Your decomposing pumpkin could threaten mankind

(It’s time for this week’s Flashback Sunday! That special day each week when I wait until no one is looking, then dig into the archives for a while before pulling out something very few have seen. Wait! I know how that sounds and I apologize! I also promise I washed my hands before posting this…)

This weekend, watch for falling pumpkins.
I left the house this morning and made an important realization: What I had assumed was a fleece-lined, bright orange sweatshirt laying crumpled on the front steps was actually NOT a garment at all.

It was our jack-o-lantern.

This realization was made while attempting to pick it up. Though my intention was to give my children a stern lecture on taking care of their clothing, I decided instead to scream uncontrollably after grabbing a handful of pumpkin mucus. Somehow, our pumpkin’s aging process had accelerated, causing it to collapse in on itself and sprout white fur — literally — overnight.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Anyone who hasn’t disposed of their jack-o-lantern by now has witnessed this process, which we can all agree defies the natural laws of physics. One morning, your pumpkin’s face is triangle-eyed and gap-toothed as normal. The next morning, it is Buddy Hackett.

Should the process be allowed to continue, there’s a chance your pumpkin will actually collapse so far in on itself it will create its own gravitational pull and eventually threaten the space-time continuum. To avoid a cataclysmic event ushering in the return of bell-bottom pants, you have a responsibility to the rest of us to dispose of your gourd immediately, even if it means scraping it up with a shovel and transporting it to a government facility.

However, for those of you who remember to dispose of your pumpkin before it contains enough organic matter to become self-aware, you have another option, which is to drive to Milton, Delaware for the annual “Punkin Chunkin World Championships.” There, you will find the kind of excitement one can only get from jettisoning a large gourd as far as possible without the aid of rocket fuel.

The annual event, which has taken place each year since 1986, got started the way a lot of sporting competitions do: by having two men argue over who can throw something the farthest.

In this case, an anvil.

Fortunately, fate (most likely, in the form of a pulled groin muscle) intervened, and Punkin Chunkin was born. In a nutshell, participants use catapults, air cannons and oversized slingshots to hurl large pumpkins over great distances. Last year, Bruce Bradford’s winning toss set a new world’s record but, tragically, took the life of an Amish man during a barn raising in nearby Pennsylvania.

The good news is, Punkin Chunkin is catching on across the U.S.
Soon, you may not have to drive as far as Delaware to chunk your pumpkin! The bad news is, because of growing popularity, you could, at this very moment, be standing in a Punkin Chunkin drop zone. This is similar to standing in a golf course drop zone except, in this case, no one will be yelling “FORE!” before you get hammered with a 10-pound gourd traveling in excess of 60 mph.

Just to be safe, I would avoid going outside until the competition officially ends this weekend. Assuming, of course, there isn’t a sudden shift in the space-time continuum.

In the event that happens and I find myself wearing checkered bell-bottoms, I ask that you please direct me to the nearest Punkin Chunkin drop zone.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, will be released from Port Hole Publications this December. You can write to Ned at, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

34 thoughts on “Your decomposing pumpkin could threaten mankind”

  1. Bleh, a decomposing pumpkin sprouting white fur makes me feel a bit gaggy… like that time I left a coffee filter in the trashcan for like two weeks and it grew tall enough to push the lid open… My screams were enough to get the cops called on us. Might have to blog about that. Might also need to chunk a pumpkin; sounds therapeutic.

    1. I’ve been told I have a gift for words when it comes to describing things that could be mistaken for bodily fluids and secretions. So far, though, the Pulitzer committee has chosen to pass on it as a category.

  2. I give up. I thought I was fairly adept at learning life lessons, but the red wine stain on my off-white sweatshirt clearly proves otherwise. Thank you for the Buddy Hackett comment. I’ll be sure to send you some checkered Bell Bottoms as payback!! 😉

  3. I’d better go and check that pumpkin that’s resting near my front door. It’s been leaning to one side, and I thought it was just resting …. but now I’m guessing that I may find mushy goo under the underside. Guess it won’t last till Thanksgiving, huh.

    1. If it’s still there at Thanksgiving, you might as well set a place at the table for it because it will be self aware and probably feeling left out. And I don’t mean just left outside.

  4. Decomposing Pumpkins?!? Attack of the killer pumpkins!! (picturing the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”) I remember being in Chicago for Thanksgiving and seeing pumpkins on the the steps of many brown stones and squirrels would come out of them!! FAT squirrels! They had eaten all of the insides!! The facade of the pumpkin may have had a toothy grin, but inside was a hollow shell of what it was… – a moment of silence-
    Sadly in Miami we can’t have pumpkins outside… they would only last a three nights… and then they might start to foam and grow legs…also our squirrels are way too shallow and keep their slim physique by only eating low carb foods, lol. Great post!! A wonderful way to start my Monday!

    1. Now I’m picturing Miami squirrels running around in sweat bands and little satin shorts, ala 1980s Olivia Newton John and all those horrible workout clothes! That’s frightening enough to keep me from Florida for the month of October. No wonder they have a three-day curfew for jack-o-lanterns!

      Glad I could start your Monday off with a smile! Still, watch out for the pumpkins…

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