November 26, 2009

Notes on a Phenomenon

Once there was a man and on his shoulders he had, instead of a pumpkin, a head. Nobody ever discovered why he thought this was wrong; everybody they ever saw had on their shoulders a head, and the world never offered the faintest suggestion that this should be otherwise.

           Constantly the man would persist:

           “Why have I been cursed with this human head? Why couldn’t I be born with the alluring orange of a pumpkin?”

Then he would retire for days on end, and so a routine developed between the small village and its eccentric mascot. Indeed, as every year progressed, the man would seem to be overcoming his pumpkin preoccupation; but then Halloween would strike. Everywhere the man went, grinning pumpkins haunted him, silently exalting in their possession of what was most dear to his heart, yet far from his genetic reach. His predictable torment would begin again.

           Then one day, the small village began to comment: the man had been gone, not for days, but weeks now. Later, some neighbours claimed to have frequently heard from the man’s house an interminable trickling of water; some claimed that, night and day, all his rooms were constantly lit. Regardless of what was said, nothing was done.

           On a snowy 2nd of December, what was left of the man emerged; and on the shoulders of what was left of the man, there rode the head of a pumpkin. The villagers couldn’t make any sense of it: like a pumpkin, the man remained mute; like a pumpkin, the man didn’t listen to what people said. Gradually, the small village’s hesitance toward the hybrid yielded to reluctant acceptance. It wasn’t until shortly after a group of children were heard screaming that anyone gave a thought to the original head.

           Playing in the field, racing over furrows, between corn stalks, and onto the pumpkin patch, the children had been ebullient. But amongst the pumpkins, one of the children had nervously approached something unusual; his nervousness plunged into terror, when a planted head said, ‘hello’.

           Immediately, the people attempted to inform, interrogate, and complain to, the body last seen with the head; but the pumpkin-pate, motionless and placid, continued its stare into the distance. Seeing no other course of action, it was decided that the obscene eyesore must be uprooted. The seven strongest men in the village heaved: up came the human head: then its unanticipated vegetable body.

           And this is where the biographer’s duty grows most fraught; for which story do you follow, the head, or the heart? I remain undecided.

You have been reading: The Despair of Normality, or Wouldn’t Life Be Better With A Pumpkin For A Head?

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