Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Embarrassing The Griswolds

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)


All Click said...

haha thanks for kicking off my morning with a laugh, TFG. It didn't sound like you embarrassed yourself to me!

Chris James said...

I can assure you that it was every bit as uncomfortable for turdboy as it was for you. If you let yourself, you can kinda enjoy that fac tthat this may be the first time in a while that you've truly frightened the bejesus out of someone.

As much as my 3rd-wave Feminist indoctrination had me sayin' that I didn't care if the baby was a boy or a girl, a great sigh of relief hit me when I noticed his little baby package right after he was born. "Thank God, now I don't have to buy that knife collection" was probably one of my first coherent thoughts in the delivery room.

Capcitykitty said...

If it's true that you are my contemporary (and save a few years, I think it IS true), then I've got to say that we are... OLD.

Hey. Is the pumpkin house going to be all lit up on Thursday night?

The Film Geek said...

Thanks All Click, but I did. I really did.

Hey Chris: I really did ponder your post for quite a while. And while it's not in my nature to scare kids--really, it's not!--I couldn't help myself from doing it, or from feeling a little good about doing it.

Hey Kitty! I'm the one who is old! Way, way too old! And it pains me to say that, believe me. And yeah, the house should be lit up between now and then. I think I heard them say they take it down November 6th or something like that.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I must say that I actually thought the Pumpkin Gump bit was funny.

Pretty funny...until you continued the sling-pumpkin bit outside of our personal vehicle. And loudly, to strangers.

And then, repeatedly tried to make the boyfriend do the same.

Anonymous said...

Why do you continue to go out in public with him? -Cara

fishing guy said...

Great story, I thought the mixing of Sling Blade and Forest Gump was a natural that should have brought a laugh to anyone who had seen the two movies.
A lot of time being the Dad is hard to accomplish. You end up saying a lot of things you wish you could take back. This wasn't one of those times.

The Film Geek said...

Hey Anonymous #1: :)

Hiya Anonymous #2: 'Cause she loves me. Or, because she has to. Sometimes it's a little of both.

Fishing Guy: Thanks! And how about you, boy? You like some punkins?

Stanton said...

Well, Anonymous, sometimes you can just be too close to genius to recognize it. I nearly died laughing at the Sling Blade bit and have already begun rehearsing for the next time a boy comes calling at my house!

fishing guy said...

I'd like some punkin doughnuts, punkin pie, punkin seeds and some fried punkin if you please.
I think "Forest Gump" is a great movie.

The Film Geek said...

Stanton: you tha man! :) (And thanks.)

Rebecca said...

Hilarious. And scary.

I think I have staved off the girlfriend idea for this year, so I'm hoping we make it a few more before dealing with that awkward moment.

I used to be a teacher though, so I have no moral problems scaring kids.

That pumpkin house looks awesome!! Fantastic picture! Are they lit by candles, battery lights, or plug ins? Are they real pumpkins for fakes?

The Film Geek said...

Hi Rebecca: I appreciate getting me off the moral hook! :)

They are real pumpkins, and lit by bulbs. Over 3,000 of them. Pumpkin robots and huge pumpkin orhestra that plays classical music. You should go!

Barbie Girl said...


I'm hoping to see the pumpkin house tomorrow.