Two years ago, I got a pumpkin for Halloween. I picked it from a patch in Vermont somewhere, roadtripping through northern New England with Kelly. When I purchased it, I asked the girl working the register if its dark green complexion would have any bearing on its livelihood as a pumpkin. I asked because the only other green pumpkin I recall encountering in the past was one my sister had selected when we were both very small, and that pumpkin effectively turned to slime shortly before Halloween.
"No," she said, "it'll be fine."
She was a lying witch.
I took my pumpkin home, sat it upon a coffee table, and lovingly named it Horatio, with plans to carve a marvelous face for him 'pon the weekend before All Hallow's Eve. But Horatio did not survive a full week, and, like his ancestor, turned to slime with record speed. I was devastated.
This past September -- late in September, I recall -- I saw that pumpkins had arrived at the supermarket that's just around the corner from where I live. I selected, securely, an orange pumpkin, of what seemed to be perfect proportions and hardy constitution.
The girl at the checkout gave me a look as she passed my new pumpkin to be bagged.
"Isn't it a little early to be buying a pumpkin?"
"You're selling them now."
And that was that.
I named him Horatio II, and he sat in many places in the kitchen and living room. I did not carve him by Halloween, and decided to leave him intact for Thanksgiving, provided he did not rot. And Horatio II didn't rot. In fact, he turned out to be the very Methuselah of pumpkindom.
December arrived, and there sat Horatio II, emitting no odor, showing no signs of mold, his rind as tough and fresh as ever. January snows piled up in our courtyard, and Horatio II looked on in complete approval. Feburary came and though I finally took my Christmas tree down, I could not bring myself to part with Horatio II. He showed no signs of decline, and it was fun to tell Sarah that he was filled, secretly, with millions of evil beetles. Beetles who would one day be free, and come for her.
And when Horatio II made it to March, I figured he might well last until next Halloween. But on his weekly checkup this past week, mold was discovered, and it had spread by Friday. For all his endurance, the end came quickly. This morning, in cleaning up the apartment to prepare for tonight's car bombs (in honor of St. Patrick's Day), I took Horatio II out to the shed and shot him.
Well, I bagged him and threw him in the dumpster. But it doesn't mean I loved him any less.
He shall forevermore be remembered as Horatio II: The Great Pumpkin, or Horatio the Great for short. Tonight, I will drink to, among many other things, his memory.