Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why is there a doily shortage?

Doilies. They broke me.
It seemed simple enough. After the fifth email Reply All message begging classroom parents (and c'mon, we all know that means the ones who identify as "mother") to contribute something for the Valentine's party, I caved. Lest you think I am ungenerous for waiting so long, I have donated my not-inconsequential weight in goods and years of my life in services for school parties, fundraisers, auctions, and teacher appreciation days (we appreciate you! We do! Here's a gift card). But this once, just for Valentine's Day, I was holding out for some of those women at our school who, yanno, don't work outside the home, for money, 60 hours a week, at four jobs, and homeschool, and well ... anyway, I was waiting for someone else to step up. Someone else to say those five simple words: I will bring the doilies.

Because it's Valentine's, y'all, and that means doilies. Right? Think about all the freaking valentines you made in school by folding a doily and an aligned sheet of red construction paper down the midline, just so, and then awkwardly carving a half-heart shape out of it with your blunted, sad little pair of safety scissors. What joy! How fun was that, right? Who wouldn't want their children to not be able to relive that thrill of flattening those folds to find that you, little old you, had created a heart. And not just any heart but one with frills and lacy designs and scalloped edges that made that plain, dusty-red construction paper leap with beauty and grace. I mean ... this experience is obviously a must-have.

But no one stepped up. No one. The room parent stooped to begging. "OK," she wrote, "we've got a lot of snacks here, but can anyone bring some doilies?" And that little plea, so plaintive and heartfelt and full of "enough with the freaking healthy snacks already!" broke me. And I emailed back from my traitorous phone (everything that goes wrong in my life is my iPhone's fault because my phone is an asshole) those critical five words: "I will bring the doilies."

Verily, she was grateful, and I felt like a true philanthropist. It'll be simple, I told myself. This weekend, days before the actual party, I'll stop at a drugstore or a Target, I'll find that flaming red and Pepto-pink aisle full of hideous cards featuring hideous cartoon characters that have nothing to do with love or Valentine's or saints or even holidays of any kind, saying ridiculous and sometimes vaguely suggestive things that might not be appropriate for grade-school children ... I'll find that aisle, I'll grab a packet of white, lacy paper doilies, and I'll have accomplished my duties, my burning need to bring the thrill of making paper-doily-layered valentines on that precious, precious day.

You can see where this is going. The title really was a spoiler, wasn't it? Sorry about that. Six stores--CVS, Rite-Aid, Michaels (Michaels, for God's sake), another Rite-Aid, a Whole Foods, and a Target. Target. One mystified and beleaguered Target employee told me that I was the seventh wild-haired, frantic woman to ask her that question in the last two hours. Not one fucking doily anywhere. Not one. This expedition required two driving trips during a three-day monsoon and took hours. No doilies. Not paper, not knitted, not red or white. Zip. 

After having a near-breakdown in Target (my last great hope, as always) among the leering Sponge-Bobs, the heartfelt Angry Bird bombs, and the apparently popular ugliest possible shade of pink ever to assault a retina, I gave up. I took out my asshole phone and emailed the room parent six simple words. I'm no Hemingway, so there's no genuine pathos hidden here: "Six stores. No doilies. Getting stickers."

So stickers is what they're gonna get. Retailers of the USA, what, exactly, have you got against the doily?

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