It may surprise you to learn that, despite my punk proclivities and the fact that, at best, I am bumbling haphazardly through life, I am gainfully employed. Against all evidence to the contrary, I Lipstick Lamarr, am the curator at a small history museum.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of my role as a museum profeshunal (standard industry spelling) is planning programs and events. One of my favorites was held over the past weekend – our annual vintage fashion show. Selecting clothes for the models, rehearsing them, and styling them for the show is one of the few times that my worlds collide in a good way, and I look forward to this event every year. As a bonus, the show is always held in a grand old late Victorian department store, with a wide staircase that just begs to be posed upon.
What I do not enjoy, however, is getting the grand old late Victorian department store ready for public consumption.
I know that sounds kind of weird. See, the thing is, the building is basically vacant and is currently for lease. It has what I guess what might be termed an absentee owner – he’s very rarely in town, and, for reasons that I can only assume weren’t at all drug or demonic possession induced, he hired the town eccentric on as caretaker. That is, if your definition of caretaker is, “stalking around in a vaguely menacing manner and using the windows to display literature advocating questionable religious beliefs and various sculptures of heads.” Very little actual care taking appeared to be taking place.
What was taking place, however, was hoarding. Three floors of hoarding. Every year meant a good three weeks of haggling, pleading, and diplomatically explaining that no, the fashion show will not be enhanced by an inexplicable blue tent sitting in the middle of the runway.
The eccentric caretaker has recently suffered a bout of ill health, and is not currently in the building. However, his hoarding is. Everywhere. The day before the fashion show, the things removed from the runway included:
A lot of inexplicable bicycles
A crate of funk records by lesser artists of the 1970s.
A Bowflex machine that had suffered partial dismemberment
A scythe, perhaps responsible for the Bowflex dismemberment
A four foot tall tractor tire, which, taken in conjunction with the bicycles, the Bowflex machine, and the records suggests an abandoned attempt to start a gym for eccentrics who like to work out to not great funk music
A Mason jar box full of Chick tracts
Several vacuum cleaners in various states of disrepair
And this potential bomb, which was found while creating a dressing area for the models
My education prepared me to do research, properly accession artifacts into a museum collection, and store documents in archival boxes. It did not train me to dispose of potential bombs.
I did what all mature adults would do in this situation: I texted my dad. This isn’t as dumb as it sounds – my dad has spent his career in law enforcement and has some expertise in the area. My dad was also the proud owner of an iPhone 5c – which, in addition to being his first smartphone, was also the first phone he’d ever owned with the capability to send and receive photos.
My dad is not great with computery things. When I was younger, we went through computer keyboards at a pretty brisk pace, because my dad would get irritated with Lotus or whatever and start typing really aggressively. Thus, he doesn’t really use a lot of the features on his smartphone. I knew that I would possibly be sending him his first photo text, and maybe even his first text ever. Which is why I ended up sending him this:
I have to hand it to my dad, though – he took his eldest daughter inquiring as to the explosive potential of weird detritus found in a hoarder’s nest completely in stride, advising me that it was probably nothing, but that I should call the police anyway.
And that’s how I wound up standing in a parking lot on a Friday night while two small town police officers determined whether or not to bring in a bomb squad. Which they didn’t do – they surmised that it sure was weird and suspicious looking, but probably wasn’t a potential threat.
*Just as a side note – Patrick, working in conjunction with Inspector Google, determined that the bomb was probably a makeshift vacuum chamber, which are sometimes used in mold making – or, as is more likely in this case, freaky disembodied head making.