A couple days ago, I swung by the local Sears delivery point to pick up a brand new bed set my wife ordered online. Since we live in a remote location, these delivery points are a useful feature of the local commercial landscape. This particular one is in the bottom of floor of a little strip mall. It is dim and cluttered, but it does the job.
As I picked up the delivery, the lady at the counter, who was only a few years younger than I, rummaged through a new box of Sears catalogs and popped it onto the ginormous bag in which the bedding came in.
“Did you know that we are also now offering the telephone order service. You didn’t have to get caught up in costly long distance phone calls to Toronto anymore.” The clerk announced eagerly. “You can simply leave a message on our answering machine and we’ll handle placing the order for you.”
I smiled at her offer of such a cutting edge service, but I did not have the heart to tell her about this newfangled thing called the Internet.
She triumphantly held aloft the catalog she had by now liberated from its shipping box. She plopped it down exuberantly on the bed set. I dubiously eyed the addition, since I had decided to use the pickup as an opportunity for a little exercise and had walked down the hill from my house. It isn’t a huge distance, but I wasn’t looking forward to the concept of lugging the bag up while juggling this awkward inch-thick softback glossy paper tome of consumerism. I politely took it, since I figured at the very least I could ensure that this particular copy would make it to a recycling bin rather than the dump or simply tossed to decorate the countryside with more unsightly trash.
I trudged the shipment up the hill to our house, channeling every ounce of Sherpa mountain guide I could conjure up. The catalog ended up perched on the living room couch while my wife and I adorned our bed in its new finery. During this time, our boy discovered the marvels contained within the catalog’s inviting pages. I almost had to wrestle it out of his hands to get him to lunch. He spent the rest of the day dashing back to ogle its enthralling contents of toys and baubles. By nightfall, he was fixated on a particular page that displayed a few snazzy train sets.
He came running down to the basement where I was working on a report for work with a page held aloft, roughly torn from the magazine.
“Uh, oh, did you break the book, kiddo?” I asked him.
“Noooo!” He thrust his little arm out for me to see. It was the page with the train set. My wife had removed it from the catalog as it was the only one he was looking at and was hauling the document all over the house. She thought this would help him lighten his burden.
After getting him into the bath, we engaged in the nightly book reading ritual. He insisted that it culminate with a prolonged examination of the ripped page. He gazed at it as if it held the secret to life, the universe, and everything. I knew it held nothing but the forbidden promise of unfulfilled dreams, but I wasn’t going to break it on him, as I remembered fondly my own reverie in contemplation of the potential held by similar pages a little over three decades ago. We eventually had to turn the lights off and lay him down to sleep. The page was set down on the floor, next to the books we had read. We closed the door as he drifted quietly off to sleep.
The next morning, he did not wake us. This is highly unusual, as he is usually the first up in the house. He usually comes tearing through our bedroom door to hop on the bed, bounce around, and climb under the covers in an attempt to rouse us from our slumber so as to force us to flip the TV on and give him a glass of milk. Not this time. The house was gloriously quiet. We managed to eek out another half hour of sleep before my wife pulled herself awake. It was probably some bit of motherly instinct, that bit that invariably cooks up conspiracy theories and potential ploys of destruction that your children could be conceiving when all is too quiet, that got her out of bed. She shambled gingerly over to his room, stiff from the unexpected gift of extra sleep.
“Ha! You have to come and see this.” She whispered back to me.
What? Can’t I just lie here for a little longer? It’s such a rare and precious moment. Sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep!
“Quick. Come see!” She insisted.
Ok, ok. I’m up. I swung my heavy legs out of bed and my creaking back cracked and groaned in protest as I stumbled still bleary-eyed towards the kid’s door. There he was, lying face down in his bed with the page from the Sears catalog clutched tightly in his arms.
It was no wonder he was still asleep. He must have been having some sweet dreams.