Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Tiara Incident

Today is my mom's birthday (it's not within the scope of my authority to tell you which birthday). Marissa wanted to get her a tiara to make her feel special. For some strange reason, the task of obtaining said tiara fell to me. Not sure why. Maybe it was a test of my vocabulary.

Anyway, I thought of how to go about acquiring a jeweled headpiece in an adult size: I could make a very quick trip to London and borrow the queen's; I could contract a blacksmith and a jeweler to make one for me; I could buy a kids meal at Burger King; or I could brave the crowds at the local general store. So off to Wal-Mart I went.

I began my search in the women's clothing department. Apparently modern women wear only very plain and not-so-jeweled tiaras. If only I could travel back in time and shop at a medieval Wal-Mart! But since I can only do that in fiction or while driving a modified 1985 De Lorean faster than 88 miles per hour, I asked for help. I approached the sales clerk with "This might seem like a weird question coming from me" and then proceeded to explain in great detail that I was looking for an adult-sized tiara.

My query was met with a blank stare and then "No English." But she led me to another worker who clearly spoke English; she greeted me with a friendly "How can I help you, sir?" Ah! Someone who knows something of ancient nobility and matters of court. Surely this merchant would know the whereabouts of a crown fit for the good knight's mother! With renewed hope I asked again. And got another blank stare.

She wouldn't have known a tiara from tiramisu. I'm not making fun of her I promise. She didn't know what a tiara was. I told her "a princess crown" trying to spark some memory from her childhood but the blank stare became a quizzical leer. "" she asked in all honesty. I knew then that my quest was going to be a long one.

After I explained that it was a gift for my mother, the English-speaking clerk looked to the other who shrugged and stated matter-of-factly in the best, unbroken, accent-free English I've ever heard that "we don't carry them. Perhaps one will come in on the truck on Monday." Well, that wouldn't do.

Frustrated and not any less disillusioned about the help Wally World hires, I began my search anew. I checked Toys for a costume piece for little girls that would suffice; no luck. I checked Automotive and Hardware for something I could twist and bend into the right shape. I checked Crafts. I checked Groceries (but only because I got hungry and they had free samples). I finally gave up and called the Expert, the One Who Would Know for Certain Where a Modern-Day Princess Would Go for Headgear: my wife.

She directed me right to the Party section. Five minutes later I was in the car and on the road back home. Amazing! Simply amazing!

My treasure was wrought of the finest gold plastic and featured the image of the reigning monarch in awesome full-color glory. Ken would have been proud of his wife, bride, girlfriend, or whatever role Barbie fits into these days. I certainly was. I knew my quest had not been in vain, for I had found and acquired an object of sheer vanity. Huzzah! Victory is mine!

Or was. Marissa liked it but thought it not girly enough. She sent herself on the next quest and found an entire castle of options: Claire's. I should have known. I should have remembered my training. But alas, when you send a man to do a woman's job, all you get is a cheap knockoff and an elaborately embellished story.

But this story ends well, despite my maleness. Mom loved her tiara with pink boa feathers, sparkly jewels, and "Birthday Girl" embossed in the shiniest silver. After we gave it to her, she wore it to dinner, a movie, and the grocery store and promised to wear it again later in the week.

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