The Village of the Damned – Part 2

Click here to start at the beginning of our saga. Otherwise, let’s jump into the fray…


The standoff at Kohl’s continued for some time. No one was willing to take a risk and be the first to trust that the rest of us would be kind and decent human beings and not rip into their stash the second they walked away.

And why should there be any trust? It was a full two months before Christmas, and yet every one of us was crammed into this tiny Holiday Section, fully determined to get started on our Christmas villages today. Clearly, we were not right in our heads. Therefore, common decency was way down on our list of priorities.

Still, until I had a receipt in my hand, the new crop of love-children would not be officially mine. So I had to get all this mess to the sales counter in one trip. I took a deep breath, hauled out a stack of those flimsy Kohl’s mesh bags that I had stashed behind a dancing snowman that grunted Bible quotes (the crowd gasped at my subterfuge), and I got to work.

Fifteen minutes later I had rigged and trussed together this convoluted contraption that looked like something Leonard da Vinci had scribbled on a sketch pad when he was envisioning the day when people could float through the air and earn frequent flyer miles. It was uncomfortable, and it was heavy, working muscles that were not thrilled with the wakeup call. But I managed to wobble my way down the aisles, with my da Vinci wings sweeping entire displays off endcaps and knocking over one woman who only got out “Can you tell me where the-” before she was flat on her back, questioning her life choices.

Naturally, there was a huge line at the sales desk. What is up with the checkout people in Kohl’s? Are they all anemic? Why is it such a tremendous struggle to lift a crouton and drag it over the little scanner device? Did you not understand that you would have to do such things when you took the position?

And what’s with all the conversation? We don’t need that. You people are here for one thing and one thing only: your job is to quickly and efficiently scan my purchases and get my ass out the door. I don’t need to hear about your bunion that magically appeared in an unusual location. I couldn’t care less that you have a full-grown sister that you didn’t know about until yesterday. And the bank that is trying to repossess your ridiculously over-sized pickup truck currently taking up three spaces in the parking lot?

Two things on that last subject. Number one, you work at Kohl’s as a cashier. I’m sure you’ve got some very nice benefits and your co-workers are pleasant. But you can’t possibly be making enough money to afford the monthly payments for a vehicle that costs more than my house.

Number two, you don’t need a vehicle capable of hauling a 5-ton payload. When are you ever going to require that kind of horsepower in your entire life? You don’t live on a farm where you might possibly have use for such a thing, you don’t transport heavy machinery, and you are not pulling smashed boats out of a harbor after the latest hurricane. You live in an apartment, and the biggest load you will ever carry is a fresh shipment of diapers for the seventh child you just produced as a result of someone breaking out the tequila during a Cowboys football game.

Why do so many of these Texans insist on having a truck bigger than Rhode Island?

It just amazes me.

Anyway, Bunion Lady finally figured out what buttons to push, my credit card was not rejected even though it probably should have been (as a sign from the gods that I was on the wrong spiritual path), and I waddled to the car. The deed was done. It was time to race home while my madness was at fever pitch and get started on some analytical village planning. I had some new recruits and they were going to march onto the field of glory.

Now, ground zero for the village is in the “formal” living-slash-dining room of the house. It’s an oddly-shaped room, something like 20 feet by 40 feet, positioned at the front of our dwelling. This space actually has two entrances, both of them pocket doors, which were apparently really hip at some point, probably around the time that Mamie Eisenhower was serving apricot sorbets in the White House.

This is where we keep our classy stuff like the hugely-long dining table that can seat about fifty, a jelly cabinet (yes, that’s a real thing, look it up) where we store fancy serving ware that we never need, a pie cabinet (also real, keep googling) with more useless but pretty items, and a massive storage facility designed in the manner of a giant apothecary cabinet, an immense piece of furniture that can hold something like 1,200 music CD’s in its many drawers. And it’s completely full. That thing is so heavy we haven’t been able to move it a fraction of an inch in seven years. There must be a mat of dust bunnies under that thing so thick that you could insulate a spaceship.

Yet for the most part, we never even enter this room, unless we’re looking for a Madonna CD that we haven’t heard in a while or we haven‘t seen the cat in a few days. It’s kind of sad, with all the neglected finery waiting to be loved. Or at least dusted.

On the flip side of this neglect is the fact that I can use this room as a staging area for whatever holiday is in need of tribute. I do a pretty aggressive Halloween thing, with tons of cobwebs and creepy lighting and battery-operated thingies that gurgle and howl. We also stage Easter-egg hunting competitions at various times of the year. (An odd thing we do, I’ll save the details for another blog post.) But mostly, this is the Christmas Village room, wherein I completely transform the room for months at a time.

In the initial years of the Village, I only made use of a few occasional tables. As the number of houses grew, I slowly enlisted the aid of other pieces of furniture. One of the most creative inventions was learning that I could push two matching waist-high cabinets closer together, take this huge four-part painted screen of Paris at night, fold it in half, and lay it across the two cabinets. Voila. A huge chunk of land had now been re-zoned for municipal use.

