In Your Face
The email exclaims excitedly that my Etsy shipment has arrived. I look at my phone screen, drawing a blank. What Etsy shipment? Slowly it dawns on me. Oh no. Why today? He will see the box and inquire and frankly, this purchase defines all that is wrong with me. It is frivolous. No, more like pretentious. No. It is worse. It is just stupid. Oh girl, why did you waste money on this? Sure enough, the box is on the front steps and I laugh when I see the Etsy shipper used a Girl Scout cookie carton to pack her goods. This just getting worse. I pull the box in, tuck it under a table in the front room and head into the kitchen.
A half hour later, I hear a voice from the front room. “Samoas? Please tell me that there are Girl Scout cookies in that box.” Oh no! He has seen the box and now beyond the purchase confession, I must disappoint his stomach.
“Right? I wish.” And in this moment, I truly do wish that the box was full of Caramel Delights. “No…It’s something I bought for the house.”
“What? No cookies?” he puts on a pout. “What is it?”
“I don’t want to tell you. It is stupid. I don’t know what I was thinking. You’ll mock me.” I am making it worse.
“Well, aren’t I going to see it anyway? I mean, if it is for the house?” he asks.
"Even when I put it where I’m intending, you’ll never notice.” I reply.
“Why? Is it like a new kind of picture hanging device? Like it won’t be visible?” He is playfully baiting me. He is enjoying that I am embarrassed.
“No. It will be right out in the open and you will see it every day. In fact, it will probably be split between two rooms in the house. But you will never notice. It is ridiculously subtle. A true waste of money.” I sincerely don’t want to tell him. I am ever so aware of how this purchase reflects my lack of money restraint. I think quickly and decide that I'll own up if he can find it. He needs to notice what is different in the house. I’ll give him a week after I unpack the box and arrange the contents. I voice this and he reconfirms that it must be visible, not in a closet or behind a door. “Yes.” I add “It will literally be right in your face.”
The deal is set and when he sees the Girl Scout cookie box in recycling, he asks if the game is on. Oh yes. Game on.
Midweek he announces “It is clearly behind something else”. I laugh as I knew this was way too subtle for him to ever notice. In fact, way too subtle to have spent money on, but there it is.
“No. It is actually spread between two rooms. Both right in front of your face. And it changed things in two other rooms. Other things got moved around because of them.” I know now that he’ll never find it and I’m safe in not having to reveal my foolishness. Yet, now I am surprised to find that I want to tell him. I add “I’ll tell you what they are when you call uncle.”
Two days go by before he gives up. I am surprised that I have enjoyed the game.
"Alright. I’m going to spill it. But don’t mock me, OK. I’ve already mocked myself enough. It is really a waste of money. Not a lot of money, mind you, but still money.” I pause. We are both smiling. This has become something more than a silly purchase. "I bought green books from Etsy, sold as ‘seven old green books for your instant library’. They were curated by color. There were teal ones and blue ones. So, a few weeks ago, I bought some recycled birds online but when they arrived, they were broken. The company refunded my money. One little bird was ok, so I put him on a stack of books.” I pause to see if he is following my train wreck of thought. “The little bird whispered ‘these books are the wrong color for me.’ And he was right. So, instead of moving the bird, I thought I’d look through our house to find different colored old books, but all of our books are red, brown and gold. The bird needed green books. So I bought seven green books- just so they could sit on shelves- and just so the bird could sit on them. This whole purchase is only about appearance and I find I dislike myself for the notion of books as props. I bought old crappy books that I’ll never read for too much money because they were green. I feel self-aware of who that makes me. I could have obtained them at the recycling center in the city for fifty cents but I got caught up in my suburban-ness.” He is studying my face now, and I realize that he still has no idea where the books are. I’m surprised. “The books are split between the powder room and the master bath toilet. On the shelf at eye level, behind the toilet in each room. Literally, in your face.” I smile at my clever clue, totally missed by him.
“Huh.” The look on his face says it all. If there was money spent on this venture, he views it as wasted. I can see that he is trying to process the locations, the books, in his mind. “Can you at least tell me the title of one of the books?” he asks and I get that he is goading me.
“I only know one. I think it is called Lovely Mary or something like that.” I answer honestly.
“Is the bird happy with his books now?” he asks.
“Oh, yes. Very. He says it compliments his red and green wings perfectly.”
This morning, my husband emerges from the bathroom with Lovely Mary in hand. As it turns out the book is titled ‘Lovey Mary by the author of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch’. He turns to me, still with my coffee in bed, and opens to a page. With theatrical flair, he begins reading:
“That Wiggs girls said I looked nice in red’, said Lovey Mary tentatively. “
“You do, too,” said Miss Hazy. “It keeps you from lookin’ so corpsey. I wisht you’d do somethin’ with yer hair though; it puts me in mind of snakes in them long black plaits.”
All Lovey Mary needed was encouragement. She puffed her hair at the top and sides and tucked it up in the latest fashion. Tommy, coming in at the door, did not recognize her. She laughed delightedly.
“Do I look so different?”
“I should say you do,” said Miss Hazy, admiringly, as she spread newspaper for a table-cloth. “I’ve never seen no one answer to primpin’ like you do.”
Seven books. $28.77.
The Legend of the Green Books. Priceless.
The urban rustic pipe shelves are from Etsy Shop Reclaimed Wood USA
Crow Art in Pic # 2: by artist Lucinda Storms