Oh My Gourd

When it comes to Halloween, I’m the weirdo who couldn’t care less about candy—I just love dressing up. It started in the early 70s with a handmade pumpkin costume stuffed with newspaper and hit its stride in my late 20s, when I sewed glow sticks to my clothes and paraded down Bourbon Street with a gaggle of gay men.


My first Halloween as a mother, Jude was just a month old. I was doing good to leave the house with clothes on, let alone a costume. But we zipped him up in an adorable monkey suit and I grabbed a banana before heading to a neighborhood costume party where some woman dressed her baby as Curious George and herself as a very convincing Man in the Yellow Hat. I hated her.


Last year, Jude had no idea why I shoved him in a fish costume and took him to strangers’ homes in the dark, but I still felt the pressure to create a holiday atmosphere. The pressure comes mainly from Dom, who loves to share warm and fuzzy recollections about the Halloween décor in his childhood home, then look at me like I should start pulling felt bats out of my ass that very second.


Blood Bath: Last month it was a front-yard fountain. In October, it's a bloody skull.

Blood Bath: Last month it was a front-yard fountain. In October, it’s a bloody skull.

But the pressure was also external. I don’t know how they do it where you live, but the fine folks in my ‘hood do not fool around in the Halloween decor department. They are not stringing up black and orange lights from Target and calling it good. They are, however, dismantling their front yard fountains and putting skulls in the middle of them, then dying the water red so it looks like blood running out of a gash in the top. One family had a black coffin propped up next to their front door. I’m sure when normal, non-crazy people look at this they think, wow, cool, a coffin! I think, who in the hell has room to store a freaking coffin 11 months out of the year? And what are the chances I’d ever go in my basement if it was in there?


It felt like a victory just to carve a pumpkin with a downloadable design, and even then Dom’s hand slipped and we wound up with a grim reaper you could only distinguish if you squinted and thought hard about what a grim reaper should look like. Then the pumpkin rotted about 10 seconds later. So I decided to outsmart everything and shop the Halloween web sales on Nov. 1.


Let me just say that online shopping with a baby on your lap who’s watching Elmo videos on one website while you’re trying to decide between the jack o’ lantern garland and hanging witch’s hat on another website is a bad idea. Plus we had the heat on and were sitting directly under the vent, so I was sweating and a little swimmy headed. Somehow I wound up dropping a C note on a “Fright this way” sign, two garden stakes in the shape of an owl and skull … and something our friends at Pottery Barn Kids called a “jumbo pumpkin.”


Oh My Gourd_pumpkin head

Dom always carves out some time to tease me about my pumpkin purchase.

Fast forward to a week and a half later, when I see the UPS guy lugging a gigantic box up my front walkway. I opened said box, expecting to see everything I ordered, but the entire thing was taken up with my jumbo pumpkin, which is roughly the size of Rhode Island and the wrong combination of goofy and ugly. No tealight is going to light up this sucker; we’ll have to build an actual fire with logs and everything.


But you know what the best part is?  When I opened the box, I heard something I don’t hear often enough—the sound of my own spontaneous laughter. Laughing at my panic decision and online shopping stupidity. Laughing at this ass-ugly thing with some sort of green glitter outlining its nose. Laughing while imagining what Dom was going to say.


You’d think I’d learned my lesson, but the next day I was back online, having to talk myself down from the large vine pumpkin from Crate & Barrel, which promises to “add an autumnal touch to the home.”  That’s more than I can say for the jumbo pumpkin, which no one would steal, no matter how close to the curb we put it.



  1. as usual you are awesome…always look forward to reading your “stuff”…been on the go lately, I hope I have not missed any !!! THANKS FOR THE LAUGHS….

  2. I really loved the part about you pulling felt bats out of your ass. I am still laughing at that image.
    Thanks for the laugh on a dreary day here in PA.

  3. As usual you made me laugh and I think Dom looks terrific!

  4. Sandy Koentop says:

    You get me laughing, Girl! So funny!

  5. katherine dirga says:


  6. Hahaha! That is great!

  7. I kind of like the jumbo pumpkin. It’s kind of kitschy.

  8. So awesome! Snorted a little at the coffin part…

  9. I am sitting here at 1:30 a,m absolutely screaming in laughter. No, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that “l’il’ pumpkin being stolen. I’ve been looking at that thing and trying to figure out some way to make it look better. My mind is blank. Other than painting the whole outside of your house ‘Halloween Orange,’ I don’t think anything is going to take away from the looks of that pumpkin. Happy Halloween, anyway. 🙂

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