Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Big Bird Wipes Out

Since I confess to being a recovering perfectionist, there was a time in my life when I was a full-0n perfectionist. Let's just call it ages 3-39. How do I know I was a perfectionist at age 3? My larger-than-life Lego set! It must have been an early 70s thing, but the Lego's only came in two colors, red and white. I would connect and disconnect those shiny bricks o' magic, over and over again, for hours on end - red, white, red, white, and so on. Always the same pattern. On the same, off the same. Stored the same way, played with the same way. Yes, I'm in therapy now!

One endearing quirk that I began around the age of 6 was collecting napkins. Not sanitary napkins, I'm not a freak! Birthday party napkins. I grew up in an extremely small Nebraska town where all of us kids where homies. Everyone was invited to everyone's birthday party and everyone had a birthday party! Not the extreme themes or the parent parades of today - just simple cake and ice cream and Pin the Tail on the Donkey (which evolved into Spin the Bottle in junior high... but that is a whole different story). The parties had the cone hats with the choke-your-little-throat elastic, plates, and napkins that matched. Oh, the napkins...

I developed a very unhealthy obsession for those stiff, cheaply-manufactured napkins. They had all of the popular characters of the day: Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobbie, Fat Albert, Barbie, Charlie Brown, all the Sesame Street characters, and so on. At each party I attended, I consumed my cake and ice cream ever so carefully, so as not to use my napkin. If I had the option of spilling on myself or catching the cake with the napkin, I chose the former. Bringing the napkin home meant keeping it from any tears, bends, or folds. It had to be in mint condition for my collection! My beloved napkins were displayed on my dresser with the mirror. I had them alphabetized by character. They were absolutely beautiful - a treasure, true art, pristine beauty!

One day, one horrible day, the unthinkable happened. I was suddenly stricken with the stomach flu. It was coming out both ends. Mainly the lower end. But, that was not the horror of horrors - diarrhea I can handle. We were out of toilet paper. I was in the upstairs bathroom and I yelled for my brother to check the downstairs bathroom. No toilet paper. I asked him to check for tissues or paper towels. No paper products at all in the house. Only.... NO! It's too horrible to even mention!

Well, I ask you, "WWYD?" (What Would You Do?) I was trapped on the toilet. My fate was in the hands of my little brother, David.

"David," I yelled, "bring me my collection."

"Which collection?"

"The napkin collection," I mumbled.

He laughed his ass off! Then he cracked the door open ever so slightly and threw the entire stack of napkins at me (dang, I had a lot of them!) I carefully weighed my options. I started sorting them, first, by color, then, by oldest to newest, finally, by most favorite to least favorite. I grabbed my least favorite. Poor Big Bird. He never hurt anyone. Such an innocent creature!

The most important lesson I learned from that day (besides never run out of toilet paper) was if you are going to collect napkins, make sure they are not made in China and as rough as a tree!

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