I promised to tell you this story a while ago, and since it is still Mother’s Day week, this seems like as good a time as any to tell you the tale of how my mother came to the rescue of her poor son, and the midnight dragon with the backward head.
It all started in my middle school sewing class. Yes, I took a middle school sewing class, and yes, I was terrible at it. I will never be a seamster for the same reasons I will never be a concert pianist or a professional athlete. I am completely unable to coordinate my two hands. One at a time they are great, but together they are like a whole grater missing some of its parts. Useless. Luckily this is a good thing, biblically, since Jesus specifically said “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” So I’m covered there.
But now that I am finished with America’s favorite pastime of quoting Bible verses out of context, I will tell you that at the end of the class, our big project, was to take everything we had learned and use these new skills to create a stuffed animal. Our own plush toy, birthed from our own hands, would clearly be a crowning achievement, and when we given a book of patterns to choose from, I obviously selected the dragon. I mean, most of the options were pink kitties and bunny rabbits and whatnot. It was almost as if they thought sewing was primarily for girls, and that girls only liked pink fluffy things. The whole thing was pretty offensive really, but at least they had the dragon, and I went for it.
I have to say, for someone who generally procrastinates and leaves things until the very last second, that I was true to form. It was Sunday, less than 24 hours before the project was due, and all of that ample time that had been given to me was nowhere to be seen, probably off playing in the mists of Honalee or somewhere more fun than the table that contained my mother’s sewing machine and a determined but slightly panicked middle-schooler. I worked diligently, feverishly, and terribly, stitching pieces together at the speed of adolescence, attaching a tail, some legs, and some wings, all of it done with the inside out.
You have to sew these things inside out you know, so that the seams don’t show. But this is also very disorienting to first time plushies. (That’s what you call people who make stuffed animals, right?) A weird, rough collection of unrecognizable stitches and seams will eventually be flipped outside out, stuffed with fluff, and then sewn up, with the neck being sewn up last. I got the body done, and I got the head done. All I had to do was attach them, stuff him up, and go to bed, which was good because I was up way past my bedtime.
I don’t know if it was the late hour, the disorienting landscape of fabric, or my complete and utter lack of dexterity and skill, but something went horribly wrong. At around midnight, just 8 hours before I was to be at school with this project, I put the finishing touching on my dragon, flipped him around, examined him in triumph, and saw that I had sewn his head on backward. I think, and my mother will correct me in the comments I’m sure, that this is the point at which I burst into tears and started wailing loudly to the heavens. This was also the point at which my mother swooped in and rescued me.
With amazing skill for a half-asleep woman in the middle of the night, my mother unraveled that seam, took the head off, sewed it back on again, and we stuffed that dragon full of stuffing and sealed him up permanently. It only took her about an hour, while I just sat on the sidelines sniffling. Maybe it took her less. It seemed like forever. As I said, I’m sure she will correct me. But neither of us got much sleep that night.
And it was all worth it! I oozed off to school the next morning, with my new dragon Onion Breath in tow. Onion Breath, Monkey, and Roger Rabbit went on to have many more adventures together, and so did Tenor Dad and Toy Grammy, but few have been as desperate and nerve-wracking as the night of the midnight dragon with the backward head.