The Return of Pumpkin Face

I ran into Pumpkin Face coming out of school. He’s the terror kid who hit me on the shin with the grim reaper’s scythe at the Halloween party for our children and went on to terrorize everybody for three hours.

Well, he stopped me and said, “Can I come over to play.”

“Well, not today,” I said.


“Well, maybe.”

My wife overheard the conversation and came up and pulled me away. She said, “I’d rather eat my own sick than let him come over.”

Me too.

Pumpkin Face

This was our first big party for our children – Halloween.

Twenty kids, most of them under six, came as grim reapers, High School Musical characters, Power Rangers, princesses and lots of witches. Three came as Spiderman. They were dropped off, came in the house and brushed past us, hurrying out to the garden-cum-forest and the bouncy castle, slide, swings and the Wendy house.

I got a handful of boys to play football. Dribble, kick, shoot. Fun and laughs for a couple of minutes.

Then a tussle, a shout and a punch out. I pulled a Power Ranger off a grim reaper and told him not to hit.

They listened, got up and started up the game again. Fun and laughs, a tussle and then punches again.

“Don’t do that,” I told the Power Ranger.

I looked at the clock. Two hours and 34 minutes left of the party. Uh ho.

Then a pudgy kid arrived with a pumpkin mask. He stormed through the house grabbed the grim reaper’s hard-plastic scythe and started slicing and dicing kids. In the spirit of Halloween. Slice and dice. Kids ran up to me and complained and showed me their owies.

I walked over to Pumpkin Face and said, “Don’t do that.”

He looked at me grimly and then went for me. Hit me on the shin. Man! That hurt. I looked at him and said, “Give that to me now.”

He said, “No. I’m playing with it.”

I said, “Now.”

He said, “No.”

Slice and dice. The kids watched as I wrestled the scythe out of his hands. He flung me a screw-you look and ran off to the bouncy castle, grabbing a witch’s broomstick on the way.

“Take that. And that. And that,” he cried as he flogged the broomstick around.

Kids rushed out of the castle, fleeing Pumpkin Face. Bang, bang, bang. I hurried over and stuck my head into the castle and said, “Don’t do that.”

He said, “I’m not listening to you.”

And I said, “Give that to me now or else.”

Then I thought, or else what? You can’t ground him or ban TV or send him to bed.

So I said, “If you don’t give me that then… then you’ll never play here again.”

He said, “So what. Who cares?”

That’s when my wife came to my aid. She handed me the baby, crawled into the castle and wrestled the broomstick off of Pumpkin Face.

He shouted and gave her a dirty look and then rushed out of the castle and took a hard-plastic wand off an unaware witch. Swish, swash. Swish, swash. Bang, bang, bang. Swish, swash. Kids jumped out of his way and I looked at the clock. Two hours and 14 minutes to go.

My Car’s So Dirty That…

It’s almost impossible to be car proud in Pinamar.

Dirt, sand, pine needles and heaps of yellow pollen. My car has it all, inside and out, in this beach town in Argentina. The weekend comes and I think, time to wash the car. The weekend goes and I think, next weekend.

I once took it to the wash and forgot to fetch it. When I finally brought it back sparklingly shiny, the workmen at the house applauded. “Bravo. We thought you’d never clean it.”

Well, to my satisfaction a friend in a similar situation – he surfs and has kids – outdid me.

“That’s nothing,” he said about my vehicle. “My car is so dirty that I have to dig the pedals out of the sand before I can drive.”

His wife looked at me solemnly and said, “It’s true.”

He held the title until we had a guest. We were driving around town and something crawled over my foot.

“What was that?” My wife looked at me and said, “That better not be.”

But it was. A cockroach.

We stopped. She got out with the kids and left me to it. “Get rid of that thing.”

I hunted it down through the litter of Cheerios, French fries, M&Ms and bits of McDonald’s burgers and lettuce and sesame-seed buns on the floor, between the seats and underneath the kids’ car seats. It takes some doing to stab a cockroach with a ballpoint pen. But I did it and flicked the carcass out the window, sat back and called up my friend. “You’ll never believe this, but…”