Friday, January 14, 2011

the joy of packaging

My sister Caroline likes to preface the Christmas season with a warning against greed by saying, "We're all on a budget, so it's no good asking for a pony." Every year I ask for a pony. This is how families operate.

This year she finally came through, and my delight with this object knows almost no bounds. This is, according to the package, an official "Grow Your Own," the "sixteenth in a series."

The instructions on the back (in what looks like four-point Franklin Gothic) say that the pony will reach full size (600 percent!) if you put it in some room-temperature water and leave it there for three days.

Three days is a long time for a toy to become fully operational, and the instructions also concede that when you take the pony out of the water, "it will slowly shrink back to its original size."

But this is not a problem--it's a feature: "Your grow item can be grown again and again!!" I relish the weird sexual subtext and the sheepish guilt implicit in those two exclamation points. Bang! Bang! I have a longwinded screed about the misuse of this blob of punctuation, but we won't go there. Not today.

Still, it's partly true, as the package says in on the front, that "Your new pony is the best pet in the world. He is very easy to care for and will love you very much." The love part is silly, but he's certainly easy for me to care for, since I never intend to take him out of the bubble pack. My only challenge is figuring out where display him until regifting; my sister will appreciate her own joke just as much when it returns to haunt her.

But wait--why is the pony a "he"? Is another one of the sixteen in a series a mare or a filly, or is the Chinese manufacturer restricted to a production line of geldings? That sounds like something I didn't mean, but this creature is definitely not a stallion. No stud worth his salt would consent to living inside a drinking glass for three days.

Other features explained on the package include, "This pony can live in your house," "Grooming is unnecessary," and, somewhat redundantly, "Your growing pony never needs to be fed, only watered." 

Sometimes if you jumble up a platitude it comes out true--small things can come in good packages.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, yes, Christmas. Can't be avoided. I know because I've tried, but every year friends track me down and bring me in for Christmas Eve dinner and such. This year, that included a few rounds of Canasta, a game I haven't played since I was twenty.

    It was fun, actually. I have nothing against Christmas, per se, and I do enjoy good company. I like some of the music that drifts like wispy snow from unexpected directions. I heard and innovative arrangement of Faure's Pavanne this year while dining at one of Knoxville's better restaurants. It went nicely with the Chilean Carménère I was sipping.

    Christmas. I may try to avoid it. But not very hard.