The Paper Clips

By the desk near the fax machine that nobody really wants, there is a special drawer for paper clips and erasers. It’s in the corner, like an afterthought, just like the paper clips themselves. Only slide projectors and viewing screens can be seen up front, but it wasn’t worth the fight for visibility. 

Paper clips like their unobtrusive, low-commitment-oriented life. The front of the room is too bright. Really the only ones that like center stage are the kind of assholes that run for a political office. Even local law has mirrors for windows.

Paper will become obsolete, the up-fronters say. As if this is something I want to hear. Monitors are popular, but they’ll die off too. Who doesn’t remember Elmo?

It’s the importance, the integrity of the position that really matters. Not the actual position. There is no twisting involved with a screen. Lazy by nature, they demonstrate the shapes and activity that only in-betweeners have. 

Not the display. Not the object on display. Paper clips fit somewhere in the middle. 

Don’t you worry about being replaced?

The up-fronters think honesty and tact are two separate things. 

I look at the stapler. He’s still here. I look at the rubber bands. They’re still here too. I try to find the pencil sharpener, but it’s not in the desk. The erasers are on borrowed time. 

The Mall

Dear Sears,

I know I don’t know you super well, but I always liked bumping into you. You were kind of like a staple. I want to say you had a mint green sign with block letters, but I could be wrong. Mint green just seems to fit. Not because it’s cheap, I didn’t mean that. It’s fresh. Like something new and today.

Maybe it wasn’t green. You were more like a “basics” store, but not like “basic” basic. You were the one moms went to when their kids needed a portable basketball hoop. I think you also sold lawnmowers?

When I heard you were closing, all I could think about were those catalogues with the points so that the more you bought, the more you saved. I think there was a point system for Marlboros too, but that definitely wasn’t as wholesome.

In the early days, back before flat screens, did you sell Betamax? Most people don’t like videos anymore, I sell them as vintage collectors items. They aren’t actually showcased. People have to know about them to buy one. 

It’s a shame we didn’t connect. I remember the deluxe patio set with the grill and spatula sold together. You had the cardboard cutouts of two women grilling in fake grass. I think there was a beach ball behind them and a set of melmac. That was so you. Am I right?

  • Belk 

The Kettle

Two cups sat one on top of the other, upright and full to fat. They bulged, the top hanging over the bottom, while the bottom cup burned underneath. If the kettle was like other kettles, there would be only one. Each cup could be separately cherished. 

Curled together with vines that twinkled, they thought of themselves as bright. Too bright to be in this predicament. But too tied to get away.

One afternoon, when they were shuffled out to a low sitting table in the den, the cups felt heavier than normal. They would never belong to a woman’s full attention. They would always share their afternoon in the sun.

The bottom cup lurched to the kitchen and felt its liquid shift. The top cup moved away. 

“Move toward the one that loves us most.” The top cup said to the bottom.

The bottom cup looked at their guest. Bored, chewing at her nails, a half-eaten bear claw remained on the dish. 

The bottom lurched. It inched closer to the sink. From a slant, the two began to topple.  

When they faltered and staggered, splashing tea to the ground, it was the bottom cup that finally cooled off. It was mopped up and drained out, but the cups remained dazzling. Their love was now filled from their shapes.  

The Battery

Noise Complaint Filed

Washington City Park 

Loud sounds coming from the field behind Jungle Jim. Second report in 2 weeks. Suspicious activity noted. 

Police Report

Full name: Grey Poupon

Date of birth: 8/12/1988

Time: 12:15pm

OFFENSE

Disturbing the peace

Additional notes:

Does not take responsibility for Britney Spears music. Says screaming was due to unruly guests and denies wrong-doing. When asked name, he gave Grey Poupon. He is yellow and in a packet. 

Police Report

Full name: The Can Opener

Date of birth: 2/17/1999

Time: 12:29pm

OFFENSE

Assault/battery

Attempt to flee the scene

Additional Notes

Appeared very angry and in an agitated state. Was still at said “picnic”. Did not show any remorse for hitting baby one more time. Battery appeared fine, but bruised.

Police Report

Full name: Battery

Date of birth: 4/25/2000

Time: 12:40pm

OFFENSE

Destroying property

Additional notes:

A boombox was destroyed between 12pm and 12:39pm. Apparently direct damage was not intended. When battery left, the music died. Noise is kept at a minimum. 

