Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I've Been Punk'd

A few weeks back, we decided to take the kids pumpkin picking. I called my folks to let them know we were coming up by them, and asked if they wanted to meet us at the highway robbery store, I mean the farm.

I grabbed some denim jackets and we headed up to the farm. Where we froze our asses off in the 42-degree temperatures of the bucolic countryside. My parents, who were bundled for the Antarctic, met us at the place -- which was overrun by 50,000 people looking for cheap pumpkins (reality: $25 per) and a hayride -- then conveniently "remembered" they were meeting friends later and were overcome with an extreme need to beat it the hell outta there.

We all left, with nary a punky, and went to a dollar store. My mom got the kids some little trinkets and candy while Mike and I recovered from frostbite and considered our options: find another farm nearby that's not impersonating Grand Central Station, or take the kids for a rollicking ride to the supermarket, where they could pick pumpkins out of a giant cardboard box in the produce aisle.

We said good-bye to my folks, and were seriously heading back to the highway home, when I remembered another, smaller, farm. A little pick-your-own place. We pulled in, and it was set up with the hay rides, the barbecue, the farm store--but no Times Square-like crowds.

With our frostbite re-commencing, we climbed on the free hayride. I asked the driver where we could get pumpkins. "I'm driving you to them," he replied, amiably. One long bumpy ride later, we were in a field with all the pumpkins still attached to their vines. We were cold and hungry so we wanted to pick the perfect pumpkins as fast as we could. Cue Ryan and his bathroom dance.

Me: "Why didn't you go when we were up by the farm stand?"

Ryan: "I didn't have to go THEN."


He ran to the end of the field behind a pile of logs, did what he had to do, and ran back out, unable to do his snap with his jacket in the way. I bent down, got him fixed up, and we re-joined Mike and Cara. Four or five pumpkins later, we got on the hay ride back, and our thoughts turned to thawing out as the sun sank into the western sky.

That's when I realized I didn't have my sunglasses. I tried to appear calm as I frantically patted every pocket of my denim jacket, checked down my shirt and rummaged through my purse, all while balancing pumpkins between my feet. My Maui Jim's, my favorite shades. A classic style that was just discontinued this summer!

Me: "I have to go back to the pumpkin field."

Mike: "Have you been drinking?"

Me: "I lost my sunglasses in the pumpkin field."

Mike: "The sun is going down, the field is full of vines. Did I mention I was tired of this day about three hours ago?"

Well, we ALL got on the next ride out to punkin' patch. We ALL trampled around the vines and pumpkins. Mike and Ryan went to where Ryan relieved himself, but came up empty. Mike was like, "We have to leave. It's getting dark. This is a bust." He started railing about sunk costs and recovery probability.

I was like, "I'm checking that log pile one more time."

And there they were, right near the pile of logs. Frankly, I have no idea how Mike and Ry didn't STEP on them.

I was so grateful that when Ryan said he wanted to do the pumpkin bullseye when we got back to the farm, I was like, "Fine, do it."

...We couldn't just leave, could we?

The pumpkin bullseye was $1 a pop. You put mini pumpkins in a slingshot cable, pulled the cable back as far as you could, and let it rip, seeing if it could hit a board in the middle of a field.

Well, since the frost bite had gone to our brains, Cara and I decided we'd join Mike in pulling the slingshot. Mike goes, "We let go on 'three.' One (we strained backwards), two (we strai...)...." BOOM! He let go. Cara and I hit the ground. Every one of my fingernails was shredded. Cara was reeling with hay and dirt in her hair.

Me: "If that isn't a signal to get off this farm...."

We immediately headed to the nearest restaurant, with a bar.

Catherine Schetting Salfino