Thursday, May 14, 2009
It all began when I decided to collect dryer lint.
Well, actually, it all began when My Mom gave us a present of a do-it-yourself bear.
No, that’s not true. It all began when... Heck, it all began when God created the heavens and the earth, I suppose, but you already know that story, so let me pick it up when I’m about three-years-old.
When I was young, I had teddy bears. You probably did, too. If you didn’t, that’s why you’re the way you are now. In any case, most people who have teddy bears when they are young do NOT have teddy bears when they are old. The teddies somehow cease to exist, going back to the magical place where teddies come from in the first place.
My teddies, however, decided to stick around. They enjoyed my company. As a matter of fact, it seems they enjoyed my company a bit more than I enjoyed theirs. This was proven by the fact that I stuffed them into a closet for quite a few years, beginning when I was 10 or 11, but, upon bringing them out of the closet sometime in my thirties, they bore no ill will or hard feelings towards me and we picked up right where we had left off.
MY WIFE is also beloved by stuffed bears. Thus, it came to pass that my old teddies, and some of her old teddies, as well as a select group of 45 or 50 other ursines of good breeding, now live in our house. They only take up most of the living room - and parts of the dining room and basement – and they don’t eat much.
Why, here they are now!
(Yes, we realize they're not all bears. Some of them are honorary bears.)
One thing that happens when you have a house full of bears is that people who like to give you presents often give you more bears. This is both a blessing and a curse. While it is nice to know that people care enough about you to notice what you like, when they give you the 46th bear to take up residence at your place it is not easy to tell them that you really don’t need any more bears, thank you, and a nice book or some summer sausage – or even cash – would be preferable.
And that brings us to the part of the story where My Mom gives us a do-it-yourself bear. It was a kit, full of fabric and thread and instructions, and, when completed, would be a wonderful handmade teddy. Very thoughtful gift, except for one thing: Neither MY WIFE nor myself is a seamstress. Sure, MY WIFE can darn socks - and I can damn just about anything - but sewing is not on our list of Skills Which We Are Very Good At And Could Be Counted Upon To Perform Should We Find Ourselves In The Midst Of A Nuclear Holocaust.
(Yes, we have such a list. Or, at least, we will any moment now because it sounds like an excellent future blog post.)
The do-it-yourself bear languished in a bedroom, under some old boxes of photos, for six or seven years.
And then I began collecting dryer lint.
You might well ask yourself why I would collect dryer lint. It’s a reasonable question. Of course, you’d get an answer more quickly if you asked ME instead of yourself, but what the heck. I’ll pretend you asked me.
See, every time I emptied out the lint vent in the dryer, I thought to myself, "Self, this looks like a lovely little blanket!" And so it did. Then I’d crumple it up and throw it away like any sane person. Except, one day a little over a year ago, I said to myself, "Self, you must be able to find some useful purpose for this stuff." And so, I began taking the little blankets of laundry lint and saving them.
Once or twice a week - whenever I dried a load of laundry - I’d clean the vent of lint and put the lint into a plastic bag. After a couple of weeks, MY WIFE noticed me putting some lint into the bag. She asked, in much the same way as I pretended you did above, just why in hell I was saving dryer lint.
When she asked me, I hadn’t thought it through far enough to have come up with an answer for such a question, so I improvised and told her I was going to make a pillow with it. I thought that was a pretty nimble answer for spur of the moment. She then asked me if I knew that dryer lint was one of the most flammable substances on the face of the earth and collecting a bag full of it in the basement wasn’t really the safest thing to do. I told her I was going to make a pillow with it. Seeing that I had no real plans and I was just crazy, she stopped asking me questions.
Except, now that she had asked me the question and forced me to come up with an answer, making a pillow had actually become my plan.
I saved the lint, the bag grew fuller, and her birthday approached.
(You might be able to see where this is headed. I didn’t. I’ve explained it more fully, to you, than it was happening in my brain at the time.)
