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Grumpy and Pumpkins

Tis The Season…For a Middleaged Lawyer Rant

Gentle Reader, I don’t kid myself that many of you mark your calendars to read my musings. For those that do who are looking for a good month to skip me, this may be it. I am grumpy. Grumpier than my usual grumpy. Grumpier than fabled dwarf Grumpy’s brother, Very Grumpy.

For starters, I had a discovery dispute that required a two hour earlier than usual wake up to get me on the road for a hearing. My opponent objected to almost all of my questions. He tried to clear things up with an email but I lost interest after the first three paragraphs. It is well known in my office that any email longer than six lines has little chance of getting read- a phone call is required after that.

I broke down and called my opponent the day before the hearing to try to work out our issues. I thought we had everything resolved. After the call, he sent a confirming email, but ignored the rule (or maybe the name “confirming”) that a confirmation document does not raise new issues.

His email ended with an admonition that unless I agreed to his new terms unequivocally within the hour, we would have to see the judge.  General Ulysses Grant demanded unequivocal surrender, but he commanded the largest land force of the time. President Truman demanded unequivocal surrender, but he had the first nuclear weaponry. I informed my young opponent that as he had neither, I would see him in court. Luckily for us both, he called me during the drive to court and we worked things out.

It could be that this irritability is the symptom of seasonal angry disorder. Redneck High Holy days a/k/a deer season, is over. My beloved OSU Cowboys have, for all intents and purposes, ended the football season. Fall would be the current season but the blasting of snow here in the Midwest makes it apparent that Fall was taken out of the budget this year and we are officially in pre Winter. Rounding out the mix, it is pumpkin season. Or rather, tastes like a pumpkin season.

Yesterday, I stopped on the way to court to grab a coffee. The only adjectives I use to order coffee are “large” and “black,” substituting “extra large” when available. I don’t order a “grande” anything, let alone a “double half caf soy carmel machichino with room for cream.” My waiter this morning didn’t read that memo.

“Would you like a pumpkin spice latte to pep up your day?” He asked, ever so gently.

“No. No one wants pumpkin spice anything. Ever.”

For me, pumpkin flavoring is like a Cher movie- I never crave it but sometimes I can muddle through and even enjoy it on a good day. This was not a good day. I didn’t want to share the history of pumpkins with this aproned lad, but every lawyer knows it.

Back in the day (probably a Tuesday, it is not well documented) pumpkins were varmints, the musk rat of the fruit and vegetable biz. The Headless Horseman tossed one at Ichabod Crane because he knew that no one would mind if he stole a pumpkin from their porch. For the first few centuries, pumpkin farming was synonymous with folly in America.

Because there was nothing else to do with them, children often carved pumpkins after harvest season. It got them out of the house, let them play with a knife and served as a place to put extra candles after that. A particularly enterprising pumpkin seed salesman took notice of the practice and offered a prize for the best carving during the dust bowl famine to liven things up. The tradition caught on, and pumpkins finally snagged a foothold in American culture. The expansion into pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving cemented their place.

Squash and other gourd farmers wanted in on this new hustle or at least a share of the profits from pumpkin’s new-found success. Pumpkin growers, aware that they had finally found a good thing, said nay nay, and the suit began.  They sued to break away from the gourd coalition in the famous case of American Soc. Of Pumpkin Growers v. Squash and Gourds United. Some historians credit this lawsuit as the seed from which the NCAA spawned sports conferences, but that is a story for another day.

The courtroom was packed when Levi Forboten took the stand as an expert for the pumpkin growers. He was a botanist from the University of Cedar Rapids, and testified at length about the differences between squash and pumpkins. Smoking was permitted in courtrooms back then and in one infamous moment, Mr. Forboten stepped off the witness stand to put out his cigar into the side of a squash on the counsel table. Mayhem erupted and when order was restored, the men in the jury box sided for the pumpkin growers.

Attempts to broaden past the autumn, past Halloween and Thanksgiving, have failed for the pumpkin growers. Unwilling to join the buggy whip makers of old, pumpkin producers forged a bond with the similarly maligned Federation of Nutmeggers to create pumpkin spice. And thus, a Death Star was born.

Is it fair to blame cheery pumpkins for my bad humor?  Hard to know for sure, Gentle Reader. The fact that I recognize my grumpiness is personal growth. In a few hundred years, even I might be worth having around on the holidays.

©2018 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Missouri. No Pumpkins were harmed in the making of this column.  Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to Under Analysis via email at