On haunted yard art and how I plan to dress my chicken

Midlife Sentence: Gnome Haunting

Our kid had to self-quarantine last week after being exposed to the Scourge. We weren’t surprised. He’d gone a month employing the kind of measures one does against such an eventuality when one exists in the era of a global pandemic but also just turned 21 and by rights should be living his best life.

In other words, he was kind of taking care, but in that way of adolescent males who are pretty sure they’re immortal or invincible or at least endowed with mad ninja skills.

I think this all points back his disrespect of yard art more than carelessness. But let’s put a pin in that okay? I’ll circle around to it in a second.

We, being mostly shut-ins these days, were a little crabby at our kid for possibly bringing the Scourge upon us, given all the measures we’d heretofore taken to keep it away, but we were also empathetic. I mean, we’re all trying to figure out life in this new reality and if in the process you inadvertently expose yourself to the thing you were trying to avoid … well, sometimes it just means you get to hang out in your room 24/7, play video games, and have your mom make you scrambled eggs until your test result comes back.

His result was negative, thank God, so all’s well, but if we’ve learned anything beyond the fact that sometimes justice means nothing more than scrambled eggs, it’s that it’s probably too dangerous to have him around for much longer. We’re shipping him back to school early before future shenanigans result in another quarantine, or worse, consign him to remote learning via a school eight time zones away for a whole semester or more.

I recognize that this thing with the Scourge is not something we’re alone in worrying about, but in the back of my head there’s a notion that our particular situation has less to do with a global pandemic and more to do with my kid’s mishandling of a humble garden ornament, the yard art I mentioned before. I’ve been thinking it through, and while you may not agree, hear me out. I’m pretty sure you’ll realize my reasoning is sound.

We have recently become owners of a scruffy, plastic gnome which came with our new-to-us home, which is not nearly as scruffy. The gnome was just sitting there, minding its own gnome business, presiding over our new backyard, apparently forgotten by the former owners. It was weird to find it there, considering the yard is pretty tidy, and it seems strange people used to keeping such a yard would just go and leave their gnome.

Midlife Sentence: Gnome Haunting
Stop spying on me you little gnome bastard.

Which can only mean it was left here. As in: deliberately. Maybe the former owners weren’t moving. Maybe they were fleeing.

While we all wondered about the gnome, I was the only one to keep a respectful distance. And I specifically told my kid to not disturb the gnome. If I’ve taught him nothing else, I HOPE I’ve impressed upon him the notion this EXACT scenario is basically how your average Japanese horror movie starts: Naïve newcomers remove an ancient yet quaintly unassuming talisman from its rightful place and, BLAMO, the balance of the universe is tipped and/or some sort of ancient demonic curse awakens and then everything is a mess and random people get their faces ripped off by specters in nightgowns with straggly hair, and on and on it goes until the talisman is replaced.

And then the NEXT unsuspecting doofus moves the damn gnome.

But we haven’t seen any unexplained gauze-draped figures floating menacingly in the hallway pointing long bony fingers at anyone in particular so we may be safe. Plus, there have been no more complications of potential Scourge exposure after the week-long quarantine for my kid.

I’m not saying this house ISN’T haunted. The jury’s out on that. I’m not one to pick up on these things easily. Thankfully, we have not moved into some rambling Victorian manse in which one would expect a real gothic sort of haunting. Rather, it’s one of those contemporary style midcentury modern homes. It’s got a cool vibe, and although it’s not what we were expecting to fall in love with at all, here we are.

And here, if there be ghosts, I imagine they’re more the shadows of chain-smoking ad execs in suits than anything.

So, if we’re not haunted, nor infected, the question remains: what has our callous disrespect of kitschy yard art wrought upon our family?

Almost but not totally unrelated: there’s a place not far from here that sells yard art, and I saw a ginormous metal chicken standing in a corner recently, and decided right then and there that if we were going to own a scruffy gnome, I might want to lean into this notion of garden decor. I told my kid I wanted a chicken like that for my birthday. He suggested I just buy it for myself.

“Nobody’s going to surprise you with a ginormous, metal chicken, mom. And you’ll end up being disappointed in all of us again on your birthday like always.”

He has a good point.

Mike poopooed the notion as well. At first.

“What are you going to do with it? Put it in the front yard and dress it up for the season?”

I was actually thinking of putting it in back to keep the gnome company, but his idea of not only owning giant metal chicken but also owning a seasonal wardrobe to go with it is one to which I took a shine immediately.

I mean, if anything says “Hello, new neighbors! Don’t worry, we won’t be a bother or bring down your property values!” better than a six-foot metal chicken on the front lawn, it’s a six-foot metal chicken… in a fedora.

Can I get an amen, people?

I have some leverage here. If any member of my family (ahem, Mike) wants to cluck (yes, I said it) about my intent to display smartly adorned ferrous poultry sculptures in the front yard, I’ll posit he hasn’t a leg to stand on seeing as how he cast a sort of curse of his own on the new owners of our old house.

Long story short, he ran across the cement deer and rabbit figurines my grandma left shoved into a back corner of our shed and rather than packing them, set them under an overgrown bush in the back corner of the yard.

“They’re Easter eggs,” he said, which is Mike-speak for “harbingers of doom.” So, I guess whatever we’ve started, we’re compounding it. Sort of a terrible “Circle of Life” story involving yard ornaments that people will ponder overlong about their propensity for carrying a curse.

I don’t know what any of this means, only something big and terrible might happen or maybe not. I don’t make the rules. It’s that Chaos Theory thing with the butterfly flapping its wings and the earthquake on the other side of the world. Or something like that.

Bottom line, you should consider this a warning: we might just be waiting for the other shoe to drop as a result of our callous disregard for yard art. We could be in for even more exciting times.

Midlife Sentence: Gnome Haunting

Or maybe not.

You’re welcome, or I’m sorry. Maybe both.

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