The Sofa

OtherDoor

When Neighbors Start Walking

unREALcouchpotato1966: New to 8th street

Hey guys,

I’m new here as you can probably tell by the moving boxes set out on the curb. I was going to call someone to remove them right away, but then I thought about the neighborhood. I thought, why get rid of my old treasures when somebody else might enjoy them just as much as I did?

So here’s what we’ve got. 

  1. A rainbow throw blanket from the 70s. This is real. The guy I used to live with gave it to me when he was in college and there’s minimal damage. Blanket may need a wash, but I’ve found a lot of people like the scent. 
  1. Round pillow speaker. I don’t know if you remember, but these were really popular about twenty years ago. You can fall asleep listening to music on a soft plushie. The speaker still works, but there is a high, whale-like, sound every few minutes. I think Britney Spears had one.
  1. Gold. This might not be real gold, but it could be. I found it inside one of my pockets the other afternoon and I’m guessing one of the kids from the old house shoved it in there. But it could be real gold.  
  1. An assortment of buttons, coins, and movie stubs. These are antiques. The only reason I’m not saving them is because of my allergies. 

Again, I’d totally call someone to haul this stuff for me, obviously it’s not a cash-flow issue, but I just figured, sharing is the neighborly thing to do.

Comments (5)

SarahDandtheKttens: Are you the house with a metal rocking horse in the front?

AnneCommings1953: Isn’t there a dumpster on 7th?

UnicornMadness: I don’t appreciate the depiction of horses as simply tools for riding. I have a horse and she is very intelligent. 

AnneCommings1953: I really think the dumpster is empty. Nobody uses that dumpster. You could put the horse in there too.

LampShade: Are you selling the buttons individually?

The Gift

Is My Child Gifted?

Many parents with exceptionally talented children wonder if their child may actually be gifted. Since there is no official diagnosis, gifted children can vary in their abilities. Any child can be gifted for a fee, but there is no guarantee they will be received well. 

What Does It Mean To Be Gifted?

According to the National Association for Gifted Children, children are considered gifted when their ability is significantly above normal range. According to the Post Office Association, a child is considered gifted when they reach the front door of any house, apartment or place of residence.  

They do not need to be gifted in one particular specialty such as math or science. They can be gifted in multiple areas of interest including Alaska, Iowa and the IGA. Florida is off limits. 

Common Traits of A Gifted Child

All children are unique in their own way, but some are more distinct than others.  Two specific traits are often seen in many gifted children.

  1. ) A developed sensitivity. Certain children are sensitive. This can be a sign of a gifted child or something else. Many gifted children who excel at math and science are often bothered by loud noises or certain fabric. Children who are gifted must be wrapped in non-styrofoam peanuts for the majority of their transition. Upon arrival, crushed velvet is preferred.  
  1. ) Puzzle play. Abstract thinking that involves complex problem solving abilities can be seen in the early development of gifted children. Gifted children may have been subjected to confined spaces and complex postal systems. This may be particularly disturbing during the holiday season. Many gifted children prefer to find a way out as soon as they are gifted.  

Early Testing

Parents can and should opt for testing. If you suspect your child is gifted, they may seem strange and out of place. To better detect any possible diseases, fleas or emotional disturbance, testing is recommended for any child that thinks outside the box. 

The Power Lines

There was once just one. A long skinny line strung up in the sky carried voices. So many tunneled in. It seemed there should be two.

Two lines of communication running parallel could do the trick. One could carry half the load. The other, the other.

One kept quiet. When the other wondered about their share of the conversation, whatever was said remained silent.

Inside the telephone wire there were people with problems. Casserole recipes. Questions about estrogen. Their friend. Their friends. Their other friend’s friends. All day both lines heard the frequent chatter of others.

“As big as a watermelon.” One voice recounted.

“Babies are too fat these days.” Throughout time they transferred information to each other.

But the wires were quiet. Side by side they did not intersect. This was because one was the other. And the other was the other just the same.

The Couch

sofa

 

4/2/2009 

For Sale: Like New Couch $150

Purchased this couch from an antique dealer last month for $800. Couch sports a rounded back with real wooden frame. Complete with claw feet and down padding, this gem would make a fine addition to any home.

