Tag Archives: Wallpaper

La Chasse Aux Canards

Growing up, my parents, my mother especially, periodically had fits of home improvement that often manifested in schemes to re-decorate the house.

One time, it was all new lamps (i.e. all the lamps in the house, replaced, with new ones).

One time, they let my aunt’s idiotic boyfriend spray-paint the kitchen cabinets so that they looked like stone – the dark grey textured type you’d find inside derelict amusement park rides (jungle themed or the like), or a poorly drawn cartoon.

One time, they decided paint was passé and wallpapered all the bedrooms, including mine.

My parents. They were (and remain) the “Children are meant to be seen and not heard” type. Which meant they picked out the wallpaper and did not consult us or take any protest on our part either seriously or at all. Which was fine with my siblings and I because we’d long resigned ourselves to living in a cramped house with loud tastes where everything, invariably, clashed. An amusement park ride, of sorts, of its very own.

You had to laugh. You just had to.

They wallpaper my parents picked out for me had dogs on it, at least.

“You like dogs. I got you dogs,” my mom said. “There,” she said, a word with as much finality in our house as, “So, there” or “The End.”

I did like dogs (I do). And was actually surprised that my mom had made such a concession in her decorating on my behalf.

Except. Interspersed with the dogs (a trio of spotted hounds) across the beige and brown background of the wallpaper were long cattail reeds, ducks in various stages of flight and men with guns. Muskets, actually.

A duck hunt frozen mid-frame repeated ad nauseam and plastered across the four walls of my bedroom. I would not have known what to do with such a scene – such a substance as that wallpaper – had I known beforehand that it even existed. But then, just like that, it was in my life and would remain so until we moved from the house, many years later.

I often think about my childhood bedroom as a sanctuary (I had a lock on the door and was generally left alone when in there). But then I remember the wallpaper and remind myself that freedom can be as much a luxury as it is a joke. Concessions can be their own intrusions, dogs or no.

There were men on my wall shooting at ducks.

Sometimes I imagined the ducks got away; other times the dogs or men got them. Eventually, I learned not to see men or ducks or dogs and just let the wallpaper be wallpaper.

Come to think of it: I never thanked my parents for the wallpaper. A part of me thinks that that’s only fair, but then we were never talking about fair, not here or anywhere even remotely close to it.

Were we?




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Filed under Animals, Birds, Change, Family, THE PAST


Have you ever felt different?  Not different simply as an individual, but as an entire class of person?

We had a “gifted” class back in middle school.  For homeroom, each class was assigned a number and a letter: 7A, 7B, 7C, 8A, 8B, 8C, etc.  But the gifted class was different.  They were “the kids with the sofa in the classroom”.

Luxurious, plush, brunt sienna brown.

A very nice sofa, nestled in a cozy corner of their spacious classroom. They had study centers with tables.  Dioramas and posters of Winston Churchill.  I believe they had wallpaper.  It had patterns;  flowers, math equations.  They had computers that they used in the classroom, which saved them a trip to the room we all used, the one down the hall.  The common room.

It was OK, though.

We probably weren’t going where they were going and, likely, to where they already had been.  All things being equal.

We knew it.

It helped that they were nice.  You know, gracious.

They let us sit on the couch sometimes!

One day one of the best of the brightest – no lie, she was a kind of god among gods among mortals – she was all this and more, and yet she failed to show up to her final exam.  No one knew where she was.

It was a mystery that lasted hours.

Later it was found that, on the day of the exam, the student’s mom had found her passed out on the bathroom floor.

She had put the Q-Tip in too deep.

The "Q" stands for...?

Buyer. Beware.

I like to imagine her, standing there in the harsh relief of the setting sun.  Standing just outside the bathroom door, agreeing with her mother that telling the school the truth would be the easiest Thing.[1]  Standing there and solemnly nodding her head, knowing that word would get out, eventually, inevitably.

Deep. Not that relative.

The instance you feel resistance, you’ve gone too far.

Human, after all.

[1] She was allowed to make up the exam.

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Filed under Education, THE PAST