Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friedrich: The Grumpy Garden Gnome

One of the fun parts of being home is finding old school work. This was written during my first semester at Interlochen and though it doesn't have a date on it, it must have been written in either late 2001 or early 2002.

The pedestrians usually stayed across the street where there was one perfectly tended garden left to gaze at and compliment. But this pair was different. The small one grabbed the larger one's hand and rushed over to Friedrich.

They had placed him on a cement block in the corner of the garden, now overgrown with weeds, and had long since forgotten about him. He was the only lawn ornament save for the tire, which was nearly covered by the tall grasses.

The neighborhood had deteriorated quickly once Friedrich had been placed on the cement brick. The once neatly tended houses, manicured gardens, and freshly painted white picket fences gave way to peeling paint, broken down cars jacked up on cinder blocks, and chain fences that kept the dogs in their own yards. Friedrich felt responsible for this, as though his own inadequacies had spread across the entire street.

He felt guilty, moped, and, with time, just became angry at himself, at the world, at anything that moved, at the weeds that at least were covered when the snows came, at anything that was purple, and most especially at all pedestrians. It wasn't the joggers that made him so angry; the ones that really got to Friedrich were the strollers. Those people who walked calmly and slowly, talking about the weather or spreading gossip. Yes, it was the people who walked that pained him.

It was usually late spring when the walkers began to emerge and take over the sidewalks in force; bundled up in warm jackets with racing stripes that matched their shoes, out of shape and breathing heavily from their winter with no physical activity.

This small one though, had a pink tutu coming out from underneath a purple coat and blue sweat pants, so that it orbited her like rings around a planet. She tugged her mother's hand, let go, and poked Friedrich's nose.

"I like this one, Mommy," she said, and squatted in front of Friedrich so that the back of the tutu sat in a muddy puddle on the sidewalk. "Can I have it? It can come play in my room with Rachel and Celery and Petunia and my other dolls and we could call him Marvin and have tea parties and chocolate and cookies?" The girl's mother looked at the boarded up windows and the "For Rent" sign. She took a moment to wrestle with the idea of taking an abandoned garden gnome, decided that it didn't hurt any of her principles, bent down and picked Friedrich up by the pointy hat.

Friedrich attempted to squirm out of her grasp, but realized that he was made from molded plastic and couldn't move. The tutu clad girl cradled Friedrich in her arms and walked with her mother back to their home where Friedrich was dropped onto a pile of clothing in a closet.

Friedrich took a moment to consider his new situation and then began to despair; it was only a matter of time until this closet too began to deteriorate. The fluffy stuffed animals would give way to boxes of makeup and nail polish, the framed finger paintings would move to make room for posters of rock bands and the pink tutu would be stuffed into a box, a box which Friedrich was almost certainly headed towards as well, and then the box would be given away and he would once again be placed on a cement block and watch his new neighborhood disfigure itself. Friedrich wondered if he was a negative gnome.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Oh my goodness! I remember this so well. I think that that exercise in writing short-shorts yielded some of the best stuff in that whole class.