Lest you think the only thing I was going to give MY WIFE on her birthday was a pillow full of lint, I’ll set the record straight. I bought a couple of other things. And I had another idea formulating in my head (yes, the same head that decided to save dryer lint and make a pillow out of it, but that didn’t deter me.)
One day, I was sitting on my bed, having a smoke, and I noticed the do-it-yourself bear kit that My Mom had given us, lo, those many years back. I went over to where it was sticking out from the pile of boxes and brought it into the light. I opened it up and studied the fabric and pattern. I tried to imagine myself actually constructing the bear. It would be a pretty cool present if it were something I actually made with my own two hands, right?
No! It would be a hideous present if it were something I made with my own two hands! I could no more imagine myself sewing that pattern together, in a way that would make a recognizable bear, than I could imagine performing successful brain surgery on myself using a spoon (although, God knows, it has to be fairly clear by now that such a thing probably couldn't make matters worse.)
I put the do-it-yourself bear back under the boxes.
We now come to about a week before MY WIFE’s birthday. I still have the vague idea of making a pillow from the dryer lint, but I’m not entirely sure HOW. I supposed I could buy a pillow, unstuffed, ready-made, then just jam it full of the lint, zip up the zipper, and there you go! Pillow!
Turns out that making a pillow isn’t quite that simple. They expect you to at least sew in the zipper, or even put the whole damn thing together. I could have bought a zippered throw pillow, and then opened it up, took out the stuffing, and replaced it with my lint, but that seemed sort of silly.
And then, I was at work, searching the Internet for pillow-making kits that even a dope like me could do. And, as I continued this fruitless search, my partner in the production department, Dan, came into my studio and looked over my shoulder. He asked me what I was doing. I told him, briefly, about the lint. Being more imaginative than many, he sort of understood. Dan is the type who sees an interesting piece of wood in somebody’s trash and then takes it home and makes a vacuum cleaner out of it. He’s very handy.
So, I asked him if he knew where I could find a ready-made pillow to fill up with my collection of dryer lint. He said he wasn’t sure about that, but he could probably make one for me himself. I wasn’t surprised to hear it.
Turns out that Dan took sewing in high school. He’s a manly man, does lots of woodworking and repairs that involve screws and torches and hacksaws, so picturing him in a sewing class wasn’t easy. However, it wasn’t impossible, either, so I asked him if he was serious about making me a pillow. He reminded me that he and his wife, Mandy, had sewn their own wedding clothes. True. Not bad, either.
Then it all came together in my diseased mind. How much tougher could it be for Dan and Mandy to put together a do-it-yourself bear? Well, tougher than a simple little pillow, obviously, but would he be willing to do it?
Yes, he would. And so he, and Mandy, did. And they delivered the empty bear carcass to me, in a brown paper bag, on the morning of MY WIFE’s birthday.
This surprised MY WIFE quite a bit, seeing as how Dan & Mandy live in Worcester and we live in Watertown and it was Saturday morning and Mandy was wearing a bright green wig and Dan was wearing shamrock headboppers.
They were on their way to a Celtics game. Dan had finished sewing the bear together the night before and asked me if it was all right to drop it off on their way to the game. Sure, I told him, as long as you deliver it in a plain brown paper bag, which, as previously noted, they were doing. MY WIFE was mystified, which is often the case when it comes to my behavior. After they left, I went into the bedroom and stuffed the bear carcass full of the collected dryer lint.
I’m happy to report that a year’s worth of dryer lint is just exactly enough to bring one bear to life.
And the bear’s name is Rosie, since the material is... well, rosy. He doesn’t realize that his stuffing is different from other bears, so if you visit us someday and say hello, don’t tell him. It would probably scare him quite a bit if he thought that he might burst into flames and kill us all in a moment’s notice.
Now my only problem is figuring out what to do with this year’s dryer lint.
(To MY WIFE: Just kidding! I’m eating it.)
Soon, with more better stuffing.