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Mass Casualty Event On Our Front Lawn

Posted December 14th, 2020 at 03:13 PM by Sylvano the Wasabus

Of the forty-two in front of the house, thirty-six had been cut in half. Cleanly bisected at the waist. Yet there was no sign of a weapon, no vandalism or anything else to suggest an attacker.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’ll want to know why there were forty-two gingerbread people on the front lawn. Let me tell you that these were not little gingerbread cookie people. The big ones were four foot high, most were three and there were a pair of two feet gingerbread kids.

I think I should back up even further. My partner likes to decorate things. She has a permanent display cabinet in the living room that she changes a dozen times a year; different themes for different dates. I kind of ignore it. She enjoys it and that’s reason enough to have it.

We live in a small town and this year the town sponsored an Xmas light contest. My partner was interested and I was when I heard that the prize was $1750. Turns out, it’s three prizes, of 100, 500 and 250 and it’s in Downtown BIA bucks, which three quarters of the town’s business accept. A $1000 first prize was still worth it, I thought, so I started thinking.

I do my best thinking when I’m not thinking. I woke up in the middle of the night, convinced that gingerbread people were the way to go. You see we had this huge pile of one inch thick cardboard in the garage. It had been used for various things through the years and now we were going to recycle it. It was the perfect size for gingerbread people and we had enough to make a crowd.

My partner wasn’t convinced.
“It’s supposed to be an Xmas light contest, on how you decorate your house,” she said.
“Some people put out Santa and the Grinch and the nativity? Why not gingerbread people?” I suggested.

We made a prototype and she liked it so I got out the power tools and cut forty or so more, at double thickness. My partner was a little intimated by the number of the gingerbread people, but I’m all for doing things fully. It didn’t matter if I cut too many, right? We were just going to recycle the cardboard anyway.

The next struggle was about layout. She was all for decoration. Frankly, decoration bores me. How do you decorate a house with gingerbread people? Careful spacing? I wanted narrative.

“We have enough for stories,” I said. “There can be groupings involved in activities which individually are stories.” I suppose I won because nobody else really had a better idea.

We did an entire day of painting. I’m an experienced mini painter so I insisted on acrylic. They wanted to use bingo dabbers because they thought it was easier. We put one dabbed guy out in the rain and his colours faded and ran.

“This is for $1000!” I reminded everyone.

We had an old Cinderella’s carriage under the deck, don’t ask why. I took the wheels off and it looked like a sleigh. I cut stakes to glue to the backs of the gingerbread people, so we could stick them in the ground. We needed gingerbread people reindeer then and I glued sticks to their heads as well. If you’re working with cardboard, carpenters glue is amazing.

The deadline for the contest loomed. My partner is much more calm than I am, and her gluing was even and held. My great glops of glue didn’t dry fast enough and sometimes let go when I was hammering the stakes in.

The day before the contest we tried to buy lights. All of the stores were out. Bare shelves. Apparently the pandemic made people want to buy Xmas lights. We had to borrow, beg and improvise and use an unsafe amount of extension cords, but the lights and gingerbread people were up and ready for the contest open.

The judging was supposed to be over three days. The guy four houses down was in the contest too. He dressed in a Santa suit and stood in his yard among the lights waving and ringing bells. I’ve always hated him. How dare he try to steal our first prize.

We drove around the town. There were lots of entries, all lights and random inflatables. Nothing could touch our display. Cars slowed and stopped for five, ten minutes. Even in the daytime without the lights.

For the three days of judging we had good weather. Then on the weekend, rain was predicted. We were worried about how the gingerbread people would take the rain. It’s pretty stiff cardboard, so I wasn’t that worried. My partner insisted we get clear plastic garbage bags to cover them.

Surprise, surprise she shakes me awake in the middle of the night and then starts hitting me.

“Rain!” she hisses at me. “It’s raining!”

Yup. Surprise rain at four in the morning. We’re outside in the dark in our pajamas putting clear plastic garbage bags on cardboard gingerbread people. It’s freezing. The plastic bags only cover the top half the figures. Somehow, it becomes funny and we end up laughing.

In the morning when we look out we see the grim truth. The plastic bags had funnelled all the water off the top of the gingerbread people to their waists. Their waists, sodden, bend and tear away cleanly. Thirty six gingerbread people are bisected at the waist, like a chainsaw maniac has run amok in our front yard. There’s no repairing them. The winner of the contest will be announced in two days. We made it through the judging, but now our yard is a mess. We clean it up and it’s empty. Do you think we’ll still win the contest?
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