Image by Robert Hack

What David S. Pumpkins Taught Me About Life

Never back down. Never surrender.

One of our most influential modern philosophers, Morihei Ueshiba (1883–1969), founder of the Japanese martial art Aikido, had much to say about life. He famously told us, “You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment.”

One of our other most influential modern philosophers, David S. Pumpkins, had little to say about anything. He famously told us, “Any questions?!?!”

But while Ueshiba is highly regarded as a thinker and warrior, Pumpkins is often discussed as a mere figure of fun. As I sit beside a cold pumpkin patch at midnight, fresh off one of my customary daylong meditation sessions in a silent cave full of stalagmites and stalactites, I set quill pen to parchment paper to write this treatise, which (in the manner of the ancients) I shall then transfer to Medium, Twitter’s longform blogging platform.

And I consider David S. Pumpkins.

I consider how he has changed my life.

What do we know about David S. Pumpkins? We know that he appears on 73 floors of the 100 Floors of Frights ride as depicted in the Saturday Night Live “comedy” “sketch” “Haunted Elevator.” If you have yet to watch his debut foray into our national consciousness, please take a moment to silently and prayerfully witness it now.

Ignore, for a moment, the fact that the first funny thing about this sketch is Kenan Thompson’s elevator operator character introducing himself very dramatically as “Mark,” or that Kate McKinnon successfully saves herself from breaking three separate times reacting to Kenan’s facial expressions and delivery. Also ignore the fact that Beck Bennett’s dismissive, eye-rolling boyfriend/husband character probably thinks he can do better than this sweet, enthusiastic young beauty. (He is incorrect, and they are codependent, and they will soon break up).

Instead, contemplate David Pumpkins.

They regard him with mystification, then annoyance, then finally horror.


They cannot place him, not on a local commercial or in any pantheon of deities.

He’s “his own thang.”

And the skeletons are “part of it.”

How does it challenge them, this doomed young couple, to be confronted with a tableau of pure joy and wonder?

I believe it shows them another way of being. And in the manner of most humans, they initially abhor that which they cannot comprehend. Now, I would hope that eventually these two would go on to realize that they have more in common with David S. Pumpkins than they might initially imagine.

But they won’t.

Yet the rest of us have a shot. Suspend disbelief for just a moment, now, and come with me on a journey.

I ask you: are we not, each of us, individually, our “own thang”? We die in different ways, after a life brief or long, and we cannot know the hour of our demise. What we do know is that we die and then — what? Who can say? If there is something after death, we are alone, to eternally do our “own thang.”

But life.

What of life?

Do we not each walk through life with our own dancing skeletons beside us? Perhaps there is one on each shoulder, one performing curiously precise dance moves (lending credence to my theory that Mikey Day has taken one to three creative movement classes), the other performing a more sensual, loose interpretation of emotions (lending credence to my theory that Bobby Moynihan is in part artistically influenced by Adina Howard’s seminal jam “Freak Like Me?”)

Who are my skeletons?

Who are yours?

What would they say to us, if they could? Would they say “Ay, papi?” Would they squeal? Or would they own us and drag us down into the depths of Hell — the Hell of our own shame and unexpressed pain?

David S. Pumpkins understands that our dancing skeletons must be mastered. They must be loved. If we do not guide them, they guide us. And so he smacks them in the ass to show them who is boss.

David S. Pumpkins is the boss of David S. Pumpkins.

There are David S. Pumpkins haters. There are David S. Pumpkins doubters. This is unsurprising. Less enlightened minds often fall into a pit of rage and despair when confronted with true genius.

In addition, one might theorize that in a season of vitriol, bitterness, rage and discord, the appearance of David S. Pumpkins is a welcome, goofy, absurd dive into the realm of pure laughter and silliness; that he might not have become such a popular meme if our media were not suffused with horrific venom due to the fact that an actual rapey pumpkin of horror is running for president against an adult human woman; that it gets frustrating to watch otherwise logical humans lose their minds because they’ve never worked through their complex anger towards their own mothers and womanhood in general and instead resort to screaming “EMAILS! EMAILS! EMAILS!” over and over again, as if that were more important than the fact that there’s also a racist, xenophobic, deeply stupid sexual predator on the loose and running for the highest office in the land; that it was fun to watch something ridiculous that did not en masse trigger sexual assault PTSD; and that David S. Pumpkins is just a great example of an Oscar-winning actor committing so fucking hard to a bit that his face very nearly bursts open.

Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about all that. Because I believe that David S. Pumpkins is a philosopher-king, a sacred thinker, a vessel of wisdom, and perhaps the next great American philosopher. He is a Thomas Paine for a generation that yearns for his very own, very special version of Common Sense.

He is Spirit.

He is Beauty.

He is Life.

He is You.

He is, indeed, The Gourdfather.