When I was young, and Mastodons roamed the Earth, I had a cat, Snooky. Yes, that was her name – and it was a perfectly good name until a certain Jersey Shore cast member tarnished it forever. A stray, Snooky arrived on our doorstep hungry, dirty and knocked up – the last was a little bonus discovery my father made in the garage one morning before work; nothing says commuting delay like kittens in the Buick.
I think Snooky was the beginning of my love for all things damaged. Maybe damaged is too harsh, perhaps slightly imperfect is a better term. People, places and things with hard earned scars of character; a story for each dent and scratch life’s brought their way.
Take pumpkins for instance. I drive my kids nuts at the neighborhood patch every year; searching high and low for the most homely, misshapen, stumpy stemmed gourd with absolutely no hope of Halloween adoption –and BAM – it’s mine! Pumpkin Guy (I’m sure he has a name, but in 15 years I’ve never asked) looks forward to my annual visit; grinning from his perch on the front porch, he routinely greets me with some variation of, “Welcome back - I got some real ugly ones for ya’ this year.” Not the best sales pitch for the general public, but it works for me.
This lifelong obsession with the less than ideal isn’t some grand attempt to subliminally sway my boys into appreciating inner beauty, get real, they’re adolescents, I’m lucky I can convince them to wear clean underpants and refrain from armpit noises in public. All I really hope is that someday, when I’m not around to badger them into making good choices, they have the strength of character to maintain an open, accepting perspective - and are strong enough to surround themselves with the people, places and things in life that shine from within.