Monday, March 13, 2006

There are some who believe our world is nothing more than a huge pumpkin carted around the universe by an even larger girl-like deity. They believe further that the universe itself is an infinite maze of supermarket aisles and shelves, each item on the shelves a world of its own. How could anyone prove that one way or the other? You might enjoy endless night-time hours of pumpkin pie and coffee, philosophizing with your friends about it, and never reach a satisfactory conclusion. And when the pie and coffee ran out, you'd have to go to the supermarket and buy some more. That's what happened to Eugene following an especially intense debate on these matters of deeper magnitude. He wandered off, slightly unbalanced, to arrange for a continuation of caffeinated drinks and bites of pie. When the girl with the pumpkin idled into his path, he bowed humbly before her and offered her his grocery cart.

Story #344

These stories have all been reposted at indeterminacies.blogspot.com. Also: read Mushroom's story. It's impressive.

Postscript: I've published a new translation of a remarkable Tucholsky text, called "What If..." at the Tucholsky blog.

35 comments:

viruswitch said...

Masha and her friends were determined to hold the biggest party that their neibourhood had ever seen. The 31st of October was an excellent day for a not only big but unusual party as well. Masha's boyfriend Tom, had figured out everything. He thought that with the right decoration, the costumes and a bit of mystery in the air, success was certain! As they were in a shop buying all the neccessary materials, Tom stopped for a moment and asked Masha to stand still with the pumkin in her arms. He visualized her in a witch's costume with a broomstick in the hands and a pointed black hat. "Splendid" he said. "Now all we need is to get rid off your blond hair, where is the "Schwarzkopf" Department?"

roachz said...

This is a job for Wallace and Gromit!!!! Protect your vegetables!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Mushroom said...

Mariska decided one November morning that she was going to build herself a boyfriend. All the blind dates, friend recommendations, online chatting, and hanging out at Starbucks waiting for something to happen was turning out to be all for naught and quite disappointing. She had been half-awake dreaming that morning of the plan, and when she got up she committed it to serious thought then composed a shopping list of what she would need. She wasn't solid on all the details, but she knew she would need specific things to get the result she sought:

• A pumpkin for the body, but it couldn't be wider than it was tall. She wanted brawny, not fat.
• A pomelo for a head, because canteloup didn't have the right skin texture for her.
• A large beet for a heart, because he needed a big heart. She grinned, thinking "heart beet".
• A cabbage for a brain. The shape and intelligence level of it mattered; she didn't want a stupid guy but she did want one who she would be smarter than and he would sit in awe of her.
• Two fresh hulled lychees for eyes. She could use food coloring to make them pretty, and being imported they would lend a bit of mystery and worldliness.
• Gummi-candy lips, because they should be soft and pliable and feel good when she kisses them, plus they should taste sweet.
• Two medium-sized florettes of broccoli for ears, because he needed to be a good listener.
• Angel-hair pasta for hair, which she could leave in its natural gold or dye red with tomato sauce; she'd figure out which she preferred later.
• Two firm fresh baguettes for lower arms plus two heavy French loaves (without the garlic butter the bakery usually put in) for muscular upper arms, which she could wrap around her.
• An English cucumber for... you know. She didn't put that at the top of her list but she knew it was one of the things she'd want from a man so she might as well get that part right. She thought about getting a couple pearl onions to make the image more correct but didn't want to take any chances so she decided to leave him neuter.
• Two casaba melons for hips... she wanted a smooth, firm backside to hold.
• Two long butternut squash for thighs, with a couple more baguettes for legs. She wanted muscular-looking but not strong enough to walk away from her.

