September 22, 2018

i was reared by the yard sale table

Dr. Seuss says, "Sometimes,
you land on your ass.  Deal
with it, Little Yellow Guy."
You know how sometimes you're eating chicken stew or maybe some Carolina-style pulled pork, and you unexpectedly find a bit of bone, and sometimes you nearly break a tooth on it but sometimes you feel it on your tongue and just take it out of your mouth and put it into a napkin and move on with your life?  None of that has anything to do with why I'm writing this, except that I found another bit of bone to write.

We're going to a local bluegrass festival tonight and tomorrow night, and I've surfaced just enough to maybe enjoy it and let the music reach me.  I wore my ankle-length, flowery prairie-girl dress with a cardigan to work today, curls in my hair and sandals, and today it was "me", so I came home and told P.J. that I'm wearing it to the street festival.

I got The Eyebrow, plus the comment, "You'd have to wear a big, floppy hat.  That's the only way to pull off that look."

I said, "What look?  It isn't a look.  It's a dress.  I'm not required to dyke out."

She said, "It's a look."

I said, "What things live in your head, woman?"

She said, "Fashion things, that's what things."

I said, "Oh, so this is like Fashion Plates, and you're going to change out the pair of twee pants for a skirt, and the dead-sensible secretary blouse for that frilly Strawberry Shortcake-looking top, and the virtuous, innocent head for the one with the slightly suggestive expression, and then you're going to put a piece of paper on top and pull that plastic thing down over it and color it with your crayons to make a picture?"

She said, "What things live in my head?  What the fuck are you even on about?"

I said, "Fashion Plates.  That game.  From the 1970s.  You don't remember Fashion Plates?"

The Eyebrow again.  "Um, no?"  I said, "It was a game and ... oh, right.  It probably came from that same yard sale table as the book, now that I think about it.  Figures."

The yard sale tables that peppered my run-down neighborhood.

I had a Lite-Brite that I got as a Christmas present one year, and some of those miniature Campbell's soup cans and cereal boxes that I guess other kids used in walk-in doll houses (I just got a kick because it was the only way I got name-brand items and they made me feel upper-class), but the bulk of my early childhood toys came from yard sales.  The Fashion Plates game likely got thrown in for free when my parents bought the owl paintings.

I have questions because the Fashion Plates box advertised that anyone six years old or older (I was four) could make "even millions" of combinations.  I don't remember my advanced math class content and I'm a little bit ashamed of that, but I count three plates each of heads, busty chests, upper bodies, and lower bodies, plus a slot for a pack of eight colored pencils.  If at least two colors needed to be used on each one, omitting any flesh-colored pencil, then the permutation would probably equal a fairly large number, but I'm not sure if it approaches a million.  Is there a doctor in the house who could perform this calculation for me?  Comment, please.

I swear to you, that
pupil rolled into its head.
My first teddy bear came from a yard sale and was given to me when I was a year old.  It was so sweet, that pre-loved, pre-dilapidated rust-colored teddy bear, and also I have a strong memory of my first hallucination at age three, when the black pupil of one of the teddy bear's glass eyeballs detached and seemed to me to magically slide out of its eye and into the back of its skull.  It's still a little movie in my mind.  I saw the whole thing and was told for years afterward that that was impossible and that I shouldn't make things up like that.  Now I question my parents' tenuous grasp of the concept of cheap-ass glue and teddy bear glass eyeball manufacturing.  Nevertheless, in the midst of the validation void, I had a bear that was blind in one eye, which made me love it all the more.

Wait.  Hold up.  I'm a grown-ass woman now.  I could make an incision in its neck and check to see if that pupil is in its head somewhere, and then sew him back up afterward.  I can prove it happened and I didn't hallucinate and put that in your pipe and smoke it, disbelieving parental units who wanted me to believe my mental illness started before I had moved past sippy cups.

But what if it isn't in there?



My favorite book at age four came from a yard sale table.  It's Dr. Seuss' least popular book ever, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew.  It's unpopular because it contains a moral, which is that life sucks and you can never escape that fact and all of the terrible things that are out of your control, so you might as well just get on with it and cope somehow.  Also, if you're meek, you're totally screwed.  It was good fodder to serve as a foundation for my life.  I read it and read it until it was even shabbier than it was when it was pressed into my hands for the first time.  I bought it for The Kid at some point, from a proper book store, and it never got shabby.  It never got so much as corner wear.  I'm not even sure he read far enough to encounter the Perilous Poozers of Pompelmoose Pass.

I didn't know about hand-me-downs, and god damn it, I loved that book and that teddy bear and that game.  I played and read and cuddled my prizes while my parents hung the owl paintings downstairs, because we were poor and they got to decorate and for them, that was a prize, too.

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