Combat Zone

Dorm jack-o-lantern rots just in time for Halloween


By Anna Graham


In the spirit of the season, people across the city have begun decorating their front windows with fluorescent plastic pumpkins and cartoonish papier-mâché witches in an attempt to excite passers-by about the coming Halloween. Not to be left behind on a trend, students, too, have been scrabbling together Halloween decorations to hang on their doors and windows.

Students Pea Harper and Wally Neverson went the extra mile this year — by buying, gutting and carving a pumpkin from the local Walmart weeks before Halloween. Because of their unusual initiative and excellent foresight, their jack-o-lantern sat outside their door for two weeks and turned green with mold just in time for Halloween. Students on their floor could be seen holding their noses and running past the pumpkin at top speed, no doubt deeply touched by the spookiness and symbolism of the decay.

Un a recent interview, Neverson and Harper noted that, before it rotted, the process of carving the jack-o-lantern was quite intensive. Neverson spent a whole 5 dollars on the pumpkin, nearly depleting his entire bank account in the name of celebration, while Harper traced the outline of a lopsided grin on the pumpkin’s face in washable Crayola marker.
Opting to take the mess of pumpkin-carving outside their room, Neverson and Harper found themselves parked in the middle of a grass lawn as the classic Puget Sound rains began. As the skin of the pumpkin began dripping with condensation, the outlined Crayola marker began to melt into an indecipherable soup. Though most people would be discouraged at the decomposition of such hard work, our young virtuosos found themselves with more room for creative interpretation.

Neverson used that one dull kitchen knife they’d had sitting around for a while to carve off the lid. (The knife — it should be noted — had probably come from the 15th century and was shaped rather like a spoon with an identity crisis. Neverson had bought it from a nearby yard sale for just these types of emergencies.) Next, they scooped out the pumpkin seeds with a plastic fork. Because they had so brilliantly neglected to buy a DIY pumpkin-carving kit, they subsequently attempted to use the spoon-shaped kitchen knife to carve out the jack-o-lantern’s face. It was a rather violent and messy affair — Harper ended up with several small lacerations — but they eventually succeeded in crafting a rather gruesome, grinning, toothless pumpkin. Gruesome indeed, as the pumpkin itself was covered in the blood of its creators.

To ensure that the rest of their immediate community would know about their enthusiasm for Oct. 31, they placed their jack-o-lantern outside of their dorm room door, in the middle of the hallway. As fellow students stepped around it each day on their way to class, they were reminded to sentimentalize the upcoming holiday — especially because Harper and Neverson had maximized the immersion in the Halloween spirit by finishing two weeks ahead of time. Lucy Moon, a resident of Harper’s and Neverson’s hall, was quoted as saying, “Yeah, I guess the pumpkin is pretty cool. But do they realize it’s made out of, like … organic material? Like, that stuff is not going to last until Halloween. Why didn’t they just buy a cheap plastic glow-in-the-dark pumpkin from Ebay? Same freaking effect.”

As the actual date of Halloween began approaching, the jack-o-lantern began growing an impressive greenish fur all along its interior. Several days into this process, the outer walls of the pumpkin began to shrivel and collapse in on themselves, warping the carved face out of proportion. A week and a half later, it began to attract fruit flies.

Neverson and Harper were quite proud of themselves for timing their pumpkin-carving so brilliantly. They noted that the rot really added to the aesthetic of the whole thing and helped contribute to the authenticity of their artistic creation. The smell and appearance of mold added a real aura of death and decay to the hallway, which was a perfect way to spice up the Halloween season. Neverson and Harper plan to continue this tradition for the next few years, or at least until they come up with something even better.