If you've never done this sort of thing, it's a lot like attending a reunion for all of the semi-acquaintances you've made over the years. Sure, you have vague memories of names and places and maybe having bumped into some of these lovely folk at one point or another, but you know as well as they do that a reintroduction is going to be in order. Most of the boxes were so disappointingly typical that we might as well have nabbed them from any curbside dumping location: chipped plates, old hairdryers, a random mass of bobby pins and hair ties, etc.
And then... there was THIS:
Meet Crooked McCrackers* (or Prevaricating Polly... or Nicholas Cagey... we haven't really settled on a name), a life-sized mechanical parrot purchased as a novelty Christmas gift for our son, many years ago. I remember being a bit bummed when he had only a passing interest in this amazing, interactive critter. I mean... it's a mechanical parrot! It dances! It talks! It's the perfect accessory to any self-respecting (but not even remotely nautical) pirate! Shunned, the poor thing had ended up in a box in the garage. Forgotten. Discarded alongside half-finished coloring books and shoes long outgrown. Only as I was pulling it from beneath a mound of shredded newspaper did I understand why our sweet kiddo hadn't been as joyful in receiving this gift as we were in giving it.
Look. At. That. Face.
The furtive stare. The shady smile. This is not the countenance of a toddler-friendly toy. This is the face of an evil genius who's had ten years alone in a box to plot his revenge without distraction. This is what you see right before your eyes get plucked from your head and deposited in your pocket with a nightmarish squawk that will, in true Princess Bride fashion, echo in your perfect ears, forever. This face doesn't say, "Let's play!" It says, "Let's play with a guillotine. You go first. I like to watch." Of course my son hated it. He probably thought it was the adult-to-child version of the Black Spot. Looking back on it now, it's rather amazing that he didn't require therapy.
How awesome is that?
I had to keep it.
Salty Slick has since taken up residence on my drafting table, where he and his shifty eyes can keep watch over the comings and goings of the office. So, if I take my sweet time getting around to my next picture book, you'll understand why.
And if I don't post again within the next month, please send help. Odds are, he has me tied up and stuffed in a cardboard box labeled "Yard Sale Junk."
It is an enchanted life I lead.
*Actual name: Squawkers McCaw - FurReal Interactive Parrot