The Ugly Pumpkin

December 9, 2007
By
As a child, there were few activities which excited me more than pumpkin picking. As the trees changed into their autumnal colors and the temperature dipped into the fifties, little else was on my mind besides the rows and rows of pumpkins, all awaiting my critical eye. When the time came for pumpkin picking, I could barely contain my excitement. I envisioned the perfect pumpkin, bulbous and orange, not a bruise or green spot to be seen. It had to be fat and jolly, its face smooth and ideal for carving. But what I found at the pumpkin patch one day was different from anything I had expected.
As I meandered through the heaps of orange, brown, and green pumpkins, even the most beautiful, cherub-faced jack-o’-lanterns-to-be did not catch my eye. I traipsed forth and back, engrossed by the pumpkins which, as I progressed, appeared prettier and more unblemished than those before. But, surprisingly, their magnificent orange skin, glinting in the October sun, did little to mollify my endless yearning for the greatest pumpkin of the bunch. Instead, I found myself drawn to the least popular section of the patch. In a dank, shadowy corner where other customers seldom passed stood a decrepit old stand piled high with the ugliest pumpkins I had ever seen. They were shriveled and misshapen, their flesh splotched with grime and unsightly warts. No one seemed to pay these pumpkins any mind; everyone just seemed to walk right past…everyone except me, that is.
At the very top of this precarious pile was the lumpiest, most rotten pumpkin of them all. Its skin was a mossy green and was encrusted with white, fluffy mold. Its frame was small and crooked, warped by malnutrition and neglect. It was old and shriveled and was speckled with battle scars. I took one look at this wretched, downtrodden pumpkin, and my heart was sold. There was something intriguing about that little rotted vegetable, something lovable about its dilapidated appearance. I felt a stirring of pity within me, and I wanted this pumpkin to be mine. I wanted to hear its stories of how it acquired such gashes and bruises. I wanted to love it and make it my own. I wanted to respect it like no others had before. Even though its appearance differed entirely from the perfect pumpkin I had originally envisioned, I felt that old pumpkin was the most beautiful of all. I bought it with my hard-earned allowance and made a beautiful, though slightly smelly, new friend.
As the years passed, my pumpkin fixation dwindled to be replaced by sports, friends, and school. But there are aspects of that autumn day in the pumpkin patch which have never quite left me. Even now, as I approach the end of my high school experience, I have found that the people with whom I associate every day, the personalities of my family, friends, and superiors, are all personifications of the pumpkin patch so many years ago. In some people, I see the bright, shining perfection of the pumpkin for which I originally longed. These people are happy, innocent, and content, seemingly unaffected by the rigors of life. In other people, I see the shrunken little pumpkin, the one which captured my heart. I see its bruises, its speckles, and its spots. I see its imperfections and vulnerable flesh reflected in their personalities. These people, like the little pumpkin, have had experiences, whether good or bad, which have shaped them. It is these people with whom I am closest, for these people have stories to tell, and I, I love to listen.
I like to think that I too am like that battered pumpkin which sat in the shadows that day. I see myself as a bit blemished, slightly bruised, but all the more worthwhile because of it. I am different because of my imperfections, an individual because of my peculiarities. And just like the beautiful little pumpkin, I have stories to tell, if only the world will listen.





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