And don't ever give Stucco your physical address.
Everyone's seen a photographic negative. I say that, knowing full well that in a few decades children won't know that photographs used to start out on a tiny bung of celluloid and had weird, iodine-red images on them in which you could sometimes see greenish bits, all of which when ran through a certain machine would turn into gloriously coloured Kodachrome prints. To them negatives will be "nuh-uh" and "nah," not a way to make film.
Stucco, I've decided, is the sort of Evil-Kirk negative to a guy who might send you a book and maybe a little extra something nice, a little lagniappe as it were. This fellow might send you a hardbound P. D. Wodehouse book with a friendly little inscription in the flyleaf, and perhaps a bundle of some exceptional cigars he picked up while he was in the West Indes. Perhaps a note written on a sheet of ivory stationary, signed with "Your Chum" and a little flourish of an initial.
Well, Stucco is his negative.
I got A Box, you see. From Himself. It was waiting innocently at my back door yesterday, plain and brown, with a Priority sticker on the front and the carefully written legend "Sort of fragile" at the bottom left.
I knew I was doomed.
I was expecting the Wodehouse. I was pretty much expecting the whistle that he tried to send Vulgar Wizard a while back but had stolen from him by some tin-fetishist Postal employee. What I wasn't expecting was...er...the rest.
Now, I'm not certain, but what I think happened is this: he obtained a box. He secured the bottom with tape and made a pass through his kid's rooms, tossing in anything that was small enough to fit and needed to be tossed in the trash but hadn't, yet. There's a Mister Bill doll in there. VW's whistle. A piece of chalk, now broken (must have been the "sort of" in "fragile.") A small blank notebook suitable for jotting notes in. A wax candle in the shape of the number 1. Oh, and it's all covered in small white chalk marks. All of it.
Then it got weird. I think he must have run out of things from the kid's room to toss in there, so he positioned the box at the end of his desk and sort of swept his arm across it, and whatever fell inside the box got sent along also. Three flash drives (which I'm terrified to plug in, for fear I'll find midget amputee porn or something,) a home-burned DVD-R cryptically marked "THE IT CROWD." A foam nose the size of my fist which for one terrifying moment I thought was a miniature The Cone but wasn't. A huge blue specimen container. A tangled curl of ribbon that looks like it came off a gift box to a blind person. A wine bottle cork. A Bic Stik pen (black.) And in place of the ivory-paper note? A Post-It with "Irr- Enjoy! - Stucco" writ large with a Sharpie marker.
To make it a real hoot he then carefully packed the extra space with those clear plastic inflated packing balloons, so that the contents wouldn't shift much in transit. But the topper? The salt in the wound? The kick in the kidneys?
The Mardi-Gras beads.
What sort of world do we live in when a guy who lives in SEATTLE, the very seat of Yankeedom can send a guy who lives four hours north of New Orleans, the very seat of all things Dixie (cotton, humidity and drinking heavily at all hours of the day) a string of MARDI GRAS BEADS? IN A BOX!
You're supposed to THROW those to me, you jerk.