It’s that time of year again, so that means risking life and limb climbing a wobbly stepladder to the uppermost reaches of the bedroom closet to retrieve the several dozen boxes which contain the Nordic Warrior Queen’s Department 56 North Pole Collection.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Those little overpriced replica houses, factories, and buildings, with names like The Gumdrop Shop, The Elf Bunkhouse, The North Pole Post Office, and The Reindeer Stables, complete with miniature Donner and Blitzen.
And then there are all the accessories – snowy trees and sledding elves, grinning snowmen, candycanes and frolicking reindeer and a tiny but rotund Mr. and Mrs. Claus waving at all the good little girls and boys.
Still though, it’s sort of cool the way they light up at night. They’re sparkly. It gives the place a festive air. Besides, the grandkids like them.
But after two hours of fussing and repeated rearranging, things weren’t quite right. We had enough low-wattage bulbs to light up a major airport, extension cords to circle the earth three times, and fake snow sufficient to reverse global warming. But she told me she needed to make the back row just a little bit higher. “It’s almost done, dear. Please go get me a few blocks of styrofoam.”
As I walked out the door, she reminded me. “Did you measure it, to see how much you need?” I just smiled and nodded, quietly closing the door behind me.
Speaking now to the male audience out there, have you ever gone to Michaels Arts and Crafts by yourself? Meaning without your wife? Bad idea.
I walked in the front door and…everyone in the store looked up at me, and smiled. I’d seen that look before; they thought I was queer. Aside from the stockboy (who obviously was), I was the only swinging dick in the place.
Avoiding the knowing glances of the creative but bored housewives, the lovesick teens intent on building Justin Bieber shrines and high-school girls working on art projects, I frantically searched for the styrofoam, and some glue with which to construct a suitable foundation for my wife’s holiday avocation.
I have to say, however, while wandering the aisles: I was intrigued. All those colorful papers, beads, and bangles, shiny glitter and stars and appliqués, paint and clay and cork and wood. You could make anything in this place. I began to imagine myself spending long weekends scrapbooking, or making tasteful flower arrangements.
What was I thinking? It was like being drugged. I could feel the feminine power of those craft supplies having its way with me. I had to get out of there. I snatched up two 6-packs of 4” x 4” styrofoam and a big tube of Super Glue and ran for the cash register.
The mid-sixties cashier gave me a warm, matronly smile as she rang up my items. I felt a little like a teenage kid buying his first pack of condoms at the drug store while trying to avoid the condescending grin of the pharmacist. “Do you have a Michaels Frequent Shopper card?”
I shook my head, silently begging her not to press me further.
“That will be thirty-four dollars and fifteen cents, please.”
For fucking styrofoam? Jesus. I swiped my card. I just wanted to get out of there.
Fifteen minutes later, I walked through the front door, handed the Michaels Arts and Crafts bag to my wife, headed to the fridge for a beer, and sat on the couch while she finished arranging her Christmas Village.
It sure looks nice, doesn’t it?