Sunday, September 8, 2013

Unlikely Wisdom from a Paper Mache Doll

Do you ever pass by something every single day without really looking at it, and then suddenly one day it just seems to stand out to you in a way that it never did before?

If you're a New Yorker, you've probably had this experience before. We are so bombarded with images and faces and debris that we tend to tune it all out as a defense mechanism. It works really well. It's how I seldom notice things like this on my commute:


Anyway, I recently had that experience in my own apartment. In our kitchen, we have these tchotchkes that sit atop our shelves. Here they are in all their glory:

It's kind of a strange collection of gifts, souvenirs, and memories of my different animal decor phases (to elaborate, I was really into decorating with elephants my sophomore year of college, then it was pigs, then it was owls, and now it's pretty much exclusively cats). These objects are very much out of the way, but they add a splash of whimsy to our kitchen, and that's really what life is all about, isn't it?

Anyway, I'd like to zero in on one item in particular here. I've taken it down so that you can get a better look.

This little paper mache man hails from San Antonio, Texas (and possibly Mexico before that). He was one of several purchases we made at Market Square to use as table decor in our fiesta-themed wedding (again, whimsy). Here he is in action:

I'm not going to lie, he was not my favorite guest at our wedding. In fact, I only bought him because my mom found him and thought he was really cute. He wasn't my thing, but this little statue made her happy, and that made me happy, so I let him stand on a table on the big day.

He was then put in a box and forgotten until we moved to New York. We threw him up on that shelf, knowing that he would give me nightmares if I happened to put him somewhere more visible.

I passed him every day without a second thought, but one day he caught my eye. There was something different about him. I approached him semi-afraid that I was going to discover that he was alive like that girl who gets turned into a doll on Are You Afraid of the Dark.

Not as scary as I remember it, actually.

When I got closer, I noticed there was a strange watermark on him, maybe some kind of picture. I reached for a chair so I could stand on it to get an even closer look. Immediately, it became abundantly clear why he'd caught my attention. 

I screamed for Daniel, who wrongfully assumed that I was crying out in pain (my bad). When he found me, I was clutching the paper mache statue, cackling to myself. 

Here's why:

Are you seeing it? Let me help you.


Yes, friends. Right on the crotch of my dear paper mache friend here, clear as day, is a picture of Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants.

Now, it is possible that over time, while sitting on that shelf, the paint on this cheaply-made paper mache doll faded to reveal its original paper. I, however, like to imagine that it was like this when I bought it, and I was so lazy about planning my wedding that I didn't notice that SQUIDWARD was making an appearance at one of my tables. FLIPPIN SQUIDWARD, guys!

 By the way, here's a little bonus I found a few days later.

eeeeYEP! That's Sandy Cheeks, another Spongebob character, sitting right atop the ass (or rather, the cheeks) of my unwanted paper mache doll. Who the hell made this thing?!

For the record, this is now possibly my favorite item in my home. I just love it. I will probably pass it down to my grandchildren.

This stupid, Squidward-riddled statue serves as a reminder of the kind of person I hope to be. I want to be the woman who foregoes the veneer and instead allows my flaws to be exposed.  It is so easy to live a life that extinguishes identity. Any opportunity we get to hide our true selves, we often do. We like to paint over the undesirable aspects of our lives, but I want to be the one who makes it plain that I am so very far from perfect, and that it's okay. 

And how very fitting that this dumb statue was at my wedding! There is no day where you seek perfection more than your wedding. You wear a pristine, white dress. Your groom brushes his hair for once. Everything is beautiful, nothing is supposed to be out of place. And yet here at my wedding, for an entire table of people to see, stood a giant statue with a Squidward crotch.

This all reminds me of a joke my dad used to tell me.

You know what they call the guy who is dead last in his class in medical school? Doctor.

And folks, do you know what they call the couple who put a statue of Squidward out on a table at their wedding to be seen by at least ten of their guests, if not more? Married. 

Look, brides. I know the details of your wedding are really stressful. I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy. But at the end of the day, if your wedding doesn't end up looking exactly like your Pinterest board -- if your cake looks like a boob or your bridesmaids all decide to wear Billybob Teeth, guess what? You'll still be married.  

This would actually be awesome.

Trust me. At my wedding, all kinds of crazy stuff went wrong. The DJ was having technical difficulties, and our first dance song sounded like a band of demons belching the alphabet. I forgot to smile while walking down the aisle, and now my pictures look like I was being dragged down it against my will. Plus, we didn't have a receiving line. But guess what? By the end of that night, we were still married.

So whether you're getting married or just trying to make it through the day, let's take a lesson from my creepy paper mache doll. Let's leave our conceptions of perfection at the door and instead be the real freak shows that we are. Believe me, it's way more fun. 

Case in point...


  1. I love your mom, but that doll is as creepy as they come!

  2. That was way deeper than I was expecting; that first picture threw me off. But all of that was good stuff.

  3. No Pants Subway Ride, definately one of the better hijinks in NYC...


Popular Posts