Sunday, October 09, 2011
Kitsch of Death
That didn’t take long.
I’ve been in my new apartment for about two months and I just had my first decorating catastrophe.
I’ve been trying to change. For years I’ve never really bothered to put a personal mark on any of my apartments--mostly because I was living in towns I didn’t like, working at jobs I had grown to hate.
It didn’t seem worth the trouble to make my place homey when I was always dying to find another gig and skip town like an escaped convict busting out of death row.
I’m going to do things differently with the new place. Not only am I only going to keep it neat, but I’m going to put up posters, photographs, and knickknacks to make it look like someone actually lives here. And I’ve got plenty of stuff to choose from since we’ve been cleaning out my family’s house.
One of my favorite items was a wall-clock sized thermometer from Hatfield Quality Meats that had been hanging in our home for several presidential administrations.
This thing is a kitsch classic, emblazoned with the face of a cartoon pig wearing a chef’s hat. It’s a tacky salute to a bygone era when…pigs wore chef hats.
My father was a meat salesman and after getting the thermometer as a freebie, he brought it home and proudly showed it to my mother. He wanted to give the thing a prominent place in the dining room, but my mother took one look at the Hatfield pig and turned in a real McCoy. She banished the temperature-telling porker to the porch wall.
It makes me think of that atrocious leg lamp from "A Christmas Story" that Ralphie’s dad so dearly loved and Ralphie’s mom so thoroughly loathed.
However, unlike the leg lamp, the Hatfield thermometer—spoiler alert--wasn’t destroyed under suspicious circumstances. It was doing just fine until I got my hands on it.
We were all set to put the Hatfield hog into the donation pile, but I got this sudden urge to keep it in the family. I actually liked the thing, so I packed it up, brought it to my new place, and hung it over the doorway leading from the kitchen to living room.
All right, I thought, so satisfied with myself, I’m making my mark. Only I didn’t make it for long.
My landlady had given me these sticky hook things for hanging pictures because she doesn’t want me hammering holes into the walls. I thought they could handle Hatfield, but then I came home and found out otherwise.
It was a pretty grisly sight. There was shattered glass all over the kitchen floor and the porcine chef, now uncovered and exposed, look forlornly up to the ceiling.
The only thing missing was a circle of yellow crime scene tape and two detectives from “Law & Order” taking my sobbing statement. It was a case of negligent hamicide and I was the guilty party.
I was so upset I want to go to crying all the way home, wee-wee-wee, but I already was home.
I shot an email to Hatfield Meats asking for their advice, which was really a stealth appeal for a replacement, but an executive wrote back to say that I was “probably one of the few who still have one of the thermometers.”
One of the few? Maybe I should call Indiana Jones.
I was ready to give old Hatfield a proper burial (throw it in the garbage) but my sister encouraged me to contact a local glassmaker to see if I could get a new cover for the thermometer.
So I’ll give him a call and see if I can’t get Hatfield repaired and returned to his rightful place on my wall. It’ll be something to squeal about.