Once upon a time, in a tiny village in Southern Ohio, a crazy lady emerged from her office after 40 days and nights of self-imposed torture with scissors and glue guns. Witnesses say she threw her blistered hands and bandaged fingers into the air and sobbed, “It’s done, it’s done, it’s done,” before falling face first into the snow and asphyxiating on a wad of felt.
I finished the quiet book. It only took about 40 working hours and eleven pints of blood. Also, copious amounts of wine and Neosporin. I estimate the final cost at about $1,200.00. I could totally care less, because it’s awesome, and my beautiful niece will grow to love it one day. And if she doesn’t, I’ll just throw myself out of the truck the next time we’re rolling across Fancy Gap, because who the hell wouldn’t want the words Fancy Gap in their obituary?
I have no illusions here. I made the book for me — she just happens to be the recipient of my madness. Quite frankly, it will probably scare the bejejees out of her at first. Lord of the Rings is some pretty deep doo-doo, especially for a four-year-old. She’ll most likely feel about the book like I always felt about being the kid who brought frankincense to Jesus in the Christmas play. I was never really happy about playing a guy in the first place, but there weren’t enough little boys in our Sunday school to carry off the entire male cast, so inevitably, I had to play a wise man. I wanted to be Mary soooo bad, but they always picked a quiet girl for that role, because all Mary does is sit and look all sappy at Jesus for about an hour. (I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t believe I could do that.) Anyway, I was a wise man and I got to carry Frank’s incense to Jesus, because everyone knows God-babies need incense. And I’m certain my patient and kind Sunday school teacher explained to me what frankincense is, but I had already settled on Frank’s incense in my mind and suddenly I was a wise guy instead of man, and we weren’t going to give baby Jesus Frank’s incense, we were going to kidnap him, and Mary was so quiet and sappy looking because she was an alien and Moses was going to pop out of her head and save little baby Jesus.
I had a hard time in Sunday school sometimes.
So maybe she won’t feel like I felt, but I don’t think she’ll love it. It will be one of those presents she finds years later and thinks, “Aunt Wendy was seriously warped to give this to me when I was four.”
It’s probably less disturbing than the taxidermy mouse I almost bought for my other niece. We’re introducing her to Beverly Cleary this Christmas, with the Ralph S. Mouse series of children’s books. She’s almost eight, it’s perfect, and I thought a little mouse-friend with the books would be neat. George nixed this idea immediately. Mostly because a well-done mouse costs $100, but also because it’s “creepy.” I happen to think she’d love it. He thinks she’d be horrified.
“Babe, she’s a little kid. That thing looks real — hell it is real. You’ll scare her to death unwrapping that.”
“Really? I think it’s cute. It’s all posed and stuff.”
“It’s terrible. Why don’t you make her a mouse-friend out of felt instead?”
Ohmygosh I hadn’t even thought of it. Make a mouse-friend? Challenge accepted. Back into the office. Send wine.