The Midas Touch



In classical mythology, King Midas was granted one wish by the god Dionysus (the god of wine, also known as the Greek god Bacchus). Extremely greedy for all the wealth that could be had, Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. He got his wish and soon regretted it. When he tried to eat, his food became gold. When he hugged his daughter, she turned into a golden statue. Midas was only saved when Dionysus instructed him to bathe in the River Pactolus to wash his now cursed touch of gold away. Anyone who easily becomes rich is said to have the "Midas Touch," as in the expression, "Everything he touches turns to gold." Ah, that there were such a phrase for quilters.


It was a morning like any other morning. She was already at work in her sewing room cutting up yards of different colored Kona cotton for her new project, a Sunbonnet Sue quilt using Amish-like solid colors throughout. I passed the doorway, peeked in to see a mile-high pile of batting squares she had cut to make this new quilt a new way. She was following the instructions in her Eleanor Burns book to quilt each square before joining them all together in the final quilt. She seemed happy and content and barely noticed as I passed and said, "Hi."

"I already ate," she said, as no doubt she already had. Though during the week she would have already been up at four and gone to the gym and back, on the weekends she took a break from that "work" and used her additional time to work on her quilting.

"Your new fabric might come today," I said, for she had been worried for days that her order for much-needed fabric would be lost in the mail. She worried about things like that, so it was no wonder that the first thing we talked about that morning--or any morning--was her quilting.

She didn't answer, so I went in to the kitchen for breakfast. I went to the cupboard for tea, looked for the box of green tea, and found it next to a small pile of fabric. Fabric? I looked again. In place of her tea next to mine was a small pile of two-inch square pieces of reproduction style fabric. She must have gone for tea and forgetfully have put the pile of tiny squares there by mistake. At our age we both did odd things like that. I recently had gone to replace a roll of toilet paper and while doing that had decided to get a glass of milk. After putting back the milk, I went to replace the toilet paper in the bathroom only to find the milk carton I still held wouldn't fit the holder. DW was surprised to find a roll of toilet paper in the refrigerator.

I closed the cupboard and went to make my tea. I would tell her about the fabric later. She would laugh about it. I put my tea on the table and went to the refrigerator to get some cream cheese. The cream cheese was there on the top shelf, but so were several piles of six-inch squares of Bali batik fabric. I immediately began to worry, but then I relaxed and laughed. This new project of hers had been on her mind for days, the intensity of her concern greater than I had seen on her last few projects. She feared quilting individual blocks and ever assembling them correctly into a quilt. She was under stress. That's all. Ho, ho.

Or so I thought. When I went to get a bagel to toast, there was a bulging pile of fat quarters inside the bag with the bagels. Benartex fossil fern fabric. "Hmmmm, that's strange," I said aloud. But I was hungry and took out a bagel, wiped off a few stray threads, and went to put it into the toaster oven. There was no toaster oven. In it's place was a small mountain of Kaffe Fassett fabric.

I began to feel stirrings of panic churn up the inside of my stomach. I looked around. In place of the kitchen table were several bolts of Hoffman Essentials. I spun around. The door to the patio was gone and draped in its place was a red, white and black checked fabric from KP Kids.

The mini-blinds on the window were striped strips of fabric. The kitchen counter was layered with cotton gingham. The sink faucet was a rolled up fat-eighth of Thimbleberries blossoms. "Honey," I yelled toward the back of the house. I ran behind my voice to her sewing room. She still stood at her cutting board cutting out feet for each Sue and Sam appliqué. Only now the scissors she held had become a novelty print of a child's pair of scissors.

"What's going on here?" I said, gulping my words as I began hyperventilating.

"Isn't it great," she said, beaming her smile at me, her face delirious with pleasure.

"Everything's fabric," I said.

"Everything I touched," she said proudly.

"You touched a bagel and the toaster oven and the patio door."

"Did they finally change, too?" she asked. "I thought it would happen right away, but some of the things take longer to change, I guess."

"You guess? What do you guess?" I asked as I looked at the soft flannel turtle fabric in place of her iron on a paisley print fabric in place of her ironing board.

"I guess my wish came true," she said.

"Your wish?" Had she wished for the television set in the corner of the sewing room to become a Kent Avery starburst of color fabric?

"I was talking to the fabric goddess, and we were discussing how many different kinds of fabric are manufactured today-"

I interrupted, perhaps a bit too loudly, "Fabric goddess?"

"Hush," she said in a hush. "I'll explain."

"I don't think even you can explain this," I said.

"You don't believe there's a fabric goddess?" she asked, but she didn't need my answer. "There is, and quilters all know her, and sometimes when we really need some more fabric, we talk to her about it. This time I asked her for some advice, and she said she could arrange it so that anything I touched became fabric."

"And she granted your wish?" I gave no thought to the possibility that what she was saying was true or even made sense.

"Only for a little while. She said it might be dangerous if everything I touched became fabric."

"Oh, so there was a limited warranty on your finger?" I didn't believe any of it now.

"I have five more minutes, so I have to get busy."

"I think you need help," I said, and I went to reach for her, to bring her back to her senses, but she moved back away from me. I moved forward to embrace her.

"Don't touch me," she said. "If you touch me you might become a bolt of Debbie Mumm star fabric." But it was too late.

Moral: Be careful what you wish for, or you might find out you get more than you bargained for. And don't ask how a brand new bolt of Debbie Mumm fabric could tell this story. After all, it is just a fable.

Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver

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