I’m writing, of course, about pumpkin-related vandalism. People speculate that those persons smashing pumpkins for no useful purpose are “jerks.”
It’s a crime as old as oxen theft, as ugly as a shaved cat and as inexplicable as the plots to every one of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies since “The Sixth Sense.”
It’s also as sure a sign of the season as falling leaves and rising home-heating fuel prices.
I’m writing, of course, about pumpkin-related vandalism.
Every year at this time, local police logs are littered with pumpkin-related vandalism entries like so many… well, like so many vandalized pumpkins littering our neighborhoods.
What is it about this orange gourd (ironically a member of the squash family) that can incite evil in passersby? It’s clearly time for a scholarly look at this phenomenon.
But until we can locate a scholar (where do they go this time of year?), I’ll have to take a look at it myself.
There are those who theorize that it’s the pumpkin’s vibrant orange hue that can madden an otherwise normal human being, much like the color red can enrage a rodeo bull, or the color rustic taupe can excite an interior designer.
There are critics of this theory, though, who point out that other orange-colored produce, like oranges for instance, don’t seem to tempt people into smashing them against mailboxes. (A federal crime, it should be pointed out.)
Then there’s the jack-o’-lantern postulate. Its adherents adamantly maintain that people on pumpkin violence stems (no pun intended) from early childhood trauma. The thinking goes that people driven to attack pumpkins are seeking pay back from jack-o’-lantern-related frights experienced in their youth.
There are the critics to this theorem, as well, who note that most children are frightened in their earliest youth when their photos are taken with Santa. Yet they don’t go around bashing department store Santas about the face and neck upon reaching adulthood.
Next we come to the “Peanuts” hypothesis. This is a conjecture revolving around Linus’ inability to ever meet “The Great Pumpkin” in the delightful, iconic comic strip penned by Charles Schulz. The frustration experienced by those who sympathize with Linus’ plight manifests itself years later in acts of pumpkin-related carnage.
Once again, however, there are detractors. They point out that nothing could be more frustrating than when Charlie Brown would be suckered into a place-kick attempt by Lucy time and time again. As many of us recall, Lucy would always pull back the football at the last instant and Charlie Brown would end up on his back. Yet, it is rare that footballs are shredded on someone’s front stoop, thrown against their car or smooshed in the middle of the street or sidewalk.
Finally, we come to the “jerk proposition,” also known as the “knucklehead premise.” Simply put, proponents speculate that those persons smashing pumpkins for no useful purpose are “jerks.”
This theory has been gaining wider and wider acceptance.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham office, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.