The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Bricks

November 1, 2010


These days, I’m carrying around a brick. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about this brick. It is red - made of whatever it is bricks are made of. It is heavy - although not too heavy for me to lift. I need two hands to lift it though, so I often feel as if I’m cradling this brick like it’s something valuable, something irreplaceable, something I must hold carefully, or risk breaking.

This particular brick has a big, pink bow around it. It was a gift of sorts, I suppose - but why someone thought it was a good gift is slightly beyond me. I have a vague recollection of who this brick is from, although I’ve been cautioned against assuming that the name in the “from” field of the gift is indeed the giver.

People keep telling me my parents sent it to me. I have my doubts. My parents aren’t the gift giving type. I guess it’s possible mom and dad suggested the brick, maybe even pointed to how to make the brick. But in the end, Mom and Dad didn’t put it in a box, take it to the post office, and buy the postage for it - of that, I am certain.

See, thing is, this brick with the big pink bow is just the latest in a series of bricks with bows I‘ve been getting. I feel like I’ve been getting these bricks for years. They show up on my door step in non-descript boxes from mysterious senders who only have first names but no return addresses. Sometimes, they’ve come via FedEx Overnight - fast and furious, thrust upon me without even the need for my signature or acknowledgement. Other times, they’ve come stealthily through the post, ground shipping, unregistered. I can tell they’ve taken years to get to me - their boxes are battered and bruised as if they’ve been bouncing back and forth in the delivery van.

In fact, I think I have a whole collection of these bricks with bows - blue bows, yellow bows, red, sparkly bows with the words “I love you“ on them. The bows are all different, as if the giver thought that the bow could somehow disguise the content of the gift - a brick, a plain, simple old brick. It’s like on Christmas morning, opening presents with everyone watching, and you already know what’s inside the box but you want, so badly, to express surprise and delight, because you know that’s really what everyone wants from you. Oh my God! A brick! I could never have guessed! It was just what I wanted.

Except it isn’t just what I wanted. I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to be doing with these bricks. They sit around my house in piles. If I’m not careful, I trip over them going from room to room. I’ve learnt to watch out for them I suppose, but they’re still an eyesore - they certainly don’t go with the décor, and have never been part of my vision for the kind of home I want.

Every time I get one of these things, I ask around to see if anyone else has gotten a brick in the mail. Some people look at me funny - they don’t understand why I keep telling those around me about what I’m getting in the mail. After all, isn’t mail sort of personal? We don’t want to hear about your bills, your notices from the credit bureau, your love notes, or your bricks with bows around them.

Ever so often, someone will deny ever so fervently that they’ve never even heard of such a thing as a brick with a bow coming in the mail. In fact, it’s so ludicrous to even conceive of the idea of mystery brick givers that I must be making the whole story up. Or I must somehow have done something of great folly to get myself involved in some kind of brick-of-the-month club - like a twisted version of Harry and David’s Fruit-of-the-Month club, only less useful and less tasty.

Occasionally, someone will say that they’ve gotten one of these bricks with bows before. Fascinated, I ask what they do with these bricks, for I secretly hope they know of some never-before-revealed method of brick removal and disposal. They look at my face, perhaps searching to see if I am, indeed, a fellow brick receiver. Perhaps they are looking to see if I understand what it feels like to see that package sitting at the door. If I understand that sinking feeling - half knowing what is in the box, half hoping it’s merely a poorly marked shipment from that you really wanted. If I understand that confusion of getting something you have no idea what to do with. If I understand the frustration of having something that is remarkably difficult to dispose of.

Something flashes across their face that I can’t read. In a moment, a decision is made. Oh, we just stick them in the garage, they say, shrugging their shoulders, we don‘t let the bricks bother us. They don’t look me in the eye when they say this. In fact, they don’t ever really look at me afterwards.

I wonder about these bricks, sitting silently in these garages. Are they packed away neatly in containers? Are they labeled by date of arrival? What kind of container has the strength and security to hold that many bricks? Just how big are these garages? Are they overflowing with boxes upon boxes of bricks? Will there be a time the boxes become too worn, the garages become too small, and these bricks come tumbling out, burying those around them?

For now, my bricks are sitting in piles in my living room, my dining room, my kitchen, my bedroom. I find myself unable to put these into boxes, stuff them into closets, organize them efficiently, or hide them. There are just too many, and I just don’t have the fortitude. I’m not sure brick organization and storage is my strong suit anyway. I’d much rather keep searching - maybe someone in my future will know how to dispose of them. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn how to build with them.

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