Color me still naïve, but when I first saw the headline for this piece (from which I have more or less stolen this post’s title), I assumed it was an entertaining spoof, dealing with the absurdity of the gourmet decorative pumpkin explosion. Since it was something a tad more serious, I offer here my own assessment of our current state of emergency. If anyone has further thoughts about how to saw through this gourdian knot, by all means leave them below.
It has come to my attention that in recent years, we have descended as a nation from our previous greatness, the greatness established by our foremothers in the kitchen—and our forefathers in the field—in their ceaseless efforts to perfect the perfect pumpkin for the hallway, the table, and the pie. Having reached Peak Pumpkin sometime around 1950 or so, we now find ourselves in a strange, psychedelic world in which you have only to imagine any kind of pumpkin you like in order for it to appear.
Pumpkins are no longer orange; they are white; green; brown (brown?! the rainbow’s most boring color); even on occasion a hideous, sickly yellow. No longer smooth, but bewarted. No longer round, but distorted, tortured, even squashed—and they were already squash. Once invariably large, they now come (like heroes) in all shapes and sizes. The used to be respectable vegetables, and now their attitude can only be described as punkin’.
If you saw a produce product at any other time of the year that looked like this …
… would you ask it out? take it home? I thought not. You would shudder, avert your eyes, and wheel the grocery cart on. If this turned up in the back of your fridge, you would shriek and call for your husband to remove it, stat, even though it was probably your fault that it got that way. If teenagers left this in your driveway, you would call the police. If its white cousin …
… apparated anywhere within a block of your house, you would dive for the holy water, in sure and certain fear of having seen a ghost. Ghosts, respectable ghosts, anyway, used to buddy-buddy with pumpkins; they certainly did not impersonate them. But to such depths we have fallen.
This, my friends, is what has gone wrong with our democracy. Not education, not the lack of any virtue in particular, but our inability to distinguish proper vegetables from the escapees or a horror film has brought us to this pass.
It may already be too late to salvage your Halloween, but may I proffer an humble suggestion? Find the nearest sledgehammer, walk outside to your front porch, and smash those pumpkins now. I promise, the kids on the block will be impressed. Think of the example you will have set for future generations.
As for Thanksgiving: please keep those winter wonders in the appropriate sizes, shapes, and dimensions. You don’t want to serendipitously poison the pie.
Don’t even get me started on Indian corn.