Perforated Lines logo.

⚑ December 2, 2017

My First Con Man πŸ’Ό

The Christmas decorations in my first apartment, 1966.

The Christmas decorations in my first apartment, 1966.

I’ve posted these photos in the funky colors that remain from the original Kodachrome, which does have a tendency to fade. It’s not as severe a fade as the movie boxes in the video store in Venice facing the sun, but it’s bad enough. Fading is especially sad if you knew the original.

The scene here is our first apartment, my first married Christmas away from my childhood home. My own first child is already here as a law-abiding fetus, but so small as to be unknowable, except to me. We had been in the apartment for two months, and all the furniture had been donated by our parents. Husband Dave was 23; I was 19 and thought fuzzy hanging dangling pom-poms made everything look better. Sincerely.

The Christmas decorations in my first apartment, 1966.

The Christmas tree in my first apartment, 1966.

I don’t remember how the encyclopedia salesman found us, but Dave was a brand new executive at Johnson and Johnson, and I’d like to think that’s where he got our name. He reminded me of my father, long gone through the divorce portal, never to return. He was tall, friendly, and he carried a small square suitcase filled with heavy books.

How great it was to show off my decorating to a stranger, who seemed to be a really upstanding guy. He noticed the books we had and complimented me for wearing a nice skirt, which was true. It was an A-line Villager tweed in a beige and brown plaid. He said we just might qualify for a whole free set of an encyclopedia – not the emcyclopedia, of course, but still: lots and lots of books all at once, for free! For us, because we qualified. We were both so proud of ourselves, and the glow we felt as we watched the salesman go down the back stairs and out the door didn’t fade right away.

We were so happy! It was as if the outside world had validated our somewhat hasty marriage and my homemade Christmas decorations and … then it dawned on both of us at the exact same time: It was a con! That warm glowy feeling of joy at winning a lottery was as faux as a cardboard brick fireplace, which I didn’t have as a decoration, by the way. Instead, I cut big red and green flower shapes out of felt. It was the sixties and that’s what we did.

So after a bit we decided to actually read the contract we were so eager to sign. We would be paying each month for a really expensive Year Book, which we came to resent more and more as the years in our contract wound down. It was the World Book Encyclopedia, by the way, should you ever hear a knock at your door. πŸ”