Bad Gifts #3: Things in Tiny Packages
Things in Tiny Packages.
Please spare me the “Good things come in small packages!” Hallmark-brand of doo-dah.
I’m not talking the shiny silver boxes given by the freakishly attractive cyborgs who live in the holiday diamond ads.
Things that come in small packages are almost never good.
Lest we forget:
3.) Rhode Island
5.) Rose-scented hand soaps
The latter was a Christmas gift I received at the age of nine from my eccentric, World’s Best Gift-Giver, Aunt Lela. And guess what? It came in a tiny package. And it perfectly complemented the other household items I got from her that year — kitten towels, a bathroom rug, doilies, oven mitts, an egg timer. Should I decide to run away and live on my own in a retirement village, I was all set.
I recall that after a mere five uses, the soap, which was perfectly sculpted into three lazily lounging cats, dissolved into mauve-colored runny goo and later formed an impermeable rose-scented mildew ring around our bathtub drain for weeks.
Not to mention, the soap left me reeking of geriatric lust. Which was about as lusty-scented as I needed to be in the fourth grade. Or maybe in the tenth grade for that matter.
Things I purchased for my mom for Christmas usually fit in tiny packages.
A ceramic beagle the size of an eyelash wisp. A pewter kitten who could’ve cat napped inside a matchbox. A porcelain chick who might’ve very well hatched from a larva egg.
Together they formed a fine layer of dander across my mother’s kitchen ledge for at least two decades.
Then, I suspect after years of feeling utterly useless and wholly insignificant about their place in the universe (while suffering through a mutated strain of Short Man Syndrome), they drafted a suicide pact and collectively threw themselves off my mom’s windowsill.
Sadly, the pewter kitten was the only survivor. Today she spends her days planning for the next chance to do herself in, perhaps dreaming of being soldered to a charm bracelet where she can serve an actual purpose.
Of course, these tiny items were all I could afford with my meager allowance. The sterling silver hippo was well out of my price range. Most Christmases my dad would simply push me off into a store with five bucks in my pocket, and then he’d wait outside for me to make my purchases.
I’m pretty sure at least once I secretly blew the money on useless crap for myself. Which might explain his 25-cent gumball machine rabbit’s foot keychain.
And then there was the Christmas present I got from my brother. A tiny box wrapped in comic book paper. I think he added some ribbon for authenticity’s sake.
Nothing about a Christmas present given to me in early November seemed peculiar. And then I opened the box to see a bulging pile of grass. And my brother immediately grew his telltale Ted Bundy smirk. When I threw the box down, knowing I’d been had, a large inhabitant with eight legs made his way out of the box to reveal himself in all his fur-covered glory.
He was probably relieved to be out. He barely fit inside the tiny package.
Sadly, I don’t have a photograph of me proudly displaying my Christmas spider. Or of the Kodak moment when I opened it.
So I’ll have to borrow from my mom’s expression from the Christmas of ‘83 when she opened yet another thimble-sized barnyard animal.
That right there is the look of someone on the brink of a Glass Menagerie-style mental collapse.
Or the look of a spider-in-a-box recipient. Take your pick.