Warning: The following post is a work of NONfiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are NOT products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely real. (This actually happened to me and I am not making it up.)
October has arrived and I am starting to see Halloween decorations in all the stores. Each October for the last 30 years (except for the last two), my Mother has sent me a Halloween card that says “Watch out for flying pumpkins!” She probably bought the cards, as well as some little Halloween gifts, at least eight months in advance and had everything wrapped, stamped and ready to go each year on September 1st.
Halloween is my favorite holiday when the semi-suppressed kid in me goes hog-wild decorating with creepy stuff that scares really little kids. But I must admit the lack of that tradition of a card for this last couple of years has been bittersweet since the Alzheimer’s grim reaper came to visit. At any rate, I tell this story at least once a year explaining why my Mom always sent me a card that said “Watch out for flying pumpkins” each year.
As I was growing up, one of my closest friends was almost as big of a freak as I was. Actually a few were but I’m going to focus on one of them for now. I had a way of attracting them.
In sixth grade, we didn’t want to admit that we still had closets full of Barbie condos, cars and outfits, so we began disrobing them and being creepier than we already were. We would prop them up on mailboxes and trees naked on the path between our houses ( she lived up the hill a good ten or so houses away). We always attached notes with disturbing sentiments to amuse each other. That way whichever of us was walking would have to see them and collect them for reuse at another date. (We brought Barbie arms to each other’s weddings for photo opps of Barbie’s arm in our wedding cakes.)
We even put one in the middle of the road one time with ketchup on it like it had been run over. Cranky Mrs. Clapp from across the street (our version Mrs. Kravitz) found me less than amusing and came and told my mother about it. What a buzz kill. Fortunately my mother already knew I was warped. It was in the genes.
At any rate, one year my friend and I wanted to go trick-or-treating even though we were in the 9th grade. We wanted to be those creepy way-too-old kids that come to the door for candy and make people want to lock the door early. Clearly we thought we were hilarious.
I wore a super realistic (or I thought so at the time) ‘old man’ mask and a man’s sports coat, and used a golf club as my cane. I cant’ remember what my friend’s get-up was, but I’m thinking she was equally disguised so no one would realize what freak geeks we were trick-or-treating in high school.
As we strolled up and down the streets on our neighborhood Halloween haunt, suddenly a speeding car came racing by us. It kept turning around at the end of the street and racing by us again. It was a navy blue Honda Prelude (I can’t believe I remember but I can see it now). It was a 1980s version before they came out with the new body style which I thought was super cool. (The new body style had a “moon roof” and I used to tape magazine ads of it up around my dad’s office and house to give subtle hints of my auto preferences.)
Anyway, about the third or fourth time the Honda Prelude zoomed by us, I decided ( in keeping with my character) to wave my cane in the direction of the car and yell “Slow down you meddling kids!” full-on Hanna Barbera style.
The next thing I knew I woke up on a couch at my neighbor’s house. The house that now had splattered pumpkin all over the driveway. Luckily they called my Mom and when I came to, she was staring down at me as I lay on the couch. My friend had probably crapped her pants by now thinking I might be dead, I can’t remember. But I’m thinking she’ll remember when she reads this post.
I had a gash on my nose from where the stem of the pumpkin made its impact and it knocked me out cold. Those meddling kids had been throwing pumpkins out of their speeding car that night (super smart, almost as smart as I was yelling at a car and waving my fake cane). My mom and her boyfriend (now my stepdad) drove me to the Emergency Room in his super cool white Firebird. As we walked in , I kid you not, my mom said to the nurses at the front desk “My daughter’s been hit by a flying pumpkin.”
The nurses at the station did everything in their power not to break out into hysterical laughter at my expense. I was sort of out of it, but that part I will never forget. Complete teenage mortification was in process and it was only getting started.
I got to miss school that next day. The ER doc told them I had a concussion. I sort of remember my Mom waking me up in the middle of the night to make sure I was breathing.
Word got around school about what had happened to me. Nice, my nerd cover was WAY blown. Turns out the person who threw the pumpkin was an upperclassman named Doug that I sort of had a crush on (I promise I am not making this up). What are the odds? Word got around that my dad was a lawyer, so he got scared and called me at my house to apologize. That was a super fun conversation to have with an upper classman. I was mortified.
It all ended well and makes a great story to tell that explains the “Watch out for flying pumpkins” cards. I am grateful that I survived the Pumpkin Incident (sounds like a Charlie Brown holiday special) even though I miss receiving that card every year. I’m also celebrating my 50th post – half way through my 100-day gratitude challenge! What are you grateful for today? Thanks so very much for reading!