I was very proud of this accomplishment. I proclaimed this area the new “downtown”, even though it was technically outside of the previous city limits and did not make any sense. But logic is not important when it comes to villaging. After all, we’re dealing with miniature houses with low-wattage light bulbs shoved up their ass. This is not a reality-based hobby.

The downside of my creativity was that it became very clear that any piece of furniture in the room could somehow be transformed into a foundation for village expansion. In essence, I now had infinite space to work with, and could therefore buy untold units of housing and truly create an empire. Which leads to my second of many sins during the notorious fourth season of the village.

I discovered a nearly-hidden treasure trove of discount Department 56 pieces. Such bargain opportunities usually do not happen. Most merchants keep these things at full price, year after year, taking advantage of the fact that there are idiots even more crazed than me out there, and these fools will happily shell out the equivalent of a car payment just to have a porcelain model of Alcatraz for their collection.

It started innocently. There I was in a Hallmark store, one of those “Golden” Hallmarks for those of you in the know, meaning they have a lot more to offer than just greeting cards and magnetized pink teddy bears that stick together at the lips. This one had a whole section of Department 56 housing, beautifully arranged and everything turned on, twinkling and beckoning. Seriously, I was only there to admire and dream. My wallet was staying firmly in my pants. I could not justify the outrageous cost.

Then this woman noticed me admiring the display.

Perhaps I should really say, this woman noticed me drooling over an exact replica of the Empire State Building and she raced over to stop the acid content of my saliva from stripping the paint off the porcelain. In any case, after she had calmed me down and administered sedatives, she took pity on me, fully recognizing the warning signs of a true housing addict, and she whispered to me after glancing around to ensure that we could not be heard.

“Have you been to Lou’s Hallmark?”

Why no, I had not been to this Hallmark apparently owned by a person with a sexually-ambiguous name. What might I find there, pray tell?

Her voice got even lower, indicating that she truly had something remarkable to share or was actually a man. “She never sends any Department 56 back. She keeps it all. She’s got everything. And…”

S/he looked around again to ensure privacy, so this had to be good. I think I stopped breathing in anticipation.

“Lou marks down her older pieces. Sometimes half off. I am not kidding.”

I had a small orgasm right there. I tried to be discreet, but I could not control a few whimpers of pleasure and a trembling spasm in my left leg. A pinched-faced woman reviewing bible-quote bookmarks a few aisles over glanced our way with a sour look, then went back to pawing the merchandise and leading her life of denial and regret.

My new best-friend looked at me with an expression of “it’s okay, sweetie, Ambiguous Lou has hit my own G-spot many times. There is no shame in the bargain game. Would you like a tissue?”

I swallowed with difficulty, my throat suddenly very dry. “Where… where can I find this Lou’s?”

She toyed with me just a tiny bit, digging in her very hip purse for a tube of lipstick, and then applying a fresh coat without the aid of a mirror to prove that her talents were indeed immense and extraordinary. She clicked the tube closed. “Duncanville. Wheatland and Cedar Ridge. Go now.”

Then she turned on her coutured heel, and the Angel of Wisdom and Villaging exited the store, another goodwill notch in her lipstick case.

Thirteen seconds later I was barreling down the road toward Duncanville, that little burgh southwest of Dallas, my heart racing and the gas pedal mashed into the floorboard. If I caught the interest of local law enforcement, they were gonna have to use road spikes and stun guns to stop me now. In the midst of my haste and wantonness, I failed to consider all the intricacies of my destination. I was headed outside the realm of the Dallas metroplex proper, and whizzing in the direction of yet another example of The Land That Time Forgot…


Click here to read the next entry in this series…


Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 12/21/09 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 12/27/15. Slight changes have been made. (I can see in the stats that a few of you have managed to find the previous run of this series, and I thank you for your gumption, but you might be missing out on little tweaks to the tale.) Story behind the photo: A closeup on one of my villagers, circa some year I no longer recall. On the previous run of this series, I did a quasi-Warhol tribute by using the same image with different color washes for each installment. Since it makes my home page look at least minimally artistic, I’m doing it again. But for those of you worried that you won’t get to see the whole village, rest assured that the Big Reveal is coming…


23 replies »

  1. Dude your posts crack me up.
    Holiday tips:
    Use ice in a plastic egg to hide one of your Easter egg hunt clues. Really deviously devilish and frustrating.
    Use dust bunnies under cabinetry for Halloween decor. Such as spiderwebs, witch hair, or break it all up for smoke effects.
    What to do with aging holiday decor you’re too tired to remove and store? Turn it all into happy disaster day! e.g. Turn tired Hanukkah chazerai into Havah Nigilla Hijaking Day. You serve a nice piece of gefilte fish, have looped video projecting the ‘72 olympics disaster, and light the middle candle on the electric menorah for remembrance. Its so ambiguous you won’t insult anyone – think, “built in plausible deniability.” And you can tell them you have a Jewish friend, Ilene the jewess. I lived in Texas for 7 years and we plan on moving to Austin in the next 12 months. I know the risks.


