Yesterday, at the behest of my son’s grandparents, I went to the Desert Botanical Garden at Papago Park in Phoenix. We went for the annual Great Pumpkin Festival. It wasn’t horrible, but I don’t really see the point. It’s all so very white. First, we went and saw the butterflies. You go in this cage sort of thing with assloads of Monarch butterflies. I don’t really see the excitement in that.
Then, we walked past bluegrass band number one at the gate to stand in line for the hay-ride to the pumpkin patch. The line was long and it was warm enough to break a sweat doing nothing in the middle of the day. Standing still and sweating is definitely one of my least favorite activities. In this line we were treated to the old-school country tunes spun by one DJ Dana. This girl had the old-fashioned two turntables, a DJ-mixer, and a box of what have got to be some very old records. She didn’t do any fancy DJ-stuff, no cross-fading, no scratching, no talking on the mic even. It seemed a bit odd, and I realized that no matter how much I hate modern country music, I really don’t like old country either. Entertainment in this line was also provided by a girl in a creepy cactus costume. The boy was not impressed. He seemed a bit scared, and I didn’t blame him. Immobility is a feature every cactus ought to have.
When we were done waiting in line, it was time to get on a wagon with hay on it pulled by a tractor. There was one wagon pulled by horses, but we missed out and that one, which is just fine as the boy, like his father, finds machines more interesting than biological entities. The tractor took us to the pumpkin patch, which is really just a piece of ground with tons of pumpkins on it. They didn’t actually grow there. The entrance to the pumpkin patch is a piss-poor hay maze. I suppose it could cause traffic problems if it were an actual maze with long dead-ends, but it seems kind of pointless to even set up if it’s not even challenging for little kids. Then came the pumpkins. Tons of them. Each child of 12 and under gets a free one. There were lots of very small ones and quite a few holy-shit-I-don’t-want-to-carry-that-to-my-car large ones. I seriously considered attempting to juggle three of the smallest I could find, but I chickened out. I can actually juggle, but these tiny pumpkins were still quite a bit larger than anything I’d ever attempted before. Failure seemed likely. The boy found a medium-sized healthy-looking pumpkin rather quickly. I deemed it less than perfect, set it down, and began searching for a better one, only to discover that he had actually picked the best one there. I picked it back up. There were tables set up for decorating pumpkins, but we skipped that. This pumpkin was to be carved. To get back to where we had to go to get to the parking lot where we were parked, we had to wait in line again. This time, entertainment was provided by bluegrass band number two, which seemed more traditional than bluegrass band number one.
On the ride back, we were pulled by a very well maintained bright red Farmall tractor. My grandpa would’ve liked it. Nobody probably cares, but it had a shockingly low idle, and whether this was a feature of the driver or the tractor, the ride was much smoother than the modern John Deere we rode out to the pumpkins. Before leaving with me to gut and carve pumpkins, the boy tried his hand at pumpkin bowling and was award sweet (as in candy) prizes for failing to knock over pins.
The whole experience is just so weird. The place was just full of white people with their sun-hats, and their sunscreen, and their strollers, and their damn t-shirts tucked into their shorts. It really made me think of stuffwhitepeoplelike.com. It’s the kind of scene that makes me feel very out-of-place. I don’t hate white people or anything. In fact, I have piles and piles of white friends. They come to my house. They use my bathroom. I mean, I’m white and all, but I’m not that white. This stuff just makes me feel like a confused alien visitor who cannot make sense of the local customs.
I rate the whole experience neutral. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either.