Monday, March 30, 2009

Who is this dagger I see before me?

As the Christmas Season languished sometime in early February, Mom would pull down the Christmas Ornaments and scores of Santas from around the house. Then, with great care, she packed them all into boxes to stash away until the next year. But rather than tuck the decorations together in a way that might use the inner space of the boxes to best advantage, she would assess which bulbs, snowflakes, or angels would like to rest for a year with other bulbs, snowflakes, or angels. Which two decorations belonged together? Was the this Santa friends with that Elf? The Mr. and Mrs. Mouse (a Dickensian duo, made of corn shuck) must always be together, as should the Gingerbread brother and sister.

(This often caused me to wonder if she was right. What if the Gingerbread brother and sister were desperate to get away from each other but instead, were wrapped, year upon weary year, tight next to one another...Sartre had nothing on these sequined Christmas dolls.)

This kind of packing did not end with Christmas. When rounding up bits and pieces for storage, much concern was expressed over how my Donnie and Marie dolls would react to my barbie sized Princess Leia doll. It was wondered which books would communicate best with one another - probably not a good idea for The Giving Tree to room with Franny and Zooey, but Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners might get on surprisingly with Samuel Beckett's Collected Plays.

In Pixar's Toy Story, the leader of the toys in Andy's room, Woody, holds a "staff" meeting to discuss the schedule change in in Andy's birthday party. During this meeting he asks his flock of toys "Does everyone have a moving buddy?"

I saw this film on my birthday in 1996, and when those words hit my ears, it was all I could do not to yelp out loud (This, on top of my total wonder at the film before me.). Yes. Moving buddies. This made absolute sense.

The act of personifying inanimate objects is not uncommon, in fact, we do it all the time: Grumbling at a car or a computer when it is acting up, descriptions of nature (I read on one of D.'s pages that she'd like to punch the newly fallen Spring snow in the face). We can make sense of the world around us with greater ease by attributing human traits to the skies, a rock, your iPod.

(Isn't it funny how those attributions show up when the object acts to our disadvantage in some way? Curbs are lying in wait to trip us - those evil little teenaged fiends. That Napkin just LEAPS from your hand, over and over just to make trouble on a second date.)

Some trouble may appear when it roams unchecked. Telling your computer to "Hurry the ef up", is one thing, but separating The Princess Bride from Silence of the Lambs in movie collection because "Well, they just won't have that much to talk about" is quite another.

Thanks to years of packing dishes, school papers, stuffed animals, clothes, and toiletries with the intent that they all "get along", the world is teeming with personalities, some helpful...some less so:

Forks: Sturdy, forthright fellows with lots to say.
Spoons: Sweet, soothing types who are just trying to help.
Buses: Big, oafish and lumbering. They apologize all the time and never mean it.
TVs: Mouths always open, staring, bi-polar. When they are turned off they are listless and uncaring, but when they are turned on they won't shut up until everyone is looking at them.
Driver's License: What a tattletale.
Shelves: Open, interested. But the taller they are, the harder they gaze down at you, daring you to climb them for whatever knowledge exists in that hidden book up top.
Drawers: Shut mouthed, clammy.
Beds: A good one just wants to hug you. A bad one keeps you awake all night, humming the theme song to the Andy Griffith Show and asking you if you remember "that funny line from that show with the guy in it."

At least one isn't lonely in this type of world. Now if you'll excuse me, my Shampoo and Conditioner are disagreeing over the Stimulus Package. The Shampoo is such a goddamn Neo-Con.


S. E. Johnson said...

With all due respect:

1. Forks are forthright, but only with respect to their native propensity for aggression of an almost colonialist, masculinist-penetrative nature.

2. Spoons are more nurturing than sweet or soothing. There's a difference, and it's often discomfiting.

3. Buses never apologize--they dare you to challenge them, in a way recently popularized in trailers for _I Love You, Man_. (I can't remember the actor's name--it's the guy from "Freaks and/or Geeks" and "How I May Met Several People Before I Finally Met Your Mother.")

4. TVs don't care if we look or not--they go right on in an addle-pated, almost schizoid manner.

5. You're right about the DLs.

6. Sure.

7. Drawers are best friends who keep your secrets.

8. I'd argue there's more of a good parent/bad parent thing going on with beds, and that the lines are blurry. Sometimes, they never want the hug to end, and you stay at home/in bed for far too long.

Hello, Lunacy of Another Kind!

Dianna said...

is it weirder if I wanted to punch the SNOW in the face, or the SPRING?

joe g said...

@Dianna: yes.

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