. As it turns out, the smoke detector is right above the door. It starts to scream. Over and over.
I run into the kitchen and grab the white dish drying clothe to fan the air away from the smoke detector. Then, when it stops for a spell, I try to blow out the fire, but it doesn’t work. In fact, it flames up angrily at me. It just keeps burning, and it’s starting to burn the pumpkin itself.
I finally try to tear the smoke detector off of the wall with my hands. The front panel comes off, though I just wanted to remove the unit. Then I see the battery. I grab it and it flips out of my hand and down the steps somewhere.
Of course, this whole time I’ve had the lights off to see “how cool a lit pumpkin looks”, so now I turn the lights back on. The fire still rages. I run back to the kitchen and grab a glass of water.
I get back to the pumpkin and dump the water in. This causes the candle to react. It bursts the glass container holding the candle, wax begins to pour out and into the pumpkin, and water flows out of the pumpkin’s open mouth and onto the floor.
Now the candle’s ruined, the pumpkin’s ruined, the floor may be ruined (it is stained blueish now), the smoke alarm may be ruined, and the smell of smoke is everywhere. I decide that I’ll leave the stairwell light on afterall.
Being somewhat shaken, I walk back to my tablet and recount the story to Molly and Bryce, who find it quite humourous (those sick, sick people), and pick up the rest of my pumpkin things. I move Megan’s pumpkin to the back cubboard area, along with my utensils, and then turn everything off in the apartment to go to bed.
As I lay in my bed, thinking about the events of the night, I recall that I own a pliars. A tool perfect for moving a lit match towards an unlit candle. That is, in fact, how I relit the candles for two more nights. The next morning, leaving for mass, I discovered the battery, set upon the window sill, next to the screaming, wax scarred, wilted pumpkin who caused all the mess.
“That’s what you get, boy. That’s what you get.” I heard no reply, and my steps echoed away.