Corncorncorncorn Part 2

You know, perhaps I was wrong about corn being boring, after all.  The Corncorncorn post has generated an amazing amount of traffic.  Apparently corn is more interesting than I first thought.  Or perhaps it’s just irresistible to all those folks who googled “Pete’s Pride Pork Fritters” which, much to my amusement, is the most common search engine term that brings folks here. 

Okay, so about cornin’.  As I’m sure is common throughout the country, in Indiana late October is the time of year when younger kids go trick-or-treating, and older kids run amok and pull pranks on the neighbors.  You’ve got your universal pranks, like soaping windows and toilet papering trees, or even the sinister egging.  But here in corn country, you have something else:  Cornin’. 

Now the uninitiated may think of sweet corn, or maybe even hominy when they hear of cornin’.  But we’re not talking about those things.  We’re talking about field corn.  The type that’s left on the stalk until fully mature and dry, and then used as feed for livestock.  The kernels are big and hard—Like candy corn’s roughneck cousin who just got out on parole.  Removing this stuff from the cob after having stolen it from the neighbor’s field involves thumbs and blisters.  Piled in ice cream buckets, it’s agricultural ammo for the night’s events.

First you need to choose a target.  If you choose a house, there needs to be someone home. Unoccupied houses are not acceptable because the possibility of getting in trouble is what makes cornin’ fun.   It’s best if you can find a house with a big picture window, and a curmudgeon with no sense of humor sitting right on the other side of the glass watching Jeopardy.  Sneaking in close not only makes for better contact, but also enhances the adrenaline rush.  Then on the count of three you and your friends—because NOBODY corns alone—jump up and throw the biggest handful of corn you can manage as hard as you can at that picture window.  Let me tell ya, that stuff is LOUD.  At this point you have two options, although you should have decided before you threw the corn, either to run or try to hide.  Either way, your curmudgeon will likely come out and yell threats and obscenities at you.  Mission accomplished.

Or, you can choose to corn cars.  This works best in dark areas where you have a ditch or a hill to corn from.   The victim will likely stop and once again you’ll need to choose whether to run or hide.  However, if you choose to run, it’s not a good idea to run down the road, especially if you’ve just corned Hubster who WILL chase you down the road with the car.  Also, it can be advantageous to corn in areas with lots of trees, which will decrease the likelihood that you’ll be chased cross country by that 4 wheel drive pickup with the redneck sticker and the rebel flag.

Of course, creative corners will also come up with variations on the theme.  One year someone threw corn in the open window of my dad’s Plymouth Duster.  We cleaned it out, but later when the car got rained in—apparently Dad left the window open on a regular basis—a few kernels which had remained hidden in the groovy shag carpet sprouted and we had little corn stalks in the back seat.  Or there was the time when someone dumped buckets or corn on our front porch.  So much that we had to shovel it out.  No one ever fessed up to it, but they should have because it was mighty impressive. 

I haven’t actually been corned in a really long time.  Maybe kids aren’t doing it anymore, or maybe they’re home cornin’ on the Wii instead.

Corncorncorncorncorn

When I was a kid, I’d often go to spend time with my grandma and grandpa, who lived about 25 miles away.  Their house was out in the middle of nowhere, so getting there was one long stretch of watching the passing scenery from the back seat of their Chrysler Cordoba.  Of course, this is Indiana, so for much of the year, the scenery consisted primarily of corn fields.  I remember watching the corn go by and saying “Corncorncorncorncorncorncorncorncorncorncorncorncorn” all the while, pausing only for the occasional house or woods or bean field.  The fact that my grandparents didn’t beat the tar out of me after the first half mile’s worth of corncorncorn is a testament to their saintly character.  God knows I’d have lost it after the first 15 seconds and been like, “If I hear corncorncorn come out of your mouth one more time, we’re going to stop this car and cut a corn switch for your behind!”

But, of course, my grandparents were better people than I am—most everybody is, really—and so they never said a word, and I didn’t realize how truly annoying that would be until I became a parent.  What I did discover, however, is that if you say a word enough times in a row like that, it loses its meaning. Try it next time you’re driving past some corn.  Pretty soon, it’s like your brain just gives up—which, come to think of it, may have been what was really going on with my grandparents.

I thought about corncorncorn, because Garlic Sis works for the Indiana State Museum, and yesterday she was telling me that they’re planning a future exhibit all about corn.  I started laughing.  “Are you serious?  Really, that sounds like the most boring thing ever.  I mean, this is Indiana.  I feel saturated with corn knowledge just from living here.”  Garlic Sis, who is the voice of authentic Hoosier culture at the ISM, agreed, and said she’d tried to explain this to the hoity museum types, but that they just didn’t get it.  I said, “Let me guess…they’ll include things like ethanol production and corn being used to make biodegradable packaging.”  “Yeah, they were talking about those things,” Garlic Sis replied with a chuckle.  “That’s what I figured, ” says I, “we already know about that stuff.” 

But that was no great shock.  Hoity museum types are nothing if not predictably condescending.  However, what did come as a shock, was their complete lack of knowledge about a traditional Hoosier cultural event called cornin’.  She suggested to one person at the ISM that they include cornin’ in the exhibit.  “What?  I don’t know what that is.”  Garlic Sis was like, “What do you mean you don’t know what it is?!”  She tried a couple of other folks, even adding the proper G sound onto the end of the word—cornING—Garlic Sis is fluent in both Hoosier and Hoity Museum Speak, you know—and only found one who knew what she was talking about. 

Garlic Sis began to wonder if it was strictly a west-central Indiana phenomenon.  She called and related the story to me.  After I finished ridiculing her for saying cornING, I said, “It’s those city folk you work with.  Of course they don’t know what cornin’ is.”  We decided that I should ask all you guys to put your 2 cents in.  Do you know what cornin’ is?