My Father's Day Present




I began looking in the telephone book for a quilting therapist.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Getting you some help," I said.

"For what?" she asked, a puzzled look on her face.

"Your addiction," I said.

"I'm not addicted. I don't quilt that much," she professed. "And I'm not buying that much fabric anymore," she added.

Actually, she did quilt too much and she did buy too much fabric, but I had long before surrendered to those addictions. "Not for your quilting," I said, "and not for your stash."

"Then what?"

"The catalogs."

"What catalogs?" She knew. She was in denial.

"All of them. No normal person would have as many as you do. And I haven't mentioned your quilting magazines."

"Quilting magazines?" She was indifferent to my ranting. But I wasn't raving yet.

"Yes, quilting magazines. I saw you looking at the ads in the magazine."

"I wasn't looking at the ads seriously," she said.

"You look at every inch of every page of the catalogs seriously," I protested. And probably no ad related to quilting had ever gone unread in our house.

"Well, I need all the catalogs," she said. No hesitation.

"It's all right to read them," I said permissively, "but you don't have to order everything in them. We could end poverty around the world with the money you spend on quilting."

"You're exaggerating again. Besides, I only buy what I need, and it's only a few pennies a day."

"Indeed!" I said. I always wanted to say that and with just the right inflection. "Then, how about your last order?" I asked. "You said you needed some quilting thread, which, by the way, you could have bought here in town."

"I did need more thread for the last quilt." She was emphatic, no doubt in her voice.

"But you ordered eighty other items," I said.

"I didn't order eighty of anything. I just added a few items. Since I was getting the thread anyway, I thought I'd order a couple more things."

"A few? A couple? You had a need for ten spools of thread in odd colors I've never heard of?"

"I might quilt something and need those colors."

"Strawberry red, cherry red, apple red, pomegranate red, cranberry red and maybe even bloodshot red from reading all the catalogs?"

"They each have a subtle difference of color."

"I thought you bought all that transparent invisible nylon thread because it would match any color?" Yes, it was a question I was asking. Ten spools of Sulky polyester invisible thread. I wished the catalogs were invisible.

"I use a lot of thread," she said, as if I didn't know.

"And what about the four hundred feet of bias tape?" I asked.

"Just a couple of yards. I need a lot of stems for my flowers and a lot of lead for my stained-glass quilts." She looked at me, daring me to contradict her plans for the future.

"And the spring-needles for free embroidery?"

"I plan to try embroidery on a quilt sometime, maybe next year."

"Then explain the hair clips. What's wrong with the ones you've been using." Her hair was short and she hadn't used a hair clip in thirty years.

"They're not hair clips," she said, correcting me for my ignorance of arcane quilting definitions. "They're binding clips. Big quilts need a lot of binding, and the clips don't last forever." I knew all that. I just wanted her to explain the five hundred new clips that had come in the mail when she had promised not to make a big quilt ever again. But, then, who can trust an addict to keep a promise not to make a quilt she someday may decide she just really has to make?

"And the appliqué scissors? You already have six pairs of scissors."

"They're special. They have a pelican's beak so I don't cut through layers of fabric."

"Why don't you use the new giant sixty millimeter rotary cutter then? You said you needed that so you could cut through eight layers of fabric."

"That one is for Stack-n-Whack. The new scissors are for appliqué."

I was getting weaker, and I knew I was heading for defeat, but I persisted.

"All the marking pencils?"

"I do a lot of marking. And I need a different color for dark fabric or light fabric so the lines show. And some disappear by themselves and some wash out and some iron off. They are all tools of my trade, and stop picking on me."

"It's just that you told me when you called in the last order that you had all you needed for the next five years."

"Well, just in case. Five years can go by fast."

"Just in case you get another catalog with something new in it? Maybe next time it will be a new free-motion foot?" Oops. I should have kept my mouth closed. I had seen the ad for one in the catalog she was using when she had last ordered. I shouldn't have reminded her. She had one for the old sewing machine she had been using when she used stippling on a quilt. She had once mentioned getting one to fit her new machine.

"That's a good idea. I can get it for Father's Day," she said.

"Father's Day is already over, you're not a father, and I don't need any more feet."

"You said every day was Father's Day," she reminded me. I always thought one day was not really enough, and I had said that when I had asked her to get me breakfast in bed last Monday after Father's Day. She had laughed.

"You could get it for your birthday," I said, giving in slightly. That wasn't until December, and by then, if I burned all the catalogs, we might have some money saved up.

"Where's the catalog for that one?" she asked. It was too late to run away, I knew. "And I might see a couple of other things I need," she added before I could stop her.

"Happy Father's Day," I told myself as I found her the catalog. As she opened it, a glint appeared in her eye. It blinded me. I turned away quickly and went back to the telephone book. I wonder if the therapists are listed under quilting or under bankruptcy. Maybe I could get one for each of us.


Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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