Thursday, October 25, 2007

Laissez faire pumpkinomics

I grew up within venial sinning distance of a certain Arlington Catholic high school that receives most of the county’s proudest delinquents after they’ve been permanently excused from the fine public schools. Among other un-pleasantries, it meant we could never have pumpkins on our front stoop until the fully-carved finality appeared on Halloween night. Any appearance prior to October 31st would result in a kicked-in pumpkin and its seedy brains scattered in the road. It was a neighborhood-wide issue. There were meetings.

In the end, my parents decided that it was just easier to not have pumpkins until the very last minute. When they showed up destroyed on Nov 1, at least they died with only a single day's worth of sentiment.

It was not until I got all grow’d up and moved into a semi-respectable and high school free neighborhood that I found out that there are other forces conspiring against wee pumpkins. For the first few day’s I couldn’t noodle out why bits of my poor gourd were disappearing into the Negative Zone. Then I caught those squirrel bastards red handed.

This idea was news to me but it seems like Que Sera, Sera. Squirrels eat pumpkins, what are you gonna do? I mean besides covering them with cayenne pepper or spraying them with hairspray*.

What you do is not buy a pumpkin 3 weeks before Halloween. I understood this basic fact of suburban living. The G did not.

Real world analogy: Say you buy a giant bag of Halloween-size boxes of Mike ‘n’ Ikes three weeks before the big day but open the package so you can have just one. Chances are that by the time the 31st rolls around, that junk is going to be gone. You should consider pumpkins as Mike N Ike’s for squirrels. (Full disclosure: we have about 3 boxes of Mike ‘n’ Ike’s left.)

I allowed the G to live with her mistake for a week while it slowly rotted on our steps. The squirrels got their fill after a few days and the mold and fruit flies moved in. On Monday it collapsed in on itself. Wednesday, it went into the trash. I refused to help. Laissez faire pumpkinomics.

I thought that was that. We all learned a valuable lesson. But this morning some wise guy squirrel took things to the next level. While walking the dog under a large tree, a chunk of pumpkin landed on my head. ON MY HEAD! Where I cut my hair and wear my giant pink helmet!

Escalation announcement received. I used to carry tennis balls around to alert squirrels before the dog could sneak up on them. If they weren’t paying attention, a quick shot across their bow would scare them up into tress. Not anymore. Every squirrel gets a ball, even if it’s already treed.

It's on.

*The former does not work. The latter supposedly does. But please wait until the hair spray is dry before illuminating the pumpkin. Unless you want things to get awesome and quick.

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