Hook for a Holiday
Ratchet’s Dream Diary — February 27, 2007
Upon arriving at my parents’ home for Christmas, I walk into the sun porch to find my mother decorating for the holidays. She is hanging a green garland around the windows; she looks back over her shoulder to say hello.
There is a bench to my left, where she has placed an array of white, textured, life-sized plaster models of people who are dead. They are all dressed in festive clothing, and cast in playful positions. A frozen woman leans back laughing, one hand pushing the shoulder of a plaster man wearing a red sweater with a snowflake design embroidered in white. His tongue is hanging out of his open mouth…hysterical with laughter or hysterical with fear…it’s impossible to tell the difference. A final scream before an untimely death?
To the right of this hellish Old Navy commercial, my mother is struggling with another of these decorations. Not a plaster cast—this one is an actual preserved corpse. The thing that may have, at one point, been a middle aged man is clad in jeans and a winter jacket, rather than Christmas-wear, so perhaps it is one of my mother’s more recent finds. She has both hands around its waist, and is trying to hoist it up onto a hook in the wall where it is supposed to hang from a hole in the back of its head.
The corpse will not cooperate. When she gets it attached to the wall, its glasses fall down its nose. When she tries to get the glasses situated properly, the head lolls back and the whole body slides down the wall.
My mother, exasperated, yells at me to help her. I stand stupid for a moment. Finally, I blink and position myself on the other side of the corpse, arms around its waist, trying in vain to get it to hang properly. It is no use—its dead weight is too heavy for the hook. It simply will not stay.