The winning entry:
(Note the "decorated" -- nay, not carved! -- pumpkin by my 4-year-old clown head.)
When I was a kid, we never carved pumpkins. We decorated them. I'm not sure if my mom didn't want to be bothered, or if she decided (wisely) that with six kids running around, knives would be best kept in the drawer.
I carved my first pumpkin my junior year in college. From that experience, I learned you need to angle the knife when you cut out the pop-top so it doesn't fall in. I also learned that if you leave it up on the TV too long, and you wonder in a few weeks what that stink-ass smell is filling up the dorm room, that you should look at the pumpkin first before rummaging around trying to find out what died, or blaming your roommate for the foul odor.
I've gotten pretty good with pumpkins, especially due to my old pottery tools and the now ever-present pumpkin-carving kits.
The office holds a pumpkin-carving contest each year, with five categories: Most representative of department; Most comical; Most original; Scariest; and What the hell is that?
This year, when the 15 pumpkins were laid out for the taking, there was one white one. I guess technically it was some sort of gourd and not a pumpkin. Thinking that starting off with a differently abled pumpkin would automatically give me a step-up, I spirited it off to my desk. Thereupon began my second-guessing: WHAT would I make out of a white pumpkin? And it seemed pretty hard, whereupon I enlisted everyone around me to come tap on my pumpkin and advise me whether I was being foolish, and whether I had chosen an uncarvable pumpkin.
The jury was split, but I went with my friend T., who said, "Come on, take a chance!"
At the flea market the Sunday before the Halloween-day contest, I picked up a curly-haired blond wig along with a pink fur neck wrap. On the way home Monday night, I stopped at Walgreen's and purchased some false eyelashes.
When I got home, I soon found that the naysayers had been right: Once I carved the pop-top (at an angle!), I discovered that the walls of the white pumpkin were about three times as thick as a traditional pumpkin. So I cleaned it out, popped back the top, and began to draw.
Thus my Marilyn Monroe pumpkin was created: Complete with false eyelashes, wig, fur stole, earrings. I sat it on a box draped with an old white slip and placed a fan beneath it, causing the slip to flutter a la Marilyn in "Seven Year Itch."
And I won the Most Original category!
The prizes were 1.5-pound boxes of See's Candy. I chose the peanut brittle. I am so afraid of what it will do to my diet, it is locked in my car trunk.
I won! I won!