Saturday, October 29, 2011

pumpkin patch attempt number three - GONG

[Gong is a reference to The Gong Show from the 70's and 80's, where they gonged a large bell when a talent act was bad. Got that from Melissa. This was definitely a Gong experience.]

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If you haven't read our sad story of being in Bismarck a few weeks ago, a story that included a closed zoo and a closed pumpkin patch two days in a row (the main reasons we drove to Bismarck), you might want to. Otherwise, re-read that last sentence, and you'll be good to continue on to this update.


I decided to try again, this time in the city of Minot, optimistic that not all pumpkin patches in North Dakota are crumby with a capital CRUMB. Boy, was I wrong. In fact, this particular pumpkin patch couldn't have been any crumbier unless it was situated in a pit of venomous snakes who, as a side talent, could scream out your most embarrassing moments.

After a long day of shopping, during which we didn't find much of what I'd gone to Minot for, we headed through the chilling wind and unmarked construction detours for the pumpkin patch. As soon as we pulled in to the driveway, my anticipation evaporated. I knew we were in the right place, because there was another family walking around in a field of 7 or 8 pumpkins. A lady stood next to one of those super cheap sheds you can buy at Lowe's for like $99. I got out of the car and asked if they were open. "Yep, yep!" she said through frozen lips, and I could tell she was mustering up enthusiasm that she did not, in fact, naturally possess. "Well," I said, "Tell me what there is to do here. And 'doing cartwheels in this empty field' doesn't count as an activity, heh heh, because we could have stayed home and done that." I didn't say the cartwheel part. Dangit. Anyway, I could see exactly what there was to do here [nothing], but I wanted her to say it, wanted her to admit to me and my children that her pumpkin patch was ridiculous. But instead she kept up her pretend excitement and said, "Well! You go out into the patch! Pick what pumpkins you want!!! Bring 'em back to me to pay!!!! Aaaaaand..." At this point I'm waiting for the grand finale, the punchline, I dunno, anything, and she goes, "Aaaand, have fun!"

What proceeded next was one of my most bizarre, conflicted parenting experiences to date. I didn't want to act as disappointed as I was, arching my back, throwing myself to the ground, flopping my legs about. You know. But I also didn't want to act like, Tuh-DUHHHH! We're here! The long-awaited pumpkin patch!! or Zoralee would've been from that point forward confused about the meaning of phrases like, "this is gonna be so cool!" and "this oven is hot" and everything else I've ever said. I have never been as at a loss for how to respond as I was right then.

I was trying to get a read on Zoralee's perception of the situation when the other family came back to their car, parked next to us. The dad said to the kids, "Did you have so much fun?!?" And the kids go, "Yeah!!" I looked them over for signs of being, you know, space aliens, and dumb ones at that, but saw no antennae or tails. What the crap?! These people would go into a familial fit of bliss if they ever saw a real pumpkin patch. What else don't they know about? Cotton candy? Electricity? As they loaded up, the dad said, "Do you want to carve our pumpkins when we get home?" The kids yelled, "Yeah!! What are we gonna carve them with?" Dad: "Our laser vision! ha ha! Just kidding. A knife, silly!"

I looked over at Zoralee. She had heard them talking and was now excited too. But there was nothing exciting for her darting eyes to land upon. I thought my heart would break. Even now, as I re-tell the story, there wells up in me a tremendous, gross emptiness. Watching your kids be disappointed is THE WORST. Truth of the matter is, Zoralee was only one year old at her last (and only) pumpkin patch, so she's only going off of photographs. Still, you can probably tell by her tentative stance in this first photograph that she too didn't know to respond when I encouraged her to stand by the prettiest, fall-est thing around - a long stalk of dried out corn. She may have also been wondering why I allowed her out of the house in a mock fur coat and sweat pants, but I digress.