The couch has a slight vintage scent to the cushions, possibly from incense or cigarettes, but goes unnoticed fairly soon. The stripes are lined with gold thread, all hand stitched. While precise in design, there are some tiny holes toward the back frame. Fingernails are easily removable.

Couch has plenty of character and adds an ambiance you and your company will never forget.

Immediate offers only. I can deliver for an extra $50.

 

24/11/2013

Seeking Professional: Need My Couch Fixed

I need my couch fixed. I don’t want to pay much money, but willing to trade. Couch is rough, but solid. Friend gave it to me last year and it smells a little like citrusy bubble gum. There’s some feathers coming out of the back, but I patched it with garbage bags. Still needs help.

I’m willing to trade VHS tape collection, stack of Tom Clancey’s or non-working Vespa.

All four legs work. Two legs missing.

 

18/9/2018

$20 COUCH: corner of 8th and Springfield/PICK-UP ONLY

I’m moving next month, but I had to get the couch out. It’s a nice couch – pretty stable all things considered. Couch has been in the living room for a couple of years, kept meaning to replace it, but never did. It’s comfortable and there are no springs. Smells a little spicy.

There are a few minor details: The thread on one of the stripes is unraveling. Two of the legs are a little wobbly too. On the top right shoulder there are 3 stab marks, but the down is still intact. All down has not been removed from when I bought it. Original down is vintage and does not smell.

Will not deliver anywhere. Must pick up immediately.

 

22/6/2020

Missed Connection: Striped couch by 7/11

I thought I saw you. First I thought, no way, it can’t be the same couch. But then I saw the garbage bag patch-up you taped to the back. I tried to move it off the street, but the legs kept breaking off. First the front one went and I thought, eh- that one was always crap anyway. But then the second one flew off and I couldn’t grab it fast enough. I threw most of the couch into a cab and tied the remaining half to the door. The driver said it was in violation, but we almost made it home. I don’t know what happened to the other half. I’m guessing it’s by the chicken place. If you find it, let me know. I’ll pick it up for free.

The Fabric

jcrew

How is this possible? You’re telling me, I can’t sit on the grass, collar popped and comfortably breathe in the fresh air? You’re telling me the polo match is canceled? What about the vineyard itself? Is it, too, closed to the public?

And what is “public” anyway? Children in stained shorts? Walmart? What about the private sector? What about the natural, organic spread of pure material? 100% wool vests? Unmixed cotton? You’re telling me we’re no longer invited?

I demand a refund. I wasn’t made to sit, holed up in some closet, only to wither away from society. The public pool may be closed, but my family owns a house on the lake. No, not the lake you’re thinking about. The lake. I’ve been going for years.

You can’t tell me to close up shop. I live in Tyson’s Corner. I was born for a high end lifestyle and I won’t tolerate quitters. You think you can tell me what to do? Who’s your boss? I want to speak to the manager.

The Lamp Post

mistletoe

Here I am again. Hanging out on the street corner. Every year it’s the same thing. Someone strings me up on the lamp post and 5 hours later, someone comes back with a girl they position underneath me. “Look.” He’ll point. “We’re standing under the mistletoe.”

The girl will glance up. She will give me the same look she gives the someone beside her. Ah yes, I can hear her think. How did I end up here again?

I am the only mistletoe around for blocks. Yet everyone knows I exist. The lamp post, while beautiful in its own right, both resents and enjoys my popularity. At first, the pointing feels good. Basking in the glow of his own light, he feels a surge of pride from the strangers looking at us.  Then comes the eggnog.

Early December is not so bad. The Christmas music is at a comfortable Mariah Carey intimacy. Mid December and the shoppers are getting more hectic. By late December, Perry Como has peaked and the eggnog, while once a disgusting choice of raw egg and cheap alcohol, suddenly makes an appearance.

Loud after-work parties and sloppy caroling seem to never end. The lamp post isn’t pleased. Teenage boys with dog-like tongues kiss the girls they like best. The lamp post glares at me. Come January first when I should be taken down, it’s just me and the post-Christmas post.  Here I am again, wondering whether someone made it home with someone else.