Of all the Charlie Browns in the world . . .
Once this triumph was complete, it was time to turn my attention to the dreaded front window. In recent weeks the rest of our library has undergone its annual transformation into a decorative showplace replete with Christmas trees, creepily animatronic Santa Clauses, and a sprawling miniature (and that is an utterly accurate contradiction in terms here) holiday village, with stacks of actual "books" only a seemingly distant backdrop. Due to my Rumsfeld-ian lack of pre-attack planning, when I finally got around to tackling the front window I was left to work with the mere scraps of decorations from decades past scattered throughout our storage attic.
After a few trips up and down the stairs of the Loft of Lost Decorations, I assembled a halfhearted display of papier mache reindeer and shabby fake boxes of presents in dusty, disintegrating Korean War-surplus wrapping. I was about to resort to the ultimate library display window cop-out--scattering themed books throughout the display simply to take up space and appear colorful . . . and, of course, promote reading--when I spotted a lonely, battered, little tree, just the right size for shoving in as a centerpiece. In the midst of this Charlie Browniest of moments, I was struck with true inspiration.
Like the looting Grinch swiping every last one of Cindy Lou Who's toys, I grabbed every sorry tree decoration feature I could find out of the attic's ample and quite decrepit supply. I was determined to make some sort of design statement at the epicenter of our library's ungodly explosion of Christmas decoration megalomania (or "mini-lomania," in the case of the tiny holiday village whose miniature inhabitants sing and play four different Christmas carols at a time in an approximation of the noise torture techniques practiced by the U.S. military blockade of Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega's compound during the 1989 American incursion).
All afternoon, in between serving our library's relentless customers, I added more swag to this tiny tree which nearly buckled under the weight of all the Christmas crap. A sparkling string of twinkling, fire-hazardous lights; a leftover two-foot length of toxically-shedding tinsel; an assortment of battered, well-worn ornaments hung with thrift store elan by twisted paper clips--I shoved everything I could find on this poor tree until it could barely stand on its own. On a final trip to the attic I found the crowning piece, a garishly flashing star nearly half the size of the tree itself that would put the perfect brand of Vegas-flavored icing on this overcooked cake.
I had almost begun to doubt my artistic instincts by the time I ventured outside to take a peek at the results. Had I gone too far? Worse, had I not gone far enough, and would my attempt at a bold statement simply get lost amid the larger backdrop of almost equally overwrought decoration throughout the rest of the building? I knew I had ultimately triumphed, however, when I was joined outside the library by our new evening page who was curious about the display. She almost physically recoiled at the sight of it and twisted her face into a lemon-biting scowl. "What eees that?" she demanded in her distinct Peruvian accent. "Don't you think you've gone way too far? That tree ees so tiny, and there's just so much . . ."
Como se dice "crap" en espanol?