    • Holy cow, your comment is a joyous minefield of blog-post possibilities. I think I’ll have to execute every one of these delightful scenarios just so I can write about the after effects, but the one that has my heart the most at the moment is the gefilte fish a la disaster avec menorah. The stage setting alone for that will be delicious. I’ll keep you posted… 😉 (P.S. Austin is so much better than most parts of Texas, so you’ll be fine…)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My village started on top of my grand piano. Various sized boxes were covered with white felt and created a terraced view to the top, where of course Mr. Scrooge lived.
    You might check out local thrift stores.
    I also collected Jim Shore (because he uses quilts in all of his creations.) I ran across one of the stars, issued every year for mere pennies and one nice piece of Santa in his sleigh. These were brand new, still in the box.
    People receive these things and either don’t know what they are or they didn’t like the giver. Can’t always find something but then again, sometimes…you hit the veritable mother lode! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Using the boxes to create hills and terraces works wonderfully. As I unpack houses, I use their boxes to sculpt the landscape. And my base “snow” is actually super-cheap white sheets, and then I sprinkle glitter snow (bits of iridescent plastic, I’ve got several gallon bags of the stuff) all over hell once everything is in place. I love how the snow reflects the light from the houses.

      I also love thrift stores. Somewhere in my messy archives, there’s a story about my favorite pair of shoes I bought at Goodwill. They had roses cut into the rubber souls so I was able to leave flowers behind when I walked through sand or something wet. They were silly but they made me happy…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m following along, agog for the next installment (heh heh) really, I AM. But that truck remark above stopped my brain cold. I think the humongous truck phenomenon is actually a substitute for something else that the man has, that’s inadequate in his eyes. They have those beings here in Utah too, particularly up here in the bergs. And to give some credit, there are a lot of cattle ranches and farms and sheep and stuff, so maybe the big truck has a real purpose. But many of them are driven by people who’ve never done any manual labor in their lives. They’re considered trendy I think. The “thing” to have, regardless of the fact that you have to mortgage that 7th kid to pay for the big, gas guzzling, annoying thing. I hate those trucks with a passion. A person driving a normal vehicle can’t see around or through the thing. It’s diesel system exhaust is stultifying. They make more racket than I did on my wedding night. And they are just unsightly (IMHO). My house neighbor (twin home here) has one. She’s a 45+ (maybe older) school teacher who weighs a whole 98 pounds soaking wet. I privately think she’s insane. And I wonder if I may be unaware of the fact that she loves going four wheeling in her spare time…

    Liked by 2 people

    • The mongo trucks drive me crazy. I fully understand having one when you need one, but most people don’t. They just use them as pointless status symbols that mean nothing and wreck the environment. And those damn things take up far too much space in parking lots, with their big-assedness commandeering two slots and sticking out into the driving lanes, causing lots of frustration and impure thoughts in the minds of folks who have to navigate around them. Ugh!

      I need to take a deep breath and go contemplate the pretty lights on the Christmas tree…


  4. The Leonardo image nearly slayed me …. such snorts, undesguiseable snorts. I must also remark that I am concerned with this link-up between France and Texas …. check-outs – conversations, meaningless conversations that we are required to politely endure whilst we wait in line. Who knew? And that lipstick marksman of a Hallmark Angel ….. happy days, happy days and now I must flit to Part Three and leave my little mark (not a pee-mark you understand …. words will suffice)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will always have a fondness in my heart for Leonardo, both the artiste supreme and a casual hookup that became much more than it should have been during my salad days. (Buried story, possibly revealed later, depending on medication regimen.) It pains me greatly that I have made an inadvertent connection between France and Texas, as this is surely blaspheme, but I supposed it’s only right that we address universal transgressions. Still, we have the Hallmark Angel with the perfect lips, and this gives me comfort…


    • I’m sure you’ve noticed that I mention my friend Tiffany from time to time. She has a striking lip-couture skill set that competes admirably with our Hallmark Angel, so I may have shaded the character a bit, but in the end Tiffany never had the foresight to reveal the location of discount high-end miniature housing, and therein the comparison breaks…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Me too (the skipping of the lippie skill) – even though I have a mouth that frankly rivals Julia Roberts or even, dare I say it Angelina Jolie-Pout I seem unable to hit the spot at all without the aid of a well lit mirror and glasses 👓 However, I do have a useful skill to be shared only with the closest and most beloved in my life and that is the ability to apply before an event and not leave a trace in my wake for hours and hours even when devouring sumptuous plates full of food and belting down whatever libations are on offer. I have been asked for this secret by many a barbed woman but I’m enough of a bitch to give false information if I sniff a smidge of false friendship 😉 💄

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, some companies do offer entire sets that you can purchase at once, with essentially everything you need, albeit not necessarily on a grand scale. But I have an annoying habit of often going about things in the most difficult manner possible… 😉


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