The Loveliest of All

Don’t tell the children but I am involved in stealth preparations for our upcoming camping/driving trip. I have decided to prepare one paper bag full of trinkets for each morning we are on the road. Trinkets include: bandaids. Fish crackers. Action figures. Small books. Pencils, paper. I figure the novelty of these trinket bags will last at least the first 30 minutes of each day’s driving after which Fresco will probably be sleeping because he falls asleep as soon as he smells that fresh car interior these days (not sleeping more than 7 hours a night will do that to you) and Trombone will commence doing whatever he’s doing at that point – shooting trees out the window with his imaginary tree gun? Looking for pirates? Hard to say.

I am buying all my trinkets (except the fish crackers) from Value Village. Value Village will sell you a plastic baggie full of assorted toys – Happy Meal crap, dollar store baby toys, things crawling in lead paint and toxic plastic that’s been through the mircrowave even though the label says no! don’t put it through the microwave! – for $1.99.

I am not buying the evil things, though, don’t worry. I am selective. I did this before our trip to Penticton, too, and it worked well; twice as well because I bought all the stuff with Fresco while Trombone was in preschool but because Fresco is 2 years old he didn’t remember any of the toys. I also got Saint Aardvark a Battlefield Earth figurine for father’s day and I should disclose that it was actually an exorbitant $3.99 but you know what, he’s a hell of a dad. Totally worth it.

Today my children were taken away from me for the day by my parents, whom I love so very, very much, and I went to Value Village alone to get trinkets. I got some Playmobil dudes with horses, some yo-yos, some Spiderman lunchboxes, a metric buttload of assorted stickers, tiny board books about tractors, all manner of whoop dee doo! for the under-five set. I also found a full set of plastic dishes and cutlery for camping. Four plates, four bowls, four mugs, four each of forks and spoons and knives. $1.99 and AND AND!! inside one of the mugs, a small bear figurine pouring himself a glass of wine.

That was all I needed from Value Village today – really, isn’t that enough? – but as I walked to the checkout I passed the framed pictures section and overheard the following conversation between a middle-aged man and his middle-aged female companion.

Man: But the thing is, you can’t just buy the frame. You have to take the whole thing.
Woman: …
Man: See, the frames, I like. But I don’t want the picture inside. I shouldn’t have to pay for those.
Woman: Yeah, I see what you mean. But you could just take the pictures out, right?
Man, disgruntledly: I GUESS so.
Woman: Like, if you buy a photo frame at the store, there’s a picture inside, right?
Man: Yeah…

…I was about to go peer into that man’s face and say, “What are you LIKE?” but I got distracted by a glittery picture in a gold frame (the frame’s gold was peeling off, sort of sunburn-y) of a unicorn in the moonlight.

So I picked up the unicorn in the moonlight, semi-etched in glittery silver on black, framed by peeling gold, and I said, out loud, “Oh, it’s PERFECT!” and the people glanced at me and then scurried away.

Like everything else I was buying, it cost only $1.99, so I brought it home. You’re safe with me, little unicorn. I BELIEVE.

(it’s really hard to photograph a glittery unicorn in a glass frame and really capture the magic. You’ll just have to come over and see it sometime.)

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