We lobotomized two gourds, the neighbor and I and our three-year-old boys. The two boys were eager to saw the tops off. The neighbor held the handle of the serrated blade so our sons could make the motions. Little Julian struggled with the spoon to scoop out the innards. He didn't like the mess. The membrane and seeds didn't give in easily; they clung together with whatever evolutionary determination had made them so goopy and intertwined. "Reach your hand in, it'll be easier," we told them. The pumpkin smelled rich and organic. Little fruit flies already swarmed the gut bucket, evidence of a truth we didn't put to words; as soon as they are cut, they begin to decompose.
We turned one pumpkin into a droopy-eared grinning dog at their request. The other, with warts, I carved ghoulish. The neighbor's boy took the cap of the pumpkin in his hands. He flicked his tongue and tasted the inner wall. His reaction: Not for eating. The boys are conditioned even now to believe that all things brightly colored are sugar-based or pumpkin-spiced. This was something new. He thought about it. He tried to place it. Then he went in for another taste.