You Break It, You Buy It

It was one of those ubiquitous uptown trinket shops, full of shiny objects that, if you found them useful, you probably weren’t using correctly. Most of the items seem to be wreckage culled from the highway where art had crashed headlong into retail. There had been no survivors.

I filed past the juice glasses with pithy aphorisms that amuse on the store shelf but seem banal when mingling amongst the jelly jars and promotional coffee mugs in the cupboards at home; past the license plates refabricated into bird houses, no states duplicated in hopes that a twister had carried some well-to-do Dorothy into Southwest Portland. (Why else the Kansas feeder?) I had just drawn even with the $76 bottle cap bracelets when I heard a loud thud from the direction of my seven year old. (I had no idea where my seven year old was at the time, at least until I heard the thud.)

The clerk and I arrived simultaneously at the scene of the decibels to see Henry staring at a — Chair? Hassock? Dwarf coffee table? — with comic intensity, as if trying to will the multi-colored fixture into uprightedness. The clerk obeyed his command, flipping it up and examining the edge of the fixture as if it were an elderly hip and it had been her mother’s frame that had generated the thud. She looked up at me sternly, assessing the possibility of a forced sale due to genetic negligence, but my espresso-stained attire put her curiosity to rest.

“It’s fine,” she assured, “But I watched him playing, he really seems to like this piece.”

I eyed the so-called furniture: three lengths of firewood supporting a flat, roundish board about the size of a medium pizza, woodburned and painted to depict the sun and moon competing to illuminate a generic rural farmhouse. $740.00 was written on the tag that dangled from one of the branches.

“I do, too,” I lied, “but it just doesn’t say Kansas to me.”

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