This year it seems I have escaped the Christmas hysteria. Working in the public school system is like a holiday area 51: occasional slips, but no actual evidence of suspicious activity. I can’t say I mind; I think this year I’d rather sleep through it all. This last weekend my children were looking for a gift and thought it would be a good idea to stop at ABC Carpet in New York on our way out of the city so that my youngest son could see Santa. The older ones had fond memories of the unusually thin primordial man in an appropriately ancient crushed velvet Santa suit that passed out strange trinkets like skulls and little hearts on colored string. When we got there we found a line for Santa that wrapped around the building. I told everyone to go inside and look around, while I waited in the line. My daughter came out a few minutes later having seen the impostor posing as Santa (a stereotypical fat and jolly man) giving out – candycanes. She was outraged and hastened out to spare me the long wait in the cold. Candycanes: really.
Inside the store it was a covet-a-thon. I fantasized about the simple beautiful glass cups stacked in rows across a table: I could see myself carefully drying them and putting them away on my imaginary shelf. I don’t really want any more stuff. I’m traumatized by the accumulation of possessions that have already occurred in my life, but there are a few lovely things I don’t mind thinking about. I have had a perfect bowl in my mind. Something that would suit the granola I make. The size and weight is very important, and in this era of supersize, that perfect object of my fancy is not easily come upon. True, I’m not really looking, but I have it in my head if I stumble across it some day.
The entrance of the store was a confused jumble of people: screaming children recovering from the awkward sit on Santa’s lap, and masses of shoppers. I turned amidst all the shine, glitter and sparkle that is ABC Carpet and there it was: the bowl. It was small, footed, the clay turned to an impossibly thin diameter. Around the circumference 1/2 an inch from the top was a row of embossed dots, ever so delicate, it was glazed in a semi opaque white allowing some of the reddish clay to peak through intermittently. It was sublime. I wasn’t going to buy it, but it pleased me to know that some day I might. It exists! I turned it over to see how much it cost. Eighty dollars. A bowl? I searched the sticker for some sign of reality; perhaps it was 4 for eighty? 2 for eighty even, I’d take 2 for eighty…not really. I gently put it down, looked around to see if other shoppers were experiencing sticker shock. Everyone seemed oblivious. I know it’s ABC Carpet, and I have an unfortunate tendency to always pick the simple yet deceptively most expensive item, but come on.
I found my young son and decided to take a guerrilla style photograph of him standing “next to” Santa, I had him stand in such a way as to make it look like he was right next to Santa’s lap even though he was 15 feet away. I wasn’t going to leave empty handed, damn it!