I'm trying to describe just how pathetic of a scene this was, but you know what? Just look at the pictures. I mean, no, I didn't Photoshop pumpkins OUT of the pictures. It was just this measly. If you haven't been to a pumpkin patch yourself, browse some family blogs - everybody's at pumpkin patches this time of year. You'll see a lot of orange in the photos. A lot of sincere smiles. A lot of apple cider and hay bales and wagon rides. Vendors. Farm animals. And best of all, a lot of pumpkins, yo.

Quintuple yay - FIVE pumpkins to choose from!
Make that four! One of them is obviously rotting! Weee!
The pumpkins were being picked up and taken inside, as a freeze was anticipated.
I asked if we could get onto the flatbed for a photo.
Truthfully, I brightened up the pumpkins a little with photo editing. 
Otherwise, it would've been too sad for any of you readers to bear. 

I have never in my life understood the appeal of taking one's children to a place like Disneyland. I just don't dig big, man-made, cartoon-themed experiences. But you know what? Now I get it. I'm there. I understand. You want to take your kid to a place they are guaranteed to be awed, guaranteed to have their anticipation dwarfed only by their glee. They should be awed at the Grand Canyon, but until they reach a certain age, they simply won't be.

On the way out of town, we stopped in at Subway for a sandwich. I wanted to eat in the car, make some headway for home, but Z begged to eat at the tall tables with tall stools. She was sincerely stoked about it, and like a fool, I still almost insisted we take it to go. Then I realized that her excitement [over eating at a tall table] was the exact emotion I'd been wanting to witness in her. Duh. So, we ate at the tall table, Ziah poised on my knee.


And with that, my friends, our pumpkin patch saga draws to a close. Thanks for tuning in and sharing with me a sense of dread and dismay at the state of the world. Happy coming winter!


Rena said...

I wondered the same thing as Zoralee did about her mock fur coat and sweatpants attire. However, her Grandma Maxine would have been proud...her type of outfit exactly! (And Larry thought she looked just fine, which proves my point I think.) I did notice that there were some ears of corn that Z could have picked instead of a pumpkin. Didn't you think of that? It would have totally redeemed the day ☺

Rachel @ Lautaret Bohemiet said...

Oh, sister. I haven't laughed this hard in ages. Months, probably. I am not joking. I laughed so loud and hard that the whole house came a'runnin to see what the hub-ub was about, and then I got to read this out loud to them. Man. Man, sister. I mean, just, man.


We also have gone to TWO dumb pumpkin patches lately, but we first went to an awesome one, so I can't complain. And now, looking at this one, I see that all three that we went to were actually AWESOME. I'm so bummed for you! I wish Zoralee could come here so desperately and go on a hay ride and see thousands and thousands of pumpkins and all that jazz.

I love Zoralee's outfit! I think she looks totally stellar! I'm with dad. But her FACE in that photo is the bomb diggity. That face is so awesome.

Sorry about your patchin' experience. North Dakota sucks !@$%$.

Cam said...

North Dakota sounds like a place where bad things happen to good people (often)... appears the pumpkins already learned this and "peaced-out." I'm sure the zoo animals would have too, but they are caged.

melissa said...

Triple boo! Poor Zor... but awesome family stories for the future, and good blog fodder =) Better luck next year! You could be super self sufficient and grow your own patch next year?!

Caryn Ouwehand said...

Boo. Silly bad pumpkin patch.

We have an amazing pumpkin patch near Red Deer... I've never been to a bad one, but yeah, that looked sucky.

2 Moms of a Feather...Stick Together said...

Laughed @ the photo and comment about Zoralee.
But we must take these kind of photos for our children to look at when they are grown. Ha,ha.
Take care,
BTW...did you come home with a pumpkin?

Rachel @ Lautaret Bohemiet said...

Neither David or Linda are much for commenting on blogs, but they both read this and also laughed out loud. This was really hysterical.

I mean, I DO feel bad for Zor. Her disappintment pains me. But after skyping and hearing her call the pumpkin patch "nice", I feel like, hey, she's okay, so we can all laugh a bunch about it.