Friday, December 05, 2008


Today at work I was putting together a project using artwork made by children. Children who had used a lot of glitter. I'd been working on it for half an hour or so when my co-worker stopped by with a question about a different task. I stepped away from the project to answer her, pontificating on the topic for a few moments. "So I think it should work out fairly well," I concluded.

She nodded gravely and said, "Yes, I think you're right, Glitter Bear."

So I guessed a lot of glitter had transferred from the artwork to, well, all over myself. This was confirmed later when another friend asked to use my cheek as a mirror so she could touch up her lipstick. I don't know, is that better or worse than surreptitiously checking yourself out in somebody's glasses while they talk to you about TPS reports?

When I was a kid there was this area in our house, right off the living room, which served as my dad's den. He had his comfy chair in there, and the record player and stereo and speakers, and cupboards full of tools and things. The wall with the cupboards had this huge mirror that ran all along the wall between the lower and upper cabinets. For some reason my sister and I had the bad habit of focusing on the reflection of my dad in that mirror when we were talking to him, instead of looking directly at him. Looking back, this seems odd (and also, ooo, kind of foreshadowing of my later tendency to prefer email and internet interaction over face-to-face relationships!), but at the time we seemed unable to break ourselves of the habit, no matter how much it irritated my dad.

And it irritated him endlessly. I'd go in to ask him a question about homework, and as he started to explain the difference between the distributive property and the commutative property of numbers I'd watch him and pay close attention at first. But then, irresistibly, my gaze would drift over to watch the reflection of my dad explaining the math properties instead. As soon as he noticed, he'd launch into his frustrated rant. "You look people in the eye when they're talking to you! I swear I'm gonna get a hammer and smash that goddam mirror if you kids don't stop staring at it all the time!"

You know, that rant was always much more interesting the way it was delivered by my dad's reflection in the mirror. I could have watched that distant red-faced image wave its arms for hours.