She bought a bag of Kraft wrapped caramels (with the package of sticks inside for caramel apples) to join the parts together, powdered sugar to dust him with to make him tasty, a bundle of fresh peppermint to make him exhilarating, a chunk of ginger root to make him sharp, and a scoop of dried chamomile flowers from the bulk bin to make him calm. As she thought of things she wanted in a man as she strolled down each aisle looking carefully, she added them to her cart. And she spent the rest of the evening constructing her dream man. It was hard work but she got him together, and the first couple nights she propped him up in her room but didn't put him in her bed because she didn't want to rush things. He needed to want her first, and when they agreed after they'd gotten to know each other better, then she'd invite him to lay with her.

They had a happy time together through the month and into December. She'd never been more happy in her life; she not only had a man of her choosing, she had a man of her design. He didn't argue, he didn't go anywhere without her and she was free to leave him at home when she wanted to, and unlike other guys he didn't say a word about anything she ate. She found him quite tasteful, and she enjoyed nibbling on him passionately in the darkness. This was the man she wanted, and she was looking forward to Christmas when she could introduce him to her family... she didn't know what they'd think of him, but she figured that her folks would think despite everything he was a far cry better than some of the guys she'd dated. He was good to her and he was good for her, rich in warmth and vitamins, and there was nothing artificial about him.

On the morning of December 24, she woke up ready to put him in the car and take him to meet her family. But something was different about him. He wasn't his usual crisp self -- he was soft, damp, and had poor color. His eyes were hard and his middle was folding inward. His arms and legs had a green fuzz and his ears and brain were going flaccid. The sugar-based components of his body, especially the joints, were becoming syruppy. He was going bad just when she needed him most, just like so many of her relationships, and she realized that like those relationships they were only meant to be temporary when she had hoped for them to last. This one was different; she knew the expiration date all along, and he'd never told her anything different. She laid down next to him in the bed and cried for a few minutes, until she got the hopes and tears out of her, then decided that she must be strong and carry her wilted lover to his grave, the compost heap at the edge of the yard. It was near enough to her bedroom window that she knew where he was lain, but out of sight so she didn't have to see their love decompose. She took him there, said a goodbye prayer, got herself composed for visiting her family, and when they asked where her boyfriend was she told him: he had his day in the sun, and their love had been wonderful but the ripeness passed and things got stale.

In May of the next year, she was taking some kitchen scraps out to the compost pile and saw something that amazed her: her boyfriend was no longer there, as far as she could tell, but there were vines all over the pile, and by the leaves she could tell that they might be squash and cucumber and pumpkin. Her heart leapt and a tear streamed out of each of her eyes when she realized one of the pumpkin vines had a single bloom, small but orange-yellow, in the shape of a heart.


[No, Indie, this picture wasn't hard to write for at all. Now I need a Kleenex.]

its_baxter said...

ohh, this is fun...

maybe she's always been the "goody goody" of her group of friends. she finally decides to take a dare from her friends to steal something from the store. never doing anything like this before, she's nervous as anything; checking all around her and waiting until she thought no one would see her. in a quick manner, she reaches for the first thing she comes in contact with, the pumpkin. (not your regular "item" to steal, and not an easy task to do, either: hide a pumpkin under your shirt to steal, but in her mind, it was clever. and now that she'd grabbed it, she had to follow through with it.) all her friends are waiting outside with the "get-a-way" car. they're wondering what's taking so long. they figure she chickened out. they knew she wouldn't be able to do it.

her best friend goes in to check on her. she walks in to find the "theif" crying at the front with the manager. she was caught. her first attempt, and she was caught.

the photo: "angel tries to steal pumpkin"

why in the world would you steal a pumpkin?

Doug said...

Courtney suffered watching the prize pumpkin she'd grown for 4H carved into a jack-o-lantern. She sobbed as the stem was cut, wept as the seeds were drawn and shook with anger as the face was carved into the flesh. She made her pumpkin a promise. This promise: That she would dedicate her life to liberating pumpkins from their oppressors.

Indeterminacy said...

I'm glad I finished my story - which means I can read what you all wrote (according to my unwritten law)...

Viruswitch: That was really funny. And I'm still laughing. You knew, didn't you, that I did a project for Schwarzkopf once.

