The Compound

They say if you remember the commercial but not the product it pitches, that is not a successful commercial. Shop Boy will buy that, I guess.

See, my brain remembers only one tiny bit of a TV ad from a while back that features a young father with a tot — he’s trying to get the little one to eat something. Well, the kid decides to share, popping one of the … whatevers into the mouth of Dad, who offers a gentle “Thank you.” Shown such heartfelt appreciation, the kid begins madly stuffing Dad’s mouth.

“THANK YOU!” the father laughs, gently fending off the deluge.

A sweet moment. What the heck were they selling? No clue. But Shop Boy mimics the father’s pseudo exasperation each time Mary, say, piles one extra box atop an already unwieldy or ridiculously heavy armful or decides to “help” me by restocking the pile of paper that I’m rapidly feeding into the C&P by slipping a new batch of paper from behind me via the air space under my armpit or, yes, feeding me a bagel when we’re driving without maintaining a safe chewing distance between bites.

So, a while back, Shop Boy whined in this space about Typecast Press, an outfit that creates stationery goods for a living, never having a stinking piece of paper that I could write a phone number or paper-cutting dimension or simple reminder on. Imagine my shock and delight, then, the day Shop Boy arrived at the studio to find the leftovers of a recent paper-cutting job — scraps that were, like, 2 inches by 6.5 inches — turned into a little stack of notepads, with cardboard backing.

It turns out Mary’s interns Ellen and Allison, students from the Maryland Institute College of Art, had heard tell of Shop Boy’s plight and, finding themselves between assignments from Mary, gathered up the scraps, cut correspondingly sized cardboard, clamped the piles down in the book press, applied “padding compound” and … zing went the strings of Shop Boy’s heart.

Mary: “They did that for you, you know.”

Me: “Oh my gosh. That was so nice.”

Mary (sarcastically): “Shop Boy, Shop Boy … It’s all about Shop Boy!”

Envy is such an ugly thing. ;-)

Anyway, I thanked Ellen and Allison profusely the next time I saw them, letting them know that I’d put at least one of the pads in every single location of the shop where previously I’d pitched a little fit about not having paper handy. And how I’d grabbed a few pads for my desk at work in D.C. and how I kept one in my travel satchel — OK, man purse … nyah, nyah, nyah! — for making notes and doodling on the train and how awesomely helpful the pads had already been.

Well. A couple of nights later I arrived at the shop to meet Allison, Ellen and the newest intern, Michelle (also from MICA), who had been immediately indoctrinated into the Way of the Padding Compound. Square pads! Horizontal pads! A deluge of pads!

Once the interns had gone, Shop Boy surveyed the haul, patting the piles gleefully.

Mary: “Did you see what else they left you?’

Me: “What? Something for me?”

Mary: “If someone was going to leave you something, where’s the first place you’d look for it?”

Me (looking around quizically): “Where?”

Mary: “Oh, come on. Over here.”

There on the shelf next to the big C&P, where I keep a pad to note starting points on a run (resetting the press’ counter gets your hands oily), was a square pad with an eyeletted cover sheet, a blue-green ribbon strung between the eyelets and tied in a bow and a note in the most lovely handwriting:

Dear Shop Boy,

Please enjoy this precious notepad. Eyeletted with care.

Most Sincerely,

The Typecast Fairies

I mean, what does one even say to that?

Mary (rolling her eyes): “It’s all about Shop Boy.”

Frankly, I don’t see a problem with that. Or with notepads stacked to the ceiling.


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