Mother never let me have a pumpkin as a child. I remember driving past the pumpkin patch on my way to cello lessons, wanting so badly to run up, down and betwixt the rows of the mysterious vegetables, but always hastily bypassing the farmer’s field. Of course, Mother always discouraged running, too.
I remember seeing pumpkins sitting on doorsteps, faces carved into grotesque alterations of the human face, with candlelight spilling out from their eyes, mouth and nose. They frightened me, but mesmerized me, too. I spent many evenings imagining whose face I would chose to etch into my own pumpkin. While I suppose other children carved their favorite baseball players, or film stars, I always dreamed of carving the features of my favorite author, Richard Henry Dana. Many hours I passed in conversation with an imaginary Richard Henry Dana carved into an imaginary pumpkin. How lucky was I to have such a friend who could keep me awake at night with stories of rounding Cape Horn and trading beaver pelts with Native Americans? Every time I pretended to carve a pumpkin, I always chose Richard Henry Dana, for his stories never grew tiresome.
My neighbors, twin boys named Phillip and D’Artagnan, were always permitted to have pumpkins, and furthermore, were allowed to disguise themselves on Halloween night! From my father’s study I could perfectly see the two boys, dressed as ghouls, warlocks, and wizards, playing tricks on the other neighborhood boys. Oh, how I wished to partake in their tomfoolery! I watched them eat sweets that their mother had cooked for them specially for Halloween. They must have had toothaches from the amount of sweets their mother allowed them to eat.
Mother never let me eat sweets. On one occasion, she placed a decorative candle beside me, and I mistook it for a licorice whip, or peppermint stick, and consumed the entire candle before she had the chance to stop me. While the taste was slightly unpleasant, I must say the thrill of eating something so ornamental was truly invigorating.
As this Halloween approaches, I am filled with the same excitement that I have felt before Halloweens of past. My neighbors have a pumpkin outside their door, and my roommate purchased a bag of sweets! I will most likely spend Halloween night with an old friend, Richard Henry Dana.