Home alone the other night in my creaky old Kensington Victorian, I was walking upstairs to the bathroom. As I reached the landing, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. In my housemate’s room, a sharp-featured silhouette, lurking in the doorway. Stark cheekbones, a peaked nose, casting a shadow on the wall behind his bed: the ominous face of…Darth Vader?
Apparently, since I was home last, a heavy rubber Darth Vader mask has come to rest on his wall, watching silently over a menagerie of bizarre novelty items rounded up over the months from parties, 4 am debaucherous gatherings, and a lifestyle generally marked by a penchant for the strange and inanimate. Below, a catalogue, or highlight reel, if you will, of some of the weird shit, collected by my housemates or left behind by people like you, that has found its way into our home. One day we’re going to have a hell of a garage sale.
The Terrifying Mistletoe Dwarf, c. 2010. (Plastic, velvet ribbon, glitter. Artist Unknown.)
My housemate has a fantastic nana, best known for riding dinosaur statues, foregoing pants, and throwing 90th Birthday Jams in Vegas. When not wholesale shopping for packages of hot dogs for her grandkids, The Nana is busy harvesting charming novelty items with which to feather their respective 20-something nests. This year, she gifted my housemate with a glittering plastic bell, decorated with mistletoe, from which hangs a frightening and tiny plastic kewpie-doll wearing elf pajamas and just daring you to kiss underneath him. His pointy hat and liquid eyes haunt my living room and my dreams.
The Toypedo, c. 2010 (Plastic. Artist unknown.)
It remains a mystery to me why people still allow me to enter Dollar Stores unsupervised, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that among every truckload of tinsel, balloon noise-makers, novelty hats and streamers I walk out with nestles a real gem. Enter: The Toypedo. A disturbing pool toy whose phallic nuances are numberless, the Toypedo packaging features a black and white image of a terrified young boy holding the Toypedo near his face, with a splash of water (from poolside fun!) in the background. This is what happens when you fire people at the factory before their shift ends for the day.
The Puppy Beanie, c. 2010 (Felt, plastic. Artist unknown.)
Everybody needs a birthday crown, see? And what finer birthday crown then a light blue cap featuring the winsome face of a muppet-like dog, complete with floppy felt ears? How else are you supposed to ring in your 24th birthday, I ask you?
The Lobster Sock Puppet, c. 2010 (Sock, paper, pipe cleaners, googly eyes. Artist: This gal right here.)
I’ve been lured to a dance party lots of ways, but none has been more effective than the promise of crafts. When the Pop Lobster DJs promised to preface their usual Kensington dance party with the making of Sock Puppets, I was first in line. (This is not true. There was no line and there were already lots of people there when I arrived. But.) A beer later, I had one awesome, maniacal-looking Lobster Sock Puppet Friend, and spent the rest of the evening refusing to communicate with anyone who wouldn’t “talk to the Lobster.” Later that night, crafty (ha) mates and I hid the sock puppet under my housemate’s pillow. It resurfaced a few days later, and enjoys a place of pride atop his television. True craftsmanship is the most lasting present of all. Give the gift that says, I’MAMOTHAFUCKIN’LOBSTA!
Black Santa, c. 2002 (Plastic. Artist, some genius somewhere.)
4 foot tall light up plastic santa who appears white when unplugged, black when plugged in. Currently accessorized with novelty Alexander Keith’s foam antlers that read, in white paint doctored with Sharpie, “Happy Birthday Mr. Jesus.” Christmas doesn’t see race.
~ Haley Cullingham