When I came to Village Gifts years ago Jim, David, Sharon and Helen all warned me that I would be surrounded by very "cute" things. One of the devastating side effects of working in a gift shop was that soon everything would appear "cute". If I was to ever leave here, being debriefed would be an important part of letting go of "cute".
I scoffed at this.
As my time now approaches leaving the comfortable confines of Village Gifts (where I have learned that "cute" may be used for almost everything inside its walls) I am beginning to realize the word "cute" continually crept into my vocabulary--- much to my annoyance.
It was true. I must be debriefed or I shall be trapped in the language of "cute". How this would occur? I did not know but it must be soon for it would not be good for a writer to be caught up in only "cute" language.
It seemed like just an ordinary day.
And so it was I entered the Land of Cute and I was surrounded by big
cute,little cute and a wicked cute woman that looked strangely like Helen. She spoke in her cute voice and the usual things fell from her cute little mouth.
My god, what was happening? My brain was going "cuteless." !!!
Helen stood there and I saw a wart on her nose with a hair growing from the center;her eyes became teardropped shaped and she took on the form of an ugly Precious Moment doll gone bad. Her hair was uncombed,her teeth were black and crooked.
My god, I thought surely I had died and gone to the comfy Land of Ugly, a kind of heaven. for those people that live in the Land of Cute and sometimes need to escape.
It was strange here. I was seeing everything in a very ugly light. The things on the shelves were dirty, upside-down,dusty. The store windows seemed blackened by some sooty film. The sparkle had gone out of the crystal,the Boyds Bears were now Floyds Beers and they had grossly ugly labels and smelled like urine. The Cherished Teddies were all Garish Teddies and they lay in their little ugly gaudy coffins. The Precious Moment figures all had eyes that looked like cuss words in comic strips. Could it be that through no fault of my own I was like Alice and had just fallen into a Wonderland of Ugly?
It must be so. There on the shelf, where once stood Beanie Babies soft and cuddly and( you know the " c" word), stood ugly little bears made from sharp cockleburrs that would cut anyone that touched them. They were ugly.
The round, fat Teddy Bears were anorexic and their bony wire frames stuck through the once beautiful material that now was a nasty color I couldn't describe.
I rounded the corner and looked at the porcelain dolls. UGLY!!!! They looked like perfect candidates for the bar scene in Star Wars. The Merry Moo Moos were not merry. They stood on all fours instead of their hind little hoofs and they had foam frothing from their growling lips. UGLY!.
The charming Calico Kittens had all turned black,their backs were arched,the "c" clothes they ordinarily wore were torn,dirty and they smelled bad. They were beyond Ugly.
I hurried to tell Pickles . She was seated at our table. Oh no, she had really turned into a big pickle! Her sparkling blue eyes were now yellow mustard seeds as were her nose and mouth. She smiled an ugly yellow smile and a piece of dill fell over her right eye and she turned her green pickle head and called out in a snarl,"Pheeeela,get over here!!!!"
Phala came walking towards us. What a sight !! Her eyes were fiery red ; her hair hung down to her waist and glowed like she was standing under black light ; her teeth seemed to drip with a kind of venom. She spoke with harsh gravelly voice," Peeeekles,don't you ever call me 'Pheeeela'again"my god, they were going to fight. I couldn't watch. Helen had promised me that every one here was civilized. I turned and ran.
In my path stood a tall thin number 2 lead pencil with a white eraser. As a writer I have known a lot of lead pencils in my life and this one was beautiful. Oh , the pencil was Irene! The thought went thru my mind--Irene was still beautiful because the "ugly" was the cancer inside her body. That had to be the reason. It was a relief to see a bit of beauty among all this UGLY---even if she was a lead pencil.
I looked up to see Vicki, Tania and Jen walking across the parking lot. Were they all supposed to be here? Thank heavens,they were all looking their sweet and lovely selves. They walked through the door.
Suddenly Tania' s beautiful long braid stood on end. It was bright purple, opened up like a fan and bumped the ceiling tile as she walked. Didn't she notice the clumpity, clump noise her hair made? Her skin was turning bumpy and orange. She carried her purse to the back seeming oblivious to it all.
Wouldn't this ever stop?? How did we all end up in the Land of Ugly?
Where was Vicki? She had climbed up on one of the stools by the checkout but now she was standing on it. She looked like a Krystonia character and she was only about 18 inches high. Her hair was still beautiful but when she smiled her teeth were Krystonia gems and the glare caused me to jump backwards. The warts on her face looked like green olives. Good Grief!! She was smoking a cigar!!!
I was about to tell her to stop, when my eyes fell on Jen. Was this Jen? She waddled toward me. Her shapley figure had turned to marhmallow fluff and her butt dusted the floor and cleared counters on both sides. Her hair was wooly, curley and beady little eyes peered out at me in a maniacal glance as she went by.
I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror--my blond hair stood on end like a janitors broom. My skin was the color of an avocado;my eyes had lost their merriment and my long, yellow eye teeth stuck out below my chin. How ugly..
I walked back up the aisle. How could I tell everyone that our "cute" world had just gone to ugly? I had to tell them. They must know. There must be something that would bring us back to "cute". Maybe there were magic words that could once more transform us .
Lost in thought,I rounded the corner,passed the greeting cards over to Cairn display.
The Cairn gnomes were never "cute". I always thought they were ugly,but they were clever. They drew me to them with their delicate call to the imagination. They were still dark,interesting and charming. So here in the Land of Ugly they would now reign supreme! I did notice one thing about the little guys---they all seemed to be smiling.
Then I heard a cute little voice. My reverie was broken.
"Jean, would you like to take a coffee break? I picked up some crispies at King Soopers." At last,it was Helen--with magic words--she had broken the spell.
Helen patted me on the shoulder and said, "It's o.k.. You'll heal now."
I had been debriefed.
I was back in the Land of Cute where they serve coffee and crispies .
Now I'll never know what they drink in the Land of Ugly.
To all of you beloved Village Gifts Staff--thanks for your love, your thoughtfulness and for making this "old queer" a part of your family without question. If the world was as open-minded as all of you, I could kiss my lady Love on the cheek, hold her hand,list her as my partner,claim her on my insurance and just love her without being judged. If I have left anything with you--remember this--we all should have the right to love the person we choose,if they choose us.
I am proud that my 10 year old and 13 year old Grandaughters know that my move to Michigan is about loving Lady Love, a woman and this is what we chose.
Someday it will be so. The next time you vote for human rights think of me.
I shall never forget my time here and the joy, laughter and tears shared.
How special you all are to me.