Saturday, December 24, 2011

Spotting the TV Stand at De Pere Christian Outreach Three Days before Christmas

By Jen Hunt

As you dashed to the thrift store
You prayed the bin of
Packaged Rudolph noses
Spied on your last visit
Would still be there
Which was quite honestly your only mission
Going in
The stand to house
The 40” Flat Screen
Purchased on Thanksgiving
Was not on the list
At least not
Your living room deserved better
(Chimney stockings
Another matter)

When Lo! an obscure chest
Catches your eye
Its top drawer adorned
With peeling decoupage
A Depression child’s dresser
You suppose
Its tongue-in-grove seams                                                  
Promise pure wood
Under the grooves
But your route to a closer look remains blocked
--As misfortune would have it--
By a stout glass-topped piece
At knee height
Or was it fortune?
Because when you turned
To move the obstacle
What did you spy in the opposite corner
But a frayed but honest stand
Marked “$15 NEW”
Probably a Shopko store sample
Bruised by the coil of humanity
Pushing shopping carts
And eyeing specials
On Black Friday
You surmised

You rushed to the fading grayed teller
In the red Penguin sweats
To ask to mark it SOLD
Which she did
With great pity
“It says NEW here, ya know
But I can tell you it ain’t
See all them scratches?”
She warned
And you had

It is quite possible
You yourself had
Already passed the table weeks before
Telling yourself smugly how
It wouldn’t do
The stain was too light
The surface too marred
And weren’t you proud you had finally learned from the foul
Water-stained number disgracing your den
Of which you might never be rid that
You only get what you pay for

The stand may or may not fit in your van
Parked on freshly-lined asphalt just outside
Good thing the kids were still at school
For now
So the back seats could go down
But fit it did

It was 1:00
Your boys have a way of spotting cast-offs
Ten miles out
And snubbing their noses
Like a mother bird smelling on her chick
Human scent
But if you can get the cargo into your living room
Primped and clean
Before the kids return at three
There’s a chance
It will be accepted
(That would take a miracle)

Perhaps the tint is too orange you wonder
As you jostle
Your catch into the daylight
 “Nothing a little touch up
Pen can’t fix” you say
Pointing to the
Hideous scratches swathing its form

The volunteer retiree
Carrying the end opposite
Nods half-heartedly
Unconvinced it can avoid
Next week’s trash bin

No time to lose
You lug it alone
To the den
Loud bangs all down the hall as you go
Before charging your
Wood de-marker marker
With the impossible task
Of making the thing tagged NEW
Look the part

Maybe one hour
Of frenzied scribbles and burnishings
And a tap or two of polish later
And you will re-right yourself and stare
In awe
Unsure quite how
Like a Charlie Brown tree
Your stand has transformed itself
While your nose was down

You believe
Were you to add ten zeros to the tag
And wait at the door for their arrival
Once they spotted
The stand
In the corner of the living room
Your sons
Would be unfazed
At the price

Christmas Eve will come in two days
And you will place the stand
Beneath your new flat screen
And weep the tears
Of the generous,  the wise and
The unworthy all at once
To have come on such an unlikely gem
For so cheap
A bit like Mary in the stable
So long ago
As she thought of what took place
When she hadn’t been looking
And all that was born
On her knees

Your sons will have good news to tell their friends this year
You hope
As you round the last round-about