This morning at 3:10 A.M. I was awoken by the sound of my son singing/groaning, and I quickly realized that he was performing a startlingly faithful rendition of the repeating vocal sample used in the classic Arrested Development song “Mr. Wendal.” I went in and there he was, happily sitting up in his crib awake, continuing his homage to that great philosopher-hobo. It sounded exactly like this:
In our family, we also make it a practice to slightly modify the lyrics of “Mr. Wendal” to refer to one of Virginia’s heroes, Sister Wendy. Perhaps this is how the young lad has developed such a love for the song.
If an ice cream truck rolls up a residential street on a quiet Saturday Afternoon and no children run out to buy ice cream, it does still make a sound. And that sound is by turns nostalgic, melancholy, excruciatingly slow, and ultimately quite creepy. And now it’s stuck in my head.
Leave our kids alone, we’ve got all the ice cream we need around here.
On Tuesday I happened upon this tweet declaring a new “mission” from one Amy Krouse Rosenthal, via her blog Mission Amy KR. Her mission was simple: she commisioned “agents” at twenty locations throughout the country to hide copies of her picture book Little Pea under random mattresses in random furniture stores; a play on the whole Princess and the Pea fairy tale. She posted the following youtube video, which gave clues as to the locations of the hidden little peas:
I actually sat and watched through all five minutes of this video, which was strange behavior for me. Perhaps I could sense that destiny had called me on this day. Or perhaps I just like it when people do goofy things like this in stores and public places. I was just a little curious to see if there was going to be one planted somewhere in Utah. Whatever the reason that held my attention for the duration, my hope beyond hope was confirmed as I watched some lady on the video place a copy of this book under a mattress of a “rustic mountain home” bed display in the R.C. Willey furniture store only a couple of miles from my house. I knew not only where this store was located, but, having visited it once a couple of years ago, I even had a general idea of where this type of furniture was located within the store, unless they had changed everything around. Further, I was on vacation from work for the day, and would be willingly aided and accompanied by a picture book-loving wife and little Lord Fitz himself, who would be our go-to man to find the book. And as a final motivation, I myself am currently on a professional and personal quest to explore the world of children’s picture books and discover new titles; what better way to enact my quest than by rummaging through the bed displays of a furniture store as a prank to get a free book? And so it was decided that we would assay that very afternoon to retrieve the Little Pea.
Before I proceed with the recounting of our adventures, there is something you should know about the nature of my relationship with R.C. Willey stores: they frighten and irritate me to no end. Each R.C. Willey location, in addition to being filled with furniture of varying stylishness, is also crawling with salespersons on commission. They will follow you around, and if you tell one to bug off it does no good, because no sooner will he or she leave you alone than another salesperson will find you un-chaperoned and start tailing you. If you are in any way paranoid or unsocial it is not a good place for you. So, I was glad to have my two cohorts with me on the trek.
We arrived at the store parking lot, strapped the lad into his stroller, and entered. There were people all about, which seemed encouraging for our Tuesday afternoon quest, until I realized that virtually all of them were employees. There must have been a 3-to-1 salesperson-to-customer ratio, which meant that we had no chance of being inconspicuous, and also that the salespeople would be extra hungry for business. We proceeded into the store with caution, browsed some furniture, and then made our way to the goal area. I had remembered the mountain cabin type furniture, such as was shown in the video, being in a strange basement showroom of the store. I was unsure whether this would give us more privacy to search for the book, or would leave us to be cornered by a salesperson as the only shoppers in the area.
I made one great error in preparing for our quest for the little pea: I failed to a get a screenshot of the placement of the book. I had remembered it was a rustic looking bed with a TV next to it, and I thought that would be good enough to find it. As it turns out, I was both right and wrong. As we reached the area, I quickly found a bed that matched my memory, with a TV next to it playing at that very moment a ridiculous scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in which a bunch of guys are shot and fall down a hillside in slow motion. Really put me in the mood to buy some rustic furniture right then. I pulled up the mattress from the foot of the bed on both sides, but found nothing. We then wandered around the area for a while, but could not find another bed that matched what we had seen in the video. I wondered if they had already re-arranged their showroom since the book had been hidden. I hoped they hadn’t put it on display on a nightstand in the children’s section or something, thus making our retrieval of the book appear as stealing.
