*…Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells —
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells —
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells —
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.
I spent my lunch hour at the Goodwill store today. Slowly, I meandered up and down the aisles looking for treasures.
A china deviled-egg plate caught my eye in the housewares department. My daughter Liz has a new apartment and, while she doesn’t yet cook, she is a devotee of the deviled-egg. I picked it up, then put it back down. I thought about it as I wandered and finally committed to bringing it home. Don’t tell Liz.
There were a couple of cute outfits I felt compelled to try on.
While in the dressing room, I heard a mom calling: “Justin…Justin?”. Her tone was increasingly desperate. As a mom of old, I knew that icy feeling of dread when your little bit of quicksilver is suddenly gone. Hiding? Playing? Or worse?
When I got out of the dressing room, I stood still, trying to identify the calling woman; to offer my help. I caught a glimpse of a little foot disappearing under a long rack of jeans as a voice came over the loudspeaker: “Justin; will a little boy named Justin please come to the service desk?”
Hunkering down beside the jeans I spied a dimpled hand and softly asked “Justin? Is that you? You have to come out now, honey. Mommy’s worried about you.”
An adorable 3-year-old redhead peeped, then creeped reluctantly out from under the rack of long pants which had totally hidden him from view. As I turned, my eye caught the frantic gaze of his young mother hurrying down the aisle. I smiled reassuringly, then stepped aside so she could see her grinning imp. With a brief, but heartfelt “thank you” she rushed by to snatch him up, to let the tears fall as she reassured herself he was alright, before starting in with the scolding that is always born of such worry.
There was an older man in the store while I was there. He walked up and down the aisles with the aimless shuffle of the person who is killing time. He rarely stood still, but kept moving – walking, shuffling. How, you ask, do I know he kept moving?
He carried with him his intended purchase – a set of wind chimes. The chimes rang freely.
Ring, ring, tinkle, chime.
At first I couldn’t place the sound. It took 10 minutes in the store before it pierced my consciousness. Then I couldn’t NOT hear it. It filled my head.
Clink, clank, the pealing chimes.
They chimed for 45 minutes straight, without pause; the entire time I was in the store.
Now growing louder, now growing fainter as our paths converged and parted. Underscoring my dressing room deliberations, through the drama of the missing child, serving as backdrop for the egg plate dilemma – the shuffler provided a chiming soundtrack.
Endlessly he trudged through the store; endlessly, the wind-chime Sisyphus of the Goodwill.
This post is dedicated to that unknown man, who will never know how close he came to having the merrily tinkling, winkling bells of his chimes shoved up his….nose.
*This is part of the poem “The Bells” from the brilliant, tortured mind of Edgar Allen Poe.
I think you’re being too hard on yourself. You didn’t shove those chimes up his whatever, thus demonstrating remarkable restraint. I have no doubt you play very nicely with others, at least most of the time.
I guess I get a few points for not following through on my impulse, but it was a near thing.
OK. I don’t think I’ll invite you to the bagpipe concert after all.
No, I’m busy that night with the Nails On Chalkboard Chorale.
I love it when you wax almost poetic in your posts. Don’t get me wrong – love the family weigh in hilarity as well. But these occasionals are just so well written and lovely.
Thanks Jackie! I was inspired to either do this guy an injury, or write about him.
Our neighbour has windchimes, I think that you might be able to understand how I feel when at 5am on a blustery night I’m tempted to:
a) Buy a rifle so I can use them as target practice.
b) Climb their fence so I can kidnap them and hold them for a fatally ending kidnapping.
c) Ring the police and have them arrested for torture.
Unfortunately we’re new so I’ll just stick to dreaming of shoving them some where.
I hope you won’t think me a hypocrite when I tell that I have a huge set of windchimes right outside my living room window. They were a Christmas present one year from my husband. When I opened it, my lying face squeeled”oh, how uNIQUE!” while my brain was thinking “What is wrong with this man??”
7 months later I decided to hang them, so as not to hurt his feelings. They’re absolutely gorgeous; professional quality (if there is such a thing), tuned to the key of A and cost him a fortune. I love it when the wind blows because these actually make music.
But we have no neighbors. Feel free to commit mayhem on yours, but only in your rich fantasy life.
Some windchimes can make music and sound lovely… my neighbours are big heavy metal things that clang painfully – maybe I should buy a nice set to teach them what windchimes should sound like?
Well you did two good deeds that day, find a lost boy and not shoving bells up man’s ‘nose’
You are to be congratulated for observation and forbearance in the face of adversity
Thanks. It was really, really tough to resist. One time I passed by him, I was going to shove my cart at him and say “Here – take my cart. Those chimes look real heavy.” just to shut them up. But I didn’t.
Seriously, I think you deserve a ribbon or maybe a little trophy shaped like a high-fiving hand for your winning restraint.
That would be a pretty cool trophy. Maybe I’ll make up a batch to give to random strangers – start a trend of appreciation!
Every single trip to a thrift store is an adventure. Other than the great things you can find there, that’s what keeps dragging me back.
So true – you never know what you’re going to find!
You managed to get me to tear up with empathy and then laugh out loud at the windchime thing. I’m pretty sure I’ve never quite had that emotional progression. Hope Liz likes her deviled egg plate!
Hey, i was just commenting over on your blog while you were here on mine. Kind of a cyber version of an old Marx Bros shtick where they’re going in and out of different doors to the same room.
Shhh about the plate – it’s a secret. Thank God Liz doesn’t read my blog. Nor does Gwen. Nor does my husband (small sniffle, quickly stifled).
I’ve attempted to return several lost children to their owners, and their mothers looked at me like I was trying to abduct their little sweethearts. Why would I, a white haired grandmother in the middle of a department store, try to take a screaming child home with me? Or any child, for that matter… My hair isn’t this color because I led a stress free childless life!
Perhaps you misinterpreted that look – it was really annoyance that you found the little brats and brought them back!
Most of us would have the impulse to shove those bells up his nose, but you demonstrated remarkable restraint. I’m not impressed with people who don’t have the impulse to shove those bells because I assume there is something chemically wrong with those people.
I couldn’t believe I was the only one in the shop who noticed it. Every time he walked by I looked around to see if a mass movement to mob the guy was underway. Nothing.
There is an adventure around every corner. Just think, if you had those wind chimes, you just might scare an adventure away and you’d have one less thing to write about and delight us with.
You’re a kind soul to care about easing a mom’s worry and letting the bells go. Poe knew what he was talking about–that man may regret hanging on to those bells. 😉
The thing I like about Poe, is he’s often talking about the gradual descent into madness. I can so relate to that, sometimes. This little stuff shouldn’t bother me, but it does.
You should have walked up to him and said, “you rang?” Maybe he would have gotten the hint. Good restraint though, I think there’s a law against assaulting old men (for which I am personally thankful.)
Good idea – I do a pretty good Lurch.
Thank you for making me laugh out loud! I am grateful to have found your blog. I appreciate your unique style of writing that is so relatable. It’s not very often I find I blog that I can’t help but follow. 🙂