Halloween -- Pumpkinheads

(H)e hath no form of comeliness;
and when we shall see him
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men. . . .

                                                                      — Isaiah 53:2b,3a


A bunch of us new college graduates had gathered at a local establishment which served festive beverages. We had pretty much taken over the place, which was all decked out for Halloween. It was late on Halloween night.


I must admit, I had overimbibed that night. No, not on festive beverages: on helium. I thought it was . . . a gas. I loved nothing better than to grab a balloon, suck its contents deeply into my lungs, and then, in a ridiculous Munchkin voice, say something rapidly two octaves above middle C, like:


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . . .”


You get the idea. We were young, we were nerds, and we were up to no good.


Well, my beloved, his ex-college roommate and some other guys had grabbed the jack o’lanterns that had been carved for the occasion. It was long after midnight. They didn’t think the business establishment would mind if they took a few post-Halloween souvenirs.


I am relieved to report that they DID think to remove the candles. What they did next was inexplicable, unless you know guys: they cut a hole in the bottom of each jack o’lantern, and wore them out of the place.


Pumpkinheads, walking tall.


In perfect late-night logic, we then proceeded in a caravan of cars to the quiet home of another one of their ex-roommates. He had not joined us for the revelry, because, unlike us, he and his dear wife were serious persons, and in medical school. So they’d skipped the party.


Their relative maturity drew the ire of the Pumpkinheads.


While we embarrassed wives and girlfriends slumped in the cars, holding our heads in our hands, the Pumpkinheads staggered boldly up to the door, hung on the bell, knocked loudly, and shouted “Trick or Treat!” and other things that only sound funny when it’s 2 in the morning, you’re tipsy, and you’re up to no good.


The popular movie of the day, which dates me, but it was a good movie, was “The Elephant Man.” My Beloved staggered about on the porch, quoting the movie’s key line, “I am not an animal. I’m a human being!” while the other Pumpkinheads howled similar epithets.


A light snapped on at the back of the house. Then the porch lights. Then the door burst open. There was our med school friend in his T-shirt and jockey shorts. (Yes, I was peeking.)


We forgot he was a redhead. He gets mad easily.


Thinking they were rowdy vandals, terrorists or psych ward escapees, he PUNCHED the nearest Pumpkinhead, who happened to be my Beloved. He flipped gracefully backwards over the iron porch railing onto his hands and knees on the lawn below. All the while, he was continuing to mutter, “I am not an animal. I’m a human being!”


His pumpkinhead split in two. At that instant, the med student realized who he had just punched – my Beloved — his close friend – ordinarily a dignified, respectable, stalwart young man.


Did he come down off the porch, throw his arm around him, and apologize for the mighty blow which would have surely broken his nose, if not for the two-inch pumpkin shield in front of it?


Did he laugh appreciatively and remark that he should have known who Jack O’Lantern and his friends really were, enjoying the practical joke in the spirit of fun?




I think he and his wife, also in med school, were just enormously annoyed because they had an enormous test the next day. So his heartfelt message to them was something like this:




Like, “You guys are out of your . . . gourds!”


That’s the thing about Halloween, and real life, too. When people or things come at you, you never know who REALLY is behind that mask. And that’s bad, both ways.


Best to make sure people know who you are before you ring their doorbell at 2 a.m.


And best to hold your punches ‘til you find out for sure whether it’s a monster or a friend under there. That is, before you turn their brains into . . . well . . . squash. †

By Susan Darst Williams | www.RadiantBeams.org | Holidays | © 2020