During this time, a salesperson approached us, offering to help us find something, and to my horror my wife straightly told her we were looking for a book that was hidden under a mattress in the store, according to a video that we had seen at a website. Our subtlety gone, now the vast and mysterious mechanizations of the R.C. Willey superstore would be set into motion to thwart us. The salesperson told us that the floor designers would surely have found anything like what we were looking for, and we should check with Customer Service to see if they had our lost book. She then quickly went away, I assumed to inform security that strange persons were in the basement trying to mess up and steal display items. I’m the paranoid one in the family, if you haven’t noticed.
We then came up with the wise idea to try to pull the video up on our phone, but the reception down in the basement was too poor. We went upstairs, I found an obscure couch to sit on where I could attempt to search for and load the video on my phone, and my wife checked with Customer Service and continued to talk to salespeople, who all seemed to be somewhat confused and nervous by what she was asking them. Ten minutes later, after being solicited for sales assistance by three different individuals, I finally had the video cued up and paused on the shot of the bed under which the book had been placed. We showed it to the salesperson, the first one who had helped us. To her credit, she immediately recognized the bed and knew exactly where it was. She led us back downstairs and directly to the very first bed I had checked, with Butch and Sundance playing next to it. My wife pulled up the mattress, and there was the book, in a plastic bag, at the very head of the bed. I had not checked thoroughly enough. Roosevelt Fitzwallace himself pulled the book out (see photo above). We found the note inside the book and showed it to the salesperson, and she, although still somewhat confused, let us take it.
So, the pea was not found by a princess or a prince, but it was found by a little lord, certainly on his way to greatness.
As we made our way to exit of the store, we ran back into other employees that my wife had talked with. She informed them that we had found the book, and tried to relieve them. Apparently they had commenced searching the R.C. Willey website and called the corporate offices to try to find out about this secret book giveaway promotion that they hadn’t known about. Tomorrow they had a “Walk-Through” scheduled, and they were extremely concerned about mobs of people coming in and tearing apart their displays looking for hidden stuff. We tried to comfort them, saying that we were probably the only people who would come in looking for the book.
So, thank you, Mission Amy KR!!! Lord Fitz has deigned to lend me his copy of Little Pea, and so it shall be added to the collection of books I need to read and review for my massive picture book project:
*It should perhaps again be mentioned that, for the purposes of this web site, the boy’s name is Roosevelt FitzWallace, a.k.a. Fitz, Fitzy, or Little Lord Fitz. The original goal was also to avoid the accurate rendering of his facial image at all costs, but once again I have failed in that obfuscation. I could not bear to put a black box over his eyes; he is just too cute.
By both popular and regal demand, I have returned this picture to its proper station and title, using the term “fancypants” rather than the vilely vernacular “Bossin’.” I have also exalted this posting with a more auspicious date, it now being placed on the day on which is memorialized the insurrection of the American colonies, whose patriotic colors the plaid of the lordly pantaloons so represent.
P.S. I really wanted to spell “Fancypantz” with a “Z.” There, I did it. Fancypantz Fitz.
Brian Kershisnik (American, 1962-). Young Astronomer, 2009. Oil on canvas, 66 x 84 in.
Here’s a painting that pretty much depicts where my mind is at right now. I saw this painting a year or two ago at one of Kershisnik’s shows at Dave Ericson Fine Art, an art gallery in an old house in downtown Salt Lake City. I’ve been to these shows two or three times, and every time there seems to be one or two impressively large paintings that serve as the centerpiece of the show. This was one of those paintings, and it has entered my imagination and been amongst my most favorite pieces ever since. I assume someone purchased this painting at the show; at any rate I have no idea where it now resides. Maybe this should go without saying, as it is true of most art, but this small digital image does little justice to the almost mural-sized original oil painting. I should also mention that the last time I wrote about Brian Kershisnik on this website a few years ago it led to me meeting my wife, so his art is pretty special to our family.
You can see much more of Brian Kershisnik’s art and learn more about him at his website.