I was fired up and ready to go — to borrow President Barack Obama’s mantra and a small sample of the substantial speechmaking skills that served him, and us, so well — to assume a “Peaky Blinders” persona.
Kate would tell you I’m a shape-shifter with as much backbone as water. Knowing her, she probably also would say that I’m like 45 in one respect — remembering only what I heard from the last person in the room where it happened.
Usually, though, she just insists that shiny things distract me, and a quick trip to Kwik Trip for loss-leader eggs takes me an hour — and I forget the eggs but bring home 38-cents-a-pound bananas and an egg salad sandwich.
It’s hard to dispute the fact that my life can be divided into phases of shiny things:
- There was the frog phrase, when I considered colorful tree frogs so beguiling after a family of them took over my birdhouse that I stockpiled photos, figurines and posters of frogs — and T-shirts, a whole drawer full.
- Then there was the scorpion phase, when I gathered symbols, pictures and clothing — even a pair of cowboy boots — festooned with scorpions. That predatory arachnids phase sprang from a private pique that I probably shouldn’t go into, with its connection to a dysfunctional stepmother, so I won’t.
- Then there were the phases when I focused on horses and/or dogs, both of which daughter Allison regards as more important than human beings. I managed to resist her hints — pleas, actually — to buy her a Friesian, which is her favorite breed of horse.
It wasn’t just that a decent Friesian can cost anywhere from $4,000 to more than six figures. It was that I couldn’t even afford a hobby horse. Still can’t — even with the princely sum of $8.50 a week added to my paycheck under 45’s biggest tax cut ever — in the history of the whole dad-gum universe.
I got her so many horse and dog T-shirts that she finally warned that she would disown me if I even thought about buying one more.
- Then came the elephants, which I can’t forget — in no small part because of their reputation for never forgetting.
Allison has traveled to Thailand the past two years to volunteer at an elephant rescue center. Thank gawd she doesn’t want her own elephant, because prices start at around $22,000 and the red tape would gag a tapeworm.
Plus, I suspect St. Paul doesn’t allow elephants in backyards. In addition, her yard would cramp an elephant’s style, especially since that’s Rodeo’s turf anyway and he would run circles around a Dumbo.
I hadn’t even thought up any elephant-themed gifts when Kate played against type and became an enabler. She suggested commissioning a local artist to produce an impressive piece of wall art featuring three elephants for Allison’s Christmas present in 2016. Allison loved it, although she still hasn’t had it framed, so I guess that will be up to us. (Something simple — no elephant caravans around the frame border distracting from the art.)
During the summer, I got a heckuva deal on a little elephant figurine that I figured would be perfect for Allison’s station where she is a hair stylist in La Crosse. Seconds later, on the same (Wayfair) web site, I found an even better figurine of two adult elephants pulling a baby one away from danger. It was so on-point about Allison’s elephant rescue efforts that it was a no-brainer for a gift.
Toward Christmas, when Kate asked for ideas on what to get Allison, I bragged, “I’ve already got hers.”
Kate was appalled when I told her about my elephantine buys — not that I actually had done some Christmas shopping months in advance but rather, for going overboard on a theme. Again.
I started to argue, but she reminded me that Allison had spurned the drum-playing elephant and bass-playing horse figurines I had bought for her birthday.
“Allison is going to hate these,” Kate said, adding, “I’m going to get her something just from me.”
For the record, Allison loved the figurines, although I got the impression that I should halt the baby elephant walk now. She’s out of shelf space and, well, I guess I was in one of my shiny-thing ruts.
I mention these examples in part to introduce my newest shiny thing: the Netflix series “Peaky Blinders.”
If you haven’t watched, you should, although I confess that there is a bit of nudity and quite a bit of violence. As for me, to maintain the halo nuns routinely see over my head, I just avert my eyes whenever I sense the next scene might be a skin show.
The series has me lusting to be in the Shelby family, wreaking havoc in Birmingham, England, in the 1920s. I just got my “Peaky Blinders” trademark haircut — close-cropped on the sides and mop-topped — the other day.
But it will please Kate to know that I probably won’t get one of the gang’s trademark newsboy caps (unless she wants to get me one for, say, my 70th birthday, or maybe a deep-pocketed reader could gift me one — perhaps the rude commenter who called me a blathering idiot).
The “Blinders” in the title is based on the razor blades the gypsy lads have sewn into the bills of their caps. During fights, they wield the caps like weapons, sometimes slashing foreheads so the victims’ gushing blood blinds them, and other times, just gouging out eyes.
Actually, the real Peaky Blinders were a youth gang from the previous century, and indications are that they didn’t actually have razor blades in their caps. It’s a nice fictional addition to the story line, though.
Truth be told, this probably is as close as I have come to actually trying to morph into someone else in my lifelong endeavor to be so cool the chicks would drool.
I realize that, even with my “Blinders” haircut, I’ll never be as cool as Cillian Murphy, who plays the Godfather-like character of Tommy Shelby. I would look out of place wearing a duster like they do, because I can’t walk in slow motion like their characters do, with their coattails flowing behind them, adding to their mystique.
I can’t be anything but like Mike, so I’ll quit chasing waterfalls and other shiny things. As the series’ common command indicates, I’d be booted out of the family by order of the “Peaky Fookin’ Blinders.”