Last night was “Pumpkin Carving Sew Dreadlocks into a Pirate Hat Make an Infant Sized Bald Eagle Costume from Scratch” night at our house. What? You don’t celebrate this time-honored tradition of gourd mutilation and frantic last second costume construction, too? It must just be a local cultural colloquialism indigenous to procrastinators, over-ambitious amateur seamstresses and parents with no concept of the passage of time. (Wait… Halloween’s tomorrow?)
Arriving home from work at 6:30 I was greeted at the front door by an enthusiastic five year old who was excited to finally get to carve the pumpkin and an enthusiastic one year old who was excited to finally get to slap madly at my quadriceps. After retrieving the pumpkin from the porch I lugged it into the dining room and placed it on the table, it promptly rolled onto its side. I picked it up and again it fell over. Finally I jammed a dish towel under one side like a drink coaster under a wobbly table leg. With serrated knife in hand I was prepared to fashion a 15-20 minute conventional facial expression of triangular geometric shapes (mostly isosceles but maybe scalene if I was feeling crazy) until Jack said that he wanted a Spiderman pumpkin. As he helped me eviscerate the innards of the pumpkin I tried to persuade him to reconsider, but his resolute man-crush on Spiderman could not be influenced. My über parenting gene took over and I vowed, “If my kid wants a Spiderman pumpkin damnit my kid’s going to get a Spiderman pumpkin.”
Right then Kathleen came downstairs, frazzled from wrestling Adam to sleep, but finally ready to put the finishing touches on Jack’s Captain Jack Sparrow costume. To date he’s been an owl, Frodo from Lord of the Rings, Edward Scissorhands, Harry Potter and now Keith Richards.
While Kathleen roasted the pumpkin seeds then helped Jack into his pantaloons I crudely sketched Spiderman’s face on the pumpkin. While Kathleen arranged a Rastafarian wig with 3-foot dreadlocks on Jack’s head I methodically scraped away at the webbed mask design with a dull nut pick. While Jack danced around the dining room looking more like Bob Marley’s bastard love child than an effeminate sea pirate I ditched the ineffective nut pick in favor a razorblade with electrical tape wrapped around one side. While Kathleen forced a pirate hat over the wig and Jack complained it was too tight causing Kathleen’s face to turn red and a vein I’ve never seen before to appear on her forehead I ate heavily salted roasted pumpkin seeds and replaced the razorblade with a church key style can-opener with triangle can piercing head. While Kathleen hacked at the wig with scissors then sewed the remaining dreads to the lining of the hat and Jack stood transfixed in the middle of the living room in his pirate costume doing his best kindergarten romance novel cover pose watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” I got our pumpkin in a headlock and dug deep grooves into the skin with a edge of a flathead screwdriver.
Captain Jack will get you high at night
When again Jack claimed the hat was too tight, Kathleen finally gave up and turned her costume-making labors to Adam’s highly elaborate Bald-Eagle get-up. She created an owl costume for Jack when he was one year old (not sure where this ornithological predilection towards neotany comes from) and I think she feels like she owes a similar effort to Adam.
About 5 minutes later I looked up from my pièce de résistance to see Jack standing about a foot from the television repeatedly pulling his shirt up and exposing his chest like he was seductively plying dollar bills from sex-crazed blue hairs at the back stage post-party of an Off-Off-Broadway production of The Pirates of Penzance; Charlie Brown was getting another rock instead of candy which I hope he hurled through the front windows of the neighbors that felt compelled to add to his neuroses; and Kathleen was sitting in the center of an unsettling pile of bald eagle pieces like a poacher butchering her prize-catch for sale as a coveted black market aphrodisiac.
At 9:30, three hours after it all began; I sat mildly triumphant at the table coated in orange shavings with all 10 fingers still attached and a pumpkin propped on a dish towel with Spiderman’s face carved into it. A lit candle was placed inside, all the lights off were turned off and I waited to hear Jack’s words of approval. “That’s pretty good Daddy.” Pretty Good? Pretty Good? I felt like I’d gotten a rock in my bag instead of the Mini-Snickers I was expecting.
Amazing what you can do with a nut pick and some determination
I got Jack into his pajamas and brushed his teeth and within minutes he was asleep. While Kathleen continued to Frankenstein baby eagle pieces together I sat on the couch with my dinner, a bowl of re-heated spinach linguine in a congealed scallop and crab cream sauce. Maybe it was that we finally had a moment to ourselves, maybe it was the sense of accomplishment I got from carving the face of a superhero into the skin of a glorified squash or maybe it was the aphrodisiacal properties of the felt eagle wings but I placed my bowl on the end table and seductively approached Kathleen who was holding the beginnings of a feathered skull cap.
Without looking up she flatly mumbled, “If you try to hold my hand, I’ll slug you.”