Certain members our quiet Alexandria parish go out of their way each year to destroy Halloween. Some are well-intentioned busy bodies who leave sacks of candy on your doorsteps weeks before the 31st with notes that instruct you to pay it forward forward until everyone in the neighborhood has sacks of candy. (We did not comply because we are shallow and hate forced social interaction) Others are ill-intentioned adult grifters who carry their own adult-sized pillowcases and demand their own candy after their poorly-costumed child have gotten theirs. (An Insane Clown Posse t-shirt is not a costume.)
And then there are the squirrels.
Last year, I mentioned that I was unaware that squirrels craved pumpkin flesh the way Bunnicula craves carrot juice. For a week now, out entire neighborhood has been ruined by the carcasses of jack-o-lanterns. They rot on the sidewalk and are later run over by lawn mowers leaving an orange, pulpy mess on everything. It’s gross.
But it’s also the way things are. Squirrels are going to eat pumpkins because squirrels like tasty things and pumpkins are tasty as shit.* We don’t leave other food stuffs on our front steps and then expect them not to get eaten. In fact, our insane neighbor message board is rife with people complaining about rats and crows and, I swear to God, buzzards getting into peoples trashcans. Why is everyone surprised that our delicious gourds are slowly being gnawed to death after leaving them outside for 3 weeks?
Once I came to accept this fact, I realized there is no reason why someone couldn’t exploit this situation. Why couldn’t man and squirrel work together to create Halloween excitement instead of destroying it? Accordingly, this year I have decided to embrace our furry demolitionist friends. Halloween should be about interspecies teamwork.**
So, without further ado, I present Project Squirrel-o-lantern.
Start with a standard $4.99 Safeway pumpkin.
My contribution was very simple. All we need is your basic eyes, nose, and mouth. I stuck with rectangles because it’s well documented that squirrels hate right angles. My fuzzy associate will do all he can to remedy the sharpness of my design.
Then I just re-introduced the pumpkin into the wild. (I tossed in a few bread crumbs to tempt my partner away from the dozens of other cucurbitaceous temptations around the neighborhood.)
Sure enough, I awoke the next morning to find my Squirrel-o-lantern collaborator hard at work.
Well done squirrel! But I was a little concerned about the oral fixation. The eyes and mouth needed some work too. So I stuffed a gag into the Squirrel-o-lanterns mouth in an effort to encourage other parts of the project to be explored.
Humans find symmetry attractive. They find asymmetry disconcerting. With the obvious effort extended toward making the eyes uneven and unnaturally large, it’s clear that the squirrels in our neighborhood have at least a basic understanding of human psychology. The layering is a nice touch too.
But the real test is to see how it looks when illuminated.
Honestly, I don’t think this could have worked out any better. I think I can safely say that this is the best looking Squirrel-o-lantern ever presented to the trick-or-treating public.
In conclusion, I want to thank my squirrel friend for helping out this year. I know we’ve had a strained relationship in the past. And if the dog ever does manage to catch you or one of your relatives, I will still allow him to violently shake your body until your neck snaps. But until then, know that I respect your talents and look forward to working with you again next year.
*Why is the idea of homemade roasted pumpkin seeds so much better than the reality of homemade roasted pumpkin seeds?
**You ring the doorbell, I’ll light the bag of poo on fire.