Monday, June 4, 2007


I don't think they will mind me telling this story, so I'm going to let you in on a very Alyse-ish circumstance that happened to some good friends of mine, a couple who toured Europe for their honeymoon last summer. But I'm going to make up names for them in case they don't want mutual friends to know this. Humor me.
I believe that it was one sunny day in Switzerland that Megan and John were strolling the beautiful stone streets of Erlach. Megan, being much like me this way, decided that she would try to find a garden gnome to put in her new garden, as they were about to move abroad and set up a new home together. A garden gnome, being novel and cheeky in all the right ways, would make her garden stand out. You see, a garden gnome is just the right touch. Surprising in a nostalgic, kitschy sort of way, a garden gnome says that she got into the Swiss lifestyle and came back with something unexpected, in a way that a more superficial t-shirt or Swatch just can't do.
So they eagerly tripped into the garden shops, one by one, passing the rows of colorful plants, assorted planters and ornaments to find the shop assistant. Where are your garden gnomes, please?
The first shop didn't carry them. After several visits to increasingly dingy garden shops, they were pointed to a darkish little place at the end of the street, and made their way down to it as the evening shadows stretched long across the closing storefronts. When they first entered, they were surprised to see very little in the way of garden ornaments or tools; instead, they faced a wall of Iron Maiden t-shirts and a very goth-looking clerk who confirmed that they did--JOY--carry garden gnomes. He proceeded to lead Megan and John to a back room, like the rooms in the back of a head shop or a video store that the kids don't know about. The dark, windowless room was shelved, floor to ceiling, with rows of garden gnomes. Dozens or even hundreds of them staring blankly from their boxes, just sitting back there in the secret room. Though Megan thought this a little odd, she picked one out. As they were checking, she read the back of the box: "Garden gnomes are friendly creatures who bring life and prosperity to your garden. But be careful not to make them angry, or they will bring bad luck to your household!" The top of the box had two holes with the words "Don't cover the holes so I can breathe!" underneath. Megan and John laughed, though it wasn't really so much FUNNY as it was CREEPY. That night in the hotel, Megan couldn't sleep. It was the gnome. It just stared straight ahead from its box with the airholes, watching the room. It was giving her the creeps. She put it out on the balcony for the night.
The next day, they went out again, eating in cafes and skipping down the cobblestone streets together hand in hand, or whatever newlyweds in Switzerland do. That night, returning to the room, there were pieces of broken glass on the floor that they hadn't noticed before, but nothing had been broken and nothing was missing. The gnome was still on the balcony, still in its box with its airholes, still staring straight ahead from its painted eyes. But it was official now: Megan had had a bad feeling about the gnome since they got it and frankly, John couldn't blame her.
She beckoned John out into the hall. "I'm not sleeping in that room with that thing again," Megan said.
"What? What do you want to do?"
"I want to get rid of it. Let's take it back."
"We can't, they're closed. Let's take it back tomorrow." He didn't want to wait until tomorrow.
"I don't care. I'll leave it on the stoop."
And that is exactly what they did. They pretended for the gnome's sake that they were taking it for a walk, and they walked right back down to the dark goth-garden shop and left it on the front step. It was for no reason, really, if not for a constant feeling of unease that was always there when the thing was around. My sensible boyfriend would call it neurotic or paranoid. I call it a freaking good decision that I would have made myself. But I'm just funny like that sometimes.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

hahaha. that's excellent. gnomes freak me out.