Roachz: Not only should we protect our vegetables. We should treat them nice, talk to them, tenderly caress them. They taste better that way.

It's Baxter: Welcome your first time contributing! That was a great story - also was one of the ideas I considered writing about, too, shoplifting a pumpkin, but then I wasn't sure how. I think it's a gem, the way yours turned out!

Doug: You're getting quite wordy lately. That was four entire sentences! And almost a new art form - the four sentence story. I liked it, too. It explains the photo perfectly.

Mushroom: I saved your story for last because it was so long. Now I'm simply speechless and in awe and etc. This was inspired! I laughed all the way throught the ingredients and beyond. Thoroughly enjoyable. Now I'm going to go back and read it again.

viruswitch said...

Sure I knew ;). I wish I had written "of" instead of "off" :(. I dont like "off".

Doug said...

Indie, I'm hoping to be the Omar Khayyam of bloggers.

Jamie Dawn said...

Good variety, as usual.

Doug's made me want to start a Save the Pumpkin Club, and Mush's just made me say... WOW! Where did all that come from? That's a hard story to top, so I won't even try. I will just offer my paltry, very short story:

Emily felt an insatiable urge to drop a pumpkin from her third story apartment window. She waited patiently for her ex-boyfriend to stand directly below her window and get his newspaper from the machine. She had no idea the impact would kill him.

Indeterminacy said...

Doug: So that's how you do it. A loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and gaggles of lady bloggers flocking around you.

Jamie: I think a three-sentence short story trumps a four-sentence short story! Tragic end. Maybe she should have just thrown a pumpkin pie in his face.

The Mushroom said...

If you were wondering: I was inspired by Indie saying this was a hard photo to write for. I started with the most interesting concept that came to mind then fleshed it out (along the lines of what I've seen Indie start stories with and follow through to)... I had no idea where it would take me, but figured an autumnal romance that couldn't make it to Christmas would be pretty workable. Adding in the emotional letdown of that fact and the closure seemed natural, you can't just leave her sitting there with rotting vegative matter in her bed and a broken pledge to her parents - there was more to the story than that.

I'm honored to be pointed to, Indie.

shtikl said...

Nice writing. But: What exactly do you mean by "infinite" maze?

shtikl said...

And: I strongly doubt the "worlds on the shelve" thesis. (And oppose D. Lewis while soing so... ;-))

weirsdo said...

Good story, Indie. She does look sort of bemused.

Indeterminacy said...

Shtikl: I've always suspected the universe was an infinite maze (labyrinth) of supermarket aisles. Doesn't everyone feel this at one time or another?

It's great that you dispute this interpretation - as it's not mentioned in the orthodox version of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" although they do speculate that the Universe is a giant game of billiards. If everyone agrees on the thesis right away there's no discussion.

Mrs. Weirsdo: Thanks - I thought she looked that way, too. I'm not sure how I would react if that happened to me.

Doug said...

A new religion: Indeterminism! Ave Pumpkin Girl!

Jamie Dawn said...

Cute story, Indie.

Indeterminacy said...

Doug: Damn, I wanted to be the god.

Jamie: Thanks Jamie. It was a great set this time, wasn't it.

I'm going to take a couple of days off and try writing something for this contest. You have to write a story to a painting, starting it off with the words "Hell tempted me."

weirsdo said...

Excellent. Keep us apprised of the contest, and please share the story with us.

Doug said...

I already cry foul if you don't win that contest.

A Little Bar of Soap said...

What Satanic theology is THIS??!?!

Devil, get thee OUT!

View From Above said...

Hey Indie,

I'm not too good with stories but would you welcome some haiku?

~River~ said...

Hi Indie,
I haven't been visiting much, but I follow all my regular reads through my feeds. So even when I don't visit, I read you religiously! ;)

I thought this was an amazing picture and I may try writing a poem about it. I loved reading your story as well as the stories written by your commentators.

