Welcome to Episode Four of Momday Motivations. Today’s topic? Getting High At Christmastime.
Yes, you read that right.
As seasoned readers are aware, I’m writing a memoir of the somewhat miraculous transformation I underwent during my ten-year (1983 -1993) stint at Frankie Robinson Oriental Gallery, a Vancouver Asian antiques institution.
The owner Frankie Robinson was (and is) my extraordinary mother. As I outline in the book, working with Francine certainly wasn’t on my list of initial must-do’s. I’d graduated five years earlier with a Theatre degree and merely needed money to return to university to become a teacher.
I’m the first to admit teaching wasn’t a calling and that it was a damn good thing for all that I ended up earning that tuition money by working in the shop. I’ll spare you the details here (it’s all in the book) of how I chose to defer my return to university for a year and eventually forever, by fast forwarding to Christmastime in the store.
Getting High At Christmastime
I learned very early on that Frankie Robinson Oriental Gallery wasn’t a source for stocking stuffers. Our reputation was strictly one of high-end Asian antiques; the place where you spent the loot Aunt Millie dished out at Christmas. That needed to change. Francine agreed that we should invest in a series of “smalls;” affordable, quirky and unique contemporary items.
Aware that it was imperative that we get the word out that changes were afoot at FROG, we settled on sending out informative Christmas cards to anyone who’d bought from us over the previous year.
The theme was a natural.
Francine got to work creating a drawing for the front of the card and she came up with a beaut. The frog was marvelously plump with a mischievous expression, and a thick, jaunty bow tied around his neck.
There was just one problem. The drawing needed jazzing up, so, naturally, I volunteered to hand color all 350 of them and I was insistent that the body of the frog should be reptilian green and the bow a Christmasy red.
My first attempt, while spectacular, proved a difficult standard to maintain as it involved painstakingly sweeping the pencil crayon over the image. The slightest hint of a rush left it looking blotchy and uneven.
I abandoned the pencil crayons and moved on to the felts.
Happily Francine had a stash on hand. These ancient, chunky and pleasant-to-hold delights worked a treat, sweeping over the card beautifully, leaving me capable of churning one out in a fraction of the previous time.
You would have been impressed at my productivity. I sat plunk in the middle of the teensy, airless store, hunched over a small antique Chinese blackwood table ($895.00) with a teetering stack of plain cards piled to the side, the finished products gently fanned out on the floor; the latter a necessity as it took a good seven minutes for the ink to dry.
That first day of the felts was both Francine’s day off and raining, leaving me free of distraction. My world quickly shrunk, and immersed in the heady scent of acidic ink, work was All About The Card. Snatch one up, uncap the red felt and press the tip around the perimeter of the bow. Then replace it with the green felt. Uncap and splay it over the frog, starting at the tips of his toes, up over his chunky legs, over his hips and back, then carefully avoiding the bow, sweep on up over his head. Then swap out the green for the red and efficiently fill in the bow. Voila.
On repeat, this artistic endeavor was purely hypnotic. After the initial 25 I became a little loopy. This was fun! By 50, the bow slipped free to swim merrily over the frog, making me giggle and envision an imperative alternative! A purple frog festooned with a magical bow ablaze with fiery orange and mystical maroon dots …
Just then, the door opened, soberly ushering in my first customer of the day. I found it markedly difficult to focus on this well-dressed gentleman I’d never seen before; his reaction decidedly abrasive and jarring.
“Christ! It smells like a goddamn auto body shop in here!” The nasty man vanished and I forgot all about him as I dreamily returned to the new and improved card. I managed to color in a good third of it before his surprising return some 20 minutes later. Holding one hand firmly over his nose and mouth, he thrust a brown paper bag at me with the other.
The room was now mysteriously spinning and my brain felt sluggish and thick but I willed myself to peek inside. To my utter surprise I spied …
Sorry, you’ll have to discover the contents in the book. Stay tuned!
Enough about my getting high at Christmastime. I’m curious about you. Have you ever gotten high from felts? Have you ever inadvertently fallen loopy? Better yet, did you know that next Christmas it’ll be legal to get high on weed in Canada? Does that alarm or delight you? If you’d care to share, I’d love to hear.