The contents of the craft closet had disgorged themselves across the whole house and the ribbon I desperately needed for the project currently at hand had not presented itself. Fists were shaken heavenward but the gods were pitiless and cruel.
I would have to go to the craft store.
Unfortunately, craft stores and I do not mix well. In fact, ever since the notorious Photo-Box Incident of ’07, I am outright forbidden to set foot in craft stores. But I needed ribbon. The need was undeniable. If I put it off too long, the inspiration for the project would dissipate and I would be left with yet another three-quarters-completed project, nicely folded in one of many decorative photo-boxes in the craft closet, waiting for inspiration to strike again.
Taking many deep breaths to steel myself, I set forth.
Oh, I was focused. I was a champion focuser. I was there for ribbon. I would leave the store with ribbon and nothing else. “Ribbon, ribbon, ribbon,” I chanted to myself in the parking lot. We would not have another Photo-Box Incident on our hands.
“Ribbon, ribbon, ribbon,” I continued to chant to myself in the store.
“Can I help you find anything today?” a helpful woman in a blue apron asked.
“Ribbon?” I said.
“Oh, sure,” she said. “What kind of ribbon did you need?”
“Ribbon ribbon?” I said, clinging to my wavering focus.
“Well, let’s see, there’s wire ribbon, satin ribbon, curling ribbon, sequined ribbon… I’m sure if you visit each department you’ll find something that’ll work.”
Visit each department in the craft store? I wondered if, somewhere across town, my husband had sensed a disturbance in the Force. “Ribbon,” I said to her as I walked away.
“Your welcome!” she said.
I started in the floral department. Having never actively pursued floristry, I sailed elegantly through the department, gazing with cool disdain over the sprigs and sprays of dried and artificial flowers that presumably have names. They would not distract me from my goal. “Ribbon,” I continued to chant. “Ribbon, ribbon, ribb- ooh! Feathers!”
And then, my Super Ego apparently decided it was time for a break. I felt my psychic apparatus fracture into distinct and separately functioning pieces. There was Id-Tori, blissfully tossing handfuls of product she did not need into her shopping basket, and there was Ego-Tori, thinking, “What happened to focus and control? ‘Ribbon, ribbon, ribbon,’ remember?”
As Id-Tori pleasure-principled her way through half a paycheck, Ego-Tori marveled at the ingenious organization of the craft store:
For example, she mused, there is no “ribbon” section in the craft store. One finds ribbon in the floral department, the sewing department, the craft department, and the scrapbook department. The same goes for stickers, paints, feathers, and photo-boxes. These and a dozen other products besides are scattered and duplicated across the store, in every department. To find the perfect product, the shopper is forced to search the entire facility, encountering hundreds of unplanned purchases along the way.
One could argue, cleverly and well, that it makes sense for the store to be organized by hobby, whereby the scrapbookers can find all their supplies in the scrapbook section without searching the entire store, and seamstresses needn’t sully their creative energies with, say, knitting yarns. The florist need only concern herself with flowers; the artist, with paints and brushes.
One could say it may not occur to the aforementioned scrapbooker, who works primarily in paper products, that she could use ribbon in her layouts. By keeping the ribbon in the scrapbook aisle, the craft store is, in fact, selling more ribbon by planting ideas in the heads of these grossly uncreative people. “Oh, my! Look here! It never occurred to me to use ribbon in my pages before. My eyes are opened!”
Craft stores, Ego-Tori observed, are ironically the only stores where the managers are creative for you. They don’t do this sort of thing at Walmart, for example. They don’t keep the eggs in the baking aisle, no matter how logical it may seem to do so. They don’t keep the hamburger with the hamburger helper. They don’t keep the honey and whipped cream in the women’s underwear section. Shoppers are expected to make these clever connections on their own.
Id-Tori smiled and nodded through Ego-Tori’s economics lecture. With a cart full of lovely things that were not ribbon, she continued her search, visiting each aisle in each department, checking all the ribbon, finding none suitable for the project du jour. She didn’t care. She’d found scrapbook paper, stone beads, quilt fabric, and a decorative photo box. She was past the checkout lane and halfway to the car before Super Ego slunk back into the room, soliciting a “Where the hell have you been?” from Ego.
At home, I unloaded the car. No longer motivated to work on the three-quarters-completed ribbon project, I folded it nicely into the new decorative photo box and stacked it in the craft closet with the others from the notorious Photo Box Incident of ’07.
“What now?” I wondered.
“Maybe,” said the Id, “we could make something out of all this lovely new scrapbook paper.”
“Good idea,” I said.
Outnumbered and largely ignored, Ego protested, but it was no use.