Indeterminacy said...

Mrs. W: Thanks - I'll keep you posted. I have the opening paragraph, but that's not much. Maybe I'll give up and come back here.

Doug: Don't worry. At the proper moment, when I lose, I'll sic all my canine readers on them.

Little Bar: You're always so negative. Can't you find _ONE_ of my stories that you like?

View from Above: Of course Haiku's are welcome. Why should forms of expressions be limited?


River: I've alwas wondered about those feed things and how many people are out there reading them. I'm glad you liked the photo - so did I - it actually reminds me of a former girlfriend - could actually be her.

An_Altered_State_of_Consciousness said...

Well, the world cannot be a pumpkin because the world is flat.

Indeterminacy said...

An Altered State of Consciousness:
1) you have the coolest blogger ID I've ever seen.
2) I think you just described a pumpkin pie. (Unfortunately you can't get pumpkin pie in germany and I never figured out how to bake it myself from scratch).

p.S. I knew Little Bar of Soap would be offended by this story, but please don't sic the "Great Pumpkin" cult on me!

weirsdo said...

I tryed to post this on you're other blog, but aparantly Bogger is geting wize to you cuz they woudent let me!!!!!!!
Anyhoo, April red mushrooms story to me!!!!!!!!! I dint no that "reader indecencie's" was YOU'RE blog or I never wood of lissened!!!!!!!!!

Indeterminacy said...

Pansi: You can visit Indeterminacies without fear. It's not really my blog - that's where all the contributor stories go. By the way, can I ask you a favor? Could you put in a good word for me by Little Bar of Soap. She thinks I'm possessed by the devil!

Antonia said...

you have an impressive amount of stuff going on, Indie....and all is interesting
Tucholsky's in progress...
take care...

The Mushroom said...

Making your own pie isn't hard if you buy canned pumpkin. For fresh, it requires a bit of work -- taking a sugar pumpkin, putting on a cookie sheet cut into eights or smaller and removing the seeds/strings then cooking for awhile to soften the meat so you can scoop it off the hull, then blend until smooth and add the rest of the ingredients. Only slightly more arduous than making the flaky crust you'll put the pumpkin goo into. I've done it and it was very good -- pie with fresh pumpkin is not as brown as canned so visually it surprises the eaters.

This last autumn I made pumpkin cookies (using the one pumpkin which grew in my back yard) with a recipe from the Shakers, but didn't do a good job of cooking the pumpkin before stripping, so they were what you could call 'chunky style.' In my wife's words, it was really good but not what you expect when someone says "pumpkin cookies"... they were closer to what you think of when someone says "apple muffins". :)

Indeterminacy said...

That's the key point. The Germans haven't yet discovered canned pumpkins, or if they have, I'm not on to them yet. So no pumpkin pie for me! I read the recipes and felt too intimidated to try. I've already baked my own pies (can't buy finished pie crusts either - have to make them from scratch), and I've broken the bagel barrier. But pumpkin pie and strawberry shortcake are still to do.

Maybe I should start a baking blog?

The Mushroom said...

The Indeterminacy of Culinary Arts

Indeterminacy said...

I think that might translate to a queasy feeling in the stomache. But I do think that I make a pretty good buttermilk pancakes.

ie said...

disclaimer: this will be my first attempt at storytelling in this blog.

her profile is perfect: the nicely combed hair, the angelic face, and that nice, almost teasing attempt at smiling. how can anyone suspect that the camouflage pattern meant something? she can even quickly and convincingly deny - with a wide smile and a few kind words - her membership to that new terrorist group, if ever the police smells something.

so although the pumpkin reminds her of cinderella and that fairy tale dream of seeing her prince charming, she's firm that today, she's the evil stepmother who has a killer treat in her hands.

Indeterminacy said...

Nizoral: Thanks for posting! I think this was a completely original story, anyhow I had none of the associations that you did. That pumpkin would probably be my downfall, if she offered it to me.