Of course, he was just a little guy back then. Four years old, the apple of everyone's eye, curly blonde hair and big blue eyes and the sweetest disposition in the world. His proudest possession was his brand new pocket knife. His mom's proudest possession was her new dinette set, delivered that afternoon. Those soft and gooshy seat cushions were full of wonderment for our knife wielding hero that day. Why were they so soft? What was inside? Carefully, precisely, with great deliberation and concentration, he carved his favorite number - 4 - into the center of each of the chairs. After all, he couldn't assume that they were all the same, could he?
The new furniture was consigned to the basement that evening. The felon lost his implement of destruction. His mom remembered the feeling of loss fifteen years later, when I met her for the first time. Some things resonate deeply for very different reasons.
I helped a friend make the thousands of decisions involved in building a house from the foundation, up. I wasn't trusted with the prettifying details; I was the one who could be counted on to get excited over door hinges and switch plates and outlet covers. Every choice was considered, evaluated, pondered, even obsessed over. There was nothing random about their space; they waited until they found the right piece before any furniture was ordered.
When the dining room set was delivered, I was invited to be the first to see it... in the afternoon... after my friend got home from her little girl's play party. Somehow, after leaving kindergarten just before lunch with a playmate, her big boy and his pal managed to swipe random streaks of vibrant oil paints on the front and back and seat cushion of one of the chairs. The babysitter, interested in the sudden quiet, discovered the two boys intently decorating the new furniture.
My girlfriend was furious, appropriate use of painting materials was discussed with the miscreants, the sitter was encouraged to keep a closer eye upon her charges.... and then there was the chair. Reupholstering one of them would mean a different dye lot, a slightly different color, a jarring element in an otherwise well planned environment. It didn't take long before she got to work; her plain grey chairs were splashes of playful color after she and her paintbrushes were finished with them.
It made for a great story, especially since her son could be counted on to remind the listener that painting chairs was "really, really fun."
I was reminded of this by a cousin's Facebook post.
Ballpoint ink on a leather headrest...I'm not sure how to punish this crime...I want something that is fitting and hopefully make her think twice before destroying something again. Any thoughts? — feeling annoyed.The first few comments were on ink removal; it's not a hopeful scenario, I'm afraid. Graffiti removal and paying for the re-upholstery job have popped up, too. I wondered if they wanted to decorate the whole thing, a la those dining room chairs. It's all about perspective. I bet that pen felt great, sinking into the textured leather. It's a snapshot in time, the doodles she is drawing this summer... and only this summer, it's who she is and how distracted she was and yes, the car looks like crap but, somehow, I can see the kid's point.
Then, again, they weren't my dinette chairs or dining room set or headrest. My guess is that my perspective would be just a little bit different if they were.