My battle with ‘The Great Pumpkin’

Sep 29, 2011
Photo by: Paul Viau NOTHING TO BE SCARED ABOUT — Be careful, and your fall tableau won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

For those of you who just want to skip the set-up, have no fun and learn absolutely nothing, I’ll cut to the chase — I lost again. This year, the score was: Great Pumpkin —1, Paulie Viau — nothing!

Actually, I lost by forfeit, as I was forced to tendon-pull out with an injury this year, courtesy of “Big Mac.”

For those of you who are not-so-squash literate, “Big Mac” is a trade name for a monster, behemoth, 80- to 125-pound pumpkin. This is the Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Jose Canseco of pumpkins, all wrapped into one. In other words, I battled a pumpkin on steroids.

“Where do you find a pumpkin that big?” you might ask.

Well — Did you know? — Sue Pendley, who organizes the wonderful fall decorating in Maggie Valley and owns Maggie Mountaineer Crafts on Soco Road, set me up with a “Big Mac” this year. And naturally, I picked the biggest sucker in the “punkin patch.”

Now you may have seen my photographs in years past, showing the many volunteers carting around bales of hay, tall bundles of corn shocks and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. This massive decorating effort was conceived by Jeff Smith, owner of Jonathon Creek Inn, back in 1998. In recent years, Sue Pendley and her late husband, Austin, have taken the fall initiative.

It is a huge volunteer effort each year, and the experienced pumpkin wranglers know that the best way to “handle” a “Big Mac” is with two men and a beach towel.

I knew that, going into my battle, but when Sue Pendley told me that, “Two of my girls handled a ‘Big Mac’ earlier this morning,” then started using expressions like “You better man-up!”

Well, I could barely wrap my arms (massive guns, included!) around my chosen opponent. “Big Mac” was slippery at first, but I hunkered down and got a good grip.

A brief, and all-too-common aside — Anyone who has spent any time around a golf course has heard of the expression, “Grip it and rip it.”

Well, that’s exactly what I did. I got the best grip I could, picked up, and when I had “Big Mac” right where I wanted him — about three inches off the ground — my left bicep tendon gave out.

I am all-too-familiar with how this feels, because I completely ruptured my right bicep a few years ago, though not on a pumpkin, and the last thing I want is to have a matched set of “Popeye” Arms.

So much for my “manning up.” After visiting my favorite Othopod, Chris Catterson, M.D., of Western Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists, I rested my arm … and the next day, I manned-up again — I threw in the towel and asked for some assistance.

“We have a pumpkin carry out on aisle nine, next to the Indian corn.” Right now, both my ego and my arm really hurt!