Wheaton’s Way

It occurred to me, as I attempted to shove a once-used pool inflatable back into its box with limited success, that I spend quite a lot of my life trying to make things fit together that don’t.

Take, for example, the above. Inflatables are a weakness of mine. If I had my druthers, I’d cover the surface of the water with so many loungers, rings and drink holders that someone with better balance than I could walk from one long end of the pool to the other without getting wet.

That being said, these toys all deteriorate pretty quickly once I’ve gained ownership, because unless you squeeze every last drop of air out of them, you will never, ever get them back into their original packaging.

Every year, whether I need to or not, I buy more Christmas stuff. Speaking of trying to fit things in small spaces, where the heck do I plan to put it all? Anyway, that seems an irrelevant question when my eyes are glazing over at the sight of new and innovative ways to turn one’s garden into a winter wonderland.

Have you ever bought a set of those twinkling lights? You know the ones I mean – icicles or net lights or 300-per-string that can be daisy-chained together so many times, you can basically make the roof of your house look like it’s on fire.

All of these come beautifully arranged in a plastic rack where each bulb has its own slot. The moment you start pulling them off said rack, you know there’s no going back. Anyone who attempts this has either got significant organisation bugaboos or they forgot to bring their iPad into quarantine.

Once Christmas is done, these bundles of lights take up three times the space and why store them anyway, because next year half of each set will inexplicably not be working and you’ve got too much life to live to spend an hour tracking down the rogue bulb on every string.

Other favourites of mine are the some-assembly-required wire sculptures that, when built correctly, result in beautifully lit festive characters like reindeer, snowmen, penguins, and Jolly Old St. Nick himself. The first problem is that the step-by-step diagrams look like 17th-generation photocopies and the instructions are by way of Google Translate. The second problem is that everything barely fits in the box even when it comes direct from the manufacturer. When people ask me why I have faded reindeer on the lawn in June, with only their legs lighting up, I tell them it’s because I can’t face taking them apart and trying to pack the pieces away. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

On another semi-related note: One Christmas, I sprang for a reindeer with an articulated neck. Around April, one of the connectors came loose, so every motor revolution had the poor creature on the brink of decapitation. It was in throes of agony for weeks until I finally took it down.

When it comes to things fitting (or not), a person’s wardrobe is a prime example. As I’ve mentioned a few times in recent columns, I’ve been losing weight. It’s still going really well.

Know what that means? At 1am, when I can’t sleep, I pull out the bin of Dream Jeans – the ones with recognisable designer names on the tags rather than JC Penney in-house brands with the word ‘woman’ stamped somewhere firmly on the label. (I don’t know why that word in department stores is code for ‘hefty’, but it be.) What are you if you can wear a size 10 or below? A girl? A twiglet?

Every person who has gone on a diet will tell you that fitting into a smaller size is a big accomplishment. Maybe that’s why I was lying back on the bed at 1:05am, trying to pull up a jeans zipper with a wire coat hanger; like a severe muffin-top counts as ‘fitting’.

I was reminded of the wonderful original film version of ‘Father of the Bride’ with Spencer Tracy, when he’s trying to save money by wearing his old cutaway to the wedding, even though it is stupid tight on him. As his wife asked, “Are you standing naturally?” I queried myself in the same manner as I stood in front of the mirror at 1:10am and saw what looked like a Hummer tyre around my waist. Perhaps a few more pounds before I would attempt GAP again.

No, things don’t always fit as they should, but that’s why they invented brilliant solutions like Spacesaver vacuum bags.

Besides, I’m no quitter. Anyone who says you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole has never seen me with a hammer.

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