Why didn’t I think of that?
Stupid, stupid, stupid. I can’t write anything about pumpkins now—I’ll just look like I’m riding the coattails of this guy. Or the pumpkin vines, I should say. They put the title on a mug and everything and who knows how many people are reminded every morning with their coffee that someone who’s not me has written a hilarious piece that involves pumpkins. Not to mention the seasonal factor. Every year turkey time rolls around, people will remember this piece. I’m screwed. Totally screwed.
“Oh, hey Nate, did you see that piece on McSweeney’s about pumpkins?” Yeah, thanks for reminding me.
“Hey Nate, you should read that gourd thing at the next student reading.” Oh, you think I should? So I can stand in front of my peers and feel the deep sting of knowing I’ll never be able to write about pumpkins, ever? So I can hear laughter at the work of someone else that gets a larger response than any of my work? Sure.
“I really loved that piece about pumpkins,” my dissertation chair tells me. Great—too bad I didn’t write it.
“Welcome to autumn, fuckheads!” More like, “Welcome to being asked the rest of your life if you’ve read the motherfucking gourd piece on McSweeney’s.” This is the worst thing that can possibly happen. I mean, why did this guy have to write about pumpkins anyway? There are plenty of other Thanksgiving-related foods out there. He could’ve written “It’s Cranberry Sauce Season, Motherfuckers,” or “Yum-Yum! Time for Yams, Motherfuckers.” Did this guy not know I was the biggest fan of pumpkin in the lower 48? How could he not? I feel like this is common knowledge.
There’s only one solution I can think of. Based on devotion alone, I think McSweeney’s should just take it down. Or at least “accidentally” erase his name and put mine there instead. I guarantee this guy’s never eaten a pumpkin muffin in his life. Nor does he appreciate the swirl of pumpkin syrup in all sorts of seasonal coffee drinks. Has this guy ever slaved over a hot stove and shoddy blender to make a hot pumpkin soup that was enjoyed by many at Friendsgiving? NO. No way.
I understand grudges, but I did nothing to provoke this guy. If he wants to have it out, we can compare student evaluations—that is, if he teaches, too (which I’m sure he does because he’s already taken pumpkin from me). I’m just an unknown writer trudging through graduate school; I’m a pumpkin in the literary world. By taking my favorite fruit from me, this guy has become a maraschino cherry. “He’s so clever,” people say. “He’s so smart.” Yeah, well, I know the truth, which offers little comfort. Even if he never publishes a piece of writing again, he’ll always have this piece over me. And he’ll have it over me until people stop being interested in decorative gourds and all things autumn, which will be no time soon, fuckheads!
Nate Logan is a pumpkin enthusiast who currently lives in Texas, which experienced a pumpkin shortage a few years ago. His grandma used to call him "pumpkin." If you're interested in more agricultural and sociocultural history about pumpkins, he recommends Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon by Cindy Ott.