I decided to build a decorative wall of pipe cleaners and hotdogs to commemorate my mother's oldest birthday. Sixty-two of us chipped in to buy three packets of hotdogs for the occasion. I chose to construct a wall because I didn’t like a lot of the people who would be attending the celebrations and this would properly ensure segregation between myself and my jovial collection of acquaintances, and a few old flames. (A handful of cigarette butts I’d failed to properly extinguish. I don’t know why they were invited. Their stories were terrible.)
After realising these were not nearly enough materials to build the forty foot high barricade I had drafted with my oversized pencil in my undersized notebook, I carefully laid down my jacket and jumper and sought the disorganised culprit. I glanced briefly into a mirror. My bouffant wasn’t looking nearly as unattractive as I thought.
My mind said it was Derek the Dodgem Car - who was recently mugged of his great-grandmother’s crumb collection by a cavalcade of pigeons when he broke down in an over-cobbled alleyway. But my heart and my undersized notebook both had on them scrawled in violet ink that Maurice the Moose - who averted his eyes from my gaze when this Horrendous Error was discussed – was responsible.
‘Maurice!’ I shouted, intending to whisper. ‘Who bought you that ice cream/confection? You’re not supposed to have ice cream/confections – it’s a Thursday and your homework isn’t complete. You homework which was to buy the pipe cleaners for my Pipe Cleaner And Hot Dog Mother Commemoration Birthday Wall. Doesn’t my hair look fabulous?’
A tear welled up in the moose’s eye.
‘Hot dogs are very hard to find these days.’
‘No, pipe cleaners Maurice. You were supposed to buy the pipe cleaners.’
‘Oh. I intended to say pipe cleaners. I’m just hungry, I think. All this talk of ice cream/confections.’
So we all went out onto the streets and rallied for hours about the lack of pipe cleaners in ‘…the soft, moist well that is this city’ (a quote from the Sensual Sailor’s makeshift sandwich board). A bystander eventually pointed out that we were marching outside Spotlight, and he was positive they sold pipe cleaners there, except they called them ‘chenille stems’. He should know – he just bought the last packet. I snatched it off him and all sixty-two of us bolted back to the site of my mother’s birthday party, possibly stomping on a few snails as dusk was upon us.
Once the teetering, sculptural mess was erected (we still didn’t quite have enough materials, so the inside was held up with just photographs of hotdogs and pipe cleaners), Maurice apologised and said he didn’t think of Spotlight as a possible location for pipe cleaner sourcing, and had always avoided the store as he didn’t know much about sewing and was afraid of being quizzed on the subject upon entering. He went on to say that alright, maybe Spotlight had crossed his mind - he once read of this exotic ‘chenille stem’ in a travel magazine - but didn’t know much about sewing and was afra- We cut him off with a question about sewing and laughed until our knees buckled and our stomachs ached.
Nestled deeper in the celebrations, I noticed David The Durian moping in a corner and asked what was bothering him. He answered, ‘Life happens only to the loved’ as he watched Rodney The Corset doing his enormously entertaining Marilyn Monroe impression. He felt invisible. (Partly due to the fact that he was invisible.)
‘David,’ I said. ‘You are the most charismatic young durian I know.’ (I only knew one other durian and he was old and sewed pictures of erasers onto the ends of his pencils.) David’s eyes lit up at this statement. Particularly, he said, the part about the Other Old Durian, which I did not realised I had said aloud, as it was bookended by brackets, and not quotation marks.
He then performed the most incredible silent tap dance any of us had seen.
My mother’s crinkly face crinkled all the more, whilst our eyes wandered over to the collapsing pipe cleaner and hot dog wall, which devoured a quarter of the party.