Sunday, March 3, 2013

I Loathe Lighthouses!

Six or seven years ago, at a Relief Society retreat in Raleigh, the event organizer asked us all to write down three harmless secrets. "Interesting things that nobody knows about you," Amy specified.

She dug each item out of a hat, read it aloud, and then asked everyone to guess who had written it.

After several iterations, Amy pulled a strip of paper from the hat and started laughing.

"I'm sorry," she gasped, "That's just so...random. It says 'I hate lighthouses.'"

(It was one of those "late at night/girl slumber party" things where everything seemed more funny than it actually was.)

Nobody guessed the correct identity. (I may have subtly laid false trails to deflect attention away from myself.) Eventually everyone gave up, and I confessed. Then I explained (briefly!) why lighthouses are evil incarnate.

I've always been rather proud of that minor feat. Mystery, suspense, humor, entertainment. Plus a great missionary moment.

I was reminded of that a week ago, when the following conversation took place: 

Jon: Don’t let Mom see that!
Eric: What?
Jon: That image on your screen!
Eric: A lighthouse--?
Jon: Shh! Don’t let her hear you say that word!
Eric: What’s wrong with a lighth—
Gail: A lighthouse? Where? Gaaaaargh!!!! [She rushes over to his computer screen and mimes stabbing it with a knife. Then changes the background image.]
Eric: What is wrong with a lighthouse?
Gail: It’s not a castle!
Eric: [laughing] Lots of things aren’t castles!
Gail: Yes, but lighthouses are SPECIFICALLY not castles! Come into the living room, and I shall explain…
[The family gathers ‘round]
Gail: Long ago, I liked lighthouses. I thought they combined a pleasant form with a useful function. Your father and I even had a fascinating conversation about the emerging technology of digital signals on unmanned buoys in the oceans, and the growing use of GPS navigation aboard cargo ships, back when we were still dating.
Jon: We did? I don’t remember that.
Gail: [to Jon] It was one of many fascinating, minor conversations we had early in our courtship while walking to class. [Continues] When I was engaged to your Daddy, I went looking for castle decorations for the wedding reception. I walked into hobby store after craft store after home decoration store after dollar store in the Greater Indianapolis area, and in every single one, I saw lighthouses. Little lighthouse toothbrush holders. Medium lighthouse wooden cutouts.  Large lighthouse umbrella stands. Oil paintings of lighthouses in huge frames! No castles. None. I started to hate lighthouses…
Eric: Did you complain to the store managers?
Gail: Yes.  And they said things like “We’re a national chain. I don’t actually have that much control over my inventory” or “Um…well, here’s a catalog, and there’s a small, blurry, black-and-white image of the single castle in our inventory. I could special order it and have it here in two weeks…”
Jon: Did you go online?
Gail: YES. You may recall that we talked on the phone every night, and I complained frequently that I had tried numerous internet searches which had availed me nothing. [Acting increasingly like a mad hatter, hands twitching to her hair, voice going wonky in silly melodrama.] I grew to loathe lighthouses…they drove me bonkers…the mere sight of one sent me screaming in frustration…
[Eric and Daniel giggle extensively]
Gail: [briskly] But, really, I’m over it now. I don’t hate them anymore.
[Eric and Daniel giggle even more.]
Eric: [wryly] I can tell.
Daniel: Do you really not hate them anymore?
Gail: [conspiratorially] Actually, I don’t mind them so much. I just ham up the hatred because I think it’s funny…And that’s our scripture study for the night! Forgiveness! Charity! Turn the other cheek, though the lighthouse stalk you seventy times seven…
[They pray and family harmony is restored.] 

I've done it again! Mystery, suspense, humor, entertainment. Plus a great missionary moment. Even reconciliation. Though if Jon can't remember conversations about lighthouses and castle shopping, what's next? I suppose soon he won't remember the dress I was wearing when he proposed. Tsk, tsk.


Carolyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn said...

I remember that summer. I also remember about three years later, wandering through the same stores and seeing nothing but castles. Apparently there can only be one kitchsy decoration scheme per season.