The Film Geek family gulped down its dinner and threw the dishes in the sink Monday night. It's Pumpkin House time, baby, and we don't miss a minute!
The couple of nights before Halloween sees plenty of traffic at the house, as many as ten thousand each evening. So we took off just prior to dusk, hoping to beat the crowd. And the plan worked; I was able to find a parking place nearby on the street, avoiding this year the dreaded Kenova cops and pissy neighbors. We unloaded the van and headed toward the orange glow, along with several hundred more who had the same bright idea.
This year, though, we took the 12-year-old boy who calls himself my daughter's "boyfriend."
I'd been asked earlier to be on my best behavior, by both my daughter Maddisen and my wife. By "best behavior," of course, they mean be quiet and leave the poor kid alone. I promised I would, although I doubted I could.
For the first 15 minutes or so after picking him up, I didn't say a word after "hello." And neither did he. There was something strange and too unusual about my daughter having a date, even if it was more a quasi-date than a real one. I turned the radio up louder than usual, and settled into listening to Mrs. Film Geek talk to him about school, his grades and his family. The longer the quiet and polite small talk went on the more uncomfortable I became, until I blurted out in my favorite faux-dumb guy voice (which is similar in sound and rhythm to Karl Childers talking about his sling blade):
"Hey boy: you like some punkins?"
Nothing. The kid said nada. And no one else did either.
"I said hey, boy. You like some punkins?"
"I guess so," the kid said.
"I like me some punkins" my inner-Karl Childers said out loud. It was less a reply than it was a monologue. "Some like squash better 'n punkins, but I favor punkins. You can make lots of things outta punkins: punkin' bread, punkin butter', punkin' soup, punkin' jelly, punkin' wine..." The list went on and on like that shrimp guy in Forrest Gump. By the time we got to the Pumpkin House I had embarrassed myself, my wife and my daughter Maddisen. The only one who seemed to think it was funny was my daughter Griffyn, who seems to share my sense of humor.
We got out of the van, and the older kids split fast. I didn't blame them.
While walking around in the dark I was reminded of a terrific post by Huntington blogger Chris James, in which he touched on the difficulty he has with small talk. I share the difficulty. I can do it if I must, but it's always such a chore I'll avoid it when I can. Even if it means using a fake dumb guy voice and embarrassing my family.
Later that evening we were invited into the actual Pumpkin House to warm the kids by the fire. The house is 150 years old, and filled with memorabilia and items that have great, historical stories. My wife has been in the home many times, but the kids and I have not so we received a quick tour. It was dark in the house, and all the antiques seemed to glow a dull orange from the 3,000-plus pumpkins outside. After the tour was over, my four-year-old son Jaden tugged on The Pumpkin Lady's leg, and when she looked down into his sweet face he said:
"Your house scares me."
Just like his old man.
(Photo by Ric Griffith)