Sunday, October 24, 2010

Perdition's Bolts

I have been to Hell, and the sign at the gate reads "Joann's Fabrics - abandon all hope ye who enter here."

Traditional stories of the Depths of the Damned abound with descriptions of searing flame and unbearable heat, but here the fires have been replaced with fleece, satin, denim, silk, gingham, and a whole bunch of other kinds of fabric that I'm embarrassed to know the names of. Demons with beehive hairdos swarm around in aprons with pockets for their scissors. Babies, who were apparently very bad in life, wail in agony. Horrible renditions of songs you think you might know are piped through tin cans.

Unlike Dante's Inferno, there is only one level here. But it is a labyrinth, and every fabric-lined corridor leads into another one. As one might expect, all signs in Hell read "50% off" to distract you from leaving and give you a false sense of happiness. If you try to leave a trail of bread crumbs, the demons will inform you that they do not allow food in Hell. (That is the only part that seems to make any sense to me. I mean, it wouldn't be Hell if you could walk around with a cheeseburger.)

Posy, my guide, advised me to take up several bolts of fine-woven hellcloth, I assume to keep me from being tormented by one of Hell's employees. Meanwhile my daughter, Poppy, darted about the place with reckless abandon, fawning over every yard of fib-spun fabric adorned with puppies, peace signs, or princesses. I cautioned her on the dangers of enjoying herself too much in Hell, but my wholesome fatherly wisdom was lost in a smothering sea of adorable puppy fleece.

As little as I like to admit this, I carry a light burden of masculinity, but with each passing moment I vowed to God that I would recant my hatred for power tools and spring for the first piece of electrical equipment I could find. God didn't hear my prayer, but Hell did, and when I turned the corner I was met with a bunch of sewing machines.

No cries in Hell are met with mercy, no timeline for escape given. The only respite -- O, to call it that in such a place! -- is in Hell's catalogs. In the pages of Simplicity I found a small measure of comfort, and the walls of cloth fell away around me as pages of beautiful vixens proudly sported about in fetching outfits. But all too soon we resumed our journey, and entered back into the cute-patterned halls of Hades.

After one and one-half eternities we found ourselves at Hell's checkout counter, where we paid the ferryman 44 dollars and were granted passage back to the land of the living. With the fabric we brought back, a Halloween costume for Poppy will be fashioned in the image of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, a solemn reminder of how far from Kansas we have truly been.

No comments: