Carving pumpkins has become a bit of a tradition at the youth center. We haul plastic tables out onto the blacktop, give the teens permanent markers and sharp knives, and let chaos ensue.
I settled in yesterday next to two freshmen boys who were teaming up on one pumpkin. They were alternating between using a stencil to outline their pumpkin, viciously chopping holes without looking, and pulling out the insides and tossing them on the ground, instead of the wastebasket next to them (this is why we do this outside).
I bit my tongue and decided against giving them step by step instructions about how to correctly carve a pumpkin, because hey, it will probably turn out ok whatever they do, right? I started cleaning the pumpkin seeds to roast later, methodically dumping the seedless pumpkin guts into the trash can and watching my fingers turn orange. As we scooped and sliced and cleaned, the boys launched into an unprompted dialogue about their day, each interrupting the other one to clarify a detail or interject an anecdote. They didn’t actually have homework today because they had an assembly with the seniors because the other grades were taking the PSATS and this guy talked about a car accident and he had been drinking and he had two million dollars in medical bills and his friends in the car sued him and ten minutes later, cleaning the same seeds over again, I had heard every detail of this presentation and what they thought about it.
Both boys tried to convince me later that they had in fact done homework that day in order to get a prize.
But their pumpkin looked awesome.