I could smell October in the air this morning as I tiptoed out the front door into the early morning darkness. It smelled wet, cold and slightly sweet with vegetable rot. The smell struck a memory and I recalled sneaking out of my mother's house when I was a mischievous thirteen year old. In those days, my girlfriends and I waited until the house went still with sleep. Then we suited up into our all black attire, grabbed our supplies and in slow motion soundlessly slipped out of the house. Once blanketed in the freedom of night, we ran through the neighborhood until the wee hours of morning corning as many houses as we could. Somehow, we never got caught. Even though of all the houses in the neighborhood, mine somehow managed to escape the bloody corn bath the others had fallen victim to the night before. No one ever put two and two together.
For those of you not brought up with a pastime as sophisticated as corning, allow me to explain. Corning is not throwing a full ear of corn at a house; that would be silly, wasteful and way too easy for the victim to clean up. Rather, the corn is in dried loose form. The 'corner' scoops a handful of the stuff and whips it as hard as he/she can at the 'cornees' house. An explosion of successful hits is then heard as the corner runs like hell on to the next house while the cornee turns on their porch light realizing they've just been corned. But alas, cornee, it is too late.
This corning phenomenon begs the question: who was supplying all of this dried loose corn to so many children? Is there a black market for corn in Western Pennsylvania and some son of a farmer spent his free time shucking and cutting corn off the ears to supply all of his rogue friends ammunition for their nighttime hijinks? If so, I bet that kid is rich now because every kid in my hometown corned a house at one time or another I'm sure.
Laugh all you want about corning, I think we were ahead of our time. Considering all the different forms of vandalism we could have chosen, corning is certainly the most green choice. For example, we could have been toilet papering houses and trees. What a mean thing to do to a tree anyway. From the tree's perspective, that's like hanging their dead brothers and sisters all over them. The horror! And have you seen the price of toilet paper these days? Only the spoiled rich kids could afford to partake in such pranks in the current bathroom tissue market. Even poor kids deserve to wreak a little havoc!
I need to explore this topic further and find out if kids raised in different parts of the country threw different vegetables than we did. Perhaps it's a regional thing and kids in Idaho throw potatoes at houses. Or kids in the south throw cotton and cigarettes? Maybe those hippies out in California throw flower seeds and patchouli? Does it extend beyond our American borders?Could it be a worldwide phenomenon?
My poor kid may never know the joys of corning though. With ethanol production and rising corn demand, I'm afraid kids will not be able to afford the black market corn prices any longer. But I will dazzle him with the stories of my youth and a time when corn was so abundant and cheap, kids threw it at houses to be funny.