October 15, 2011 —This story starts out with furniture. Sorry. Hopefully there’ll be a payoff. A couple of weeks ago, my parents sent us, as a gift, a five-foot-long leather storage ottoman. It was an extremely nice gesture and an extremely nice piece of furniture. However, just like all the others in my peer group, all I could think about was the large cardboard box that it came in.
If the box had arrived at any other time of year, I would have sliced it up into manageable pieces, ignored the recycling receptacle because I hate how its design forces me to live with what basically is an open pile of trash sitting in my lawn, and thrown it into a nice, lidded garbage can. But because it’s Halloween, I was darkly moved. I knew that oblong box needed to be turned into a casket.
It was a strange urge, and it wouldn’t go away. Suddenly, I understood Richard Dreyfuss’s need to sculpt shaving cream and dirt in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Kevin Bacon’s need to dig holes in his backyard in Stir of Echoes. This thing had to become a casket. It just had to.
Now, I’m not a handy person. I’m not a crafty person. My hands might as well end in bloody stumps for all their ability to do cool things with physical objects. I actually have to ask my kind paraplegic neighbor to attach my garden hose to the spigot for me. So what do you do when you have no DIY skills and yet a strong impulse to DIY a cardboard box into a casket?
Simple. You make a half-assed casket. Maybe quarter-assed. Maybe an assket. You tell me.
Nobody would be caught dead in this casket, I realize. Fortunately, active work time on this project was about 45 minutes, not counting time spent recovering from aerosol paint inhalation. And it was all in ten-minute spurts, as a majority of the process (I guess is the word) was waiting for said paint to dry. And I’m not even sure it ever fully did because I just spent ten minutes photographing it and am now pleasantly buzzed.
However, because it took so little time, I don’t feel bad that it looks horrible and will be getting thrown away soon, probably before Halloween even arrives. But it’s done. That impulse is unpulsed. I can now go back to my regularly scheduled obsessions. And I finally found a place to put that dead alien that’s been decaying in my back yard since its ship crashed into my garage. Real life is not like ALF.