05 March 2012
that creepy old man
How do you feel about string puppets? I find them entertaining but I now know that's not a universally held opinion. A couple years ago, I was on a business trip to Prague. I was looking for a cool, authentic souvenir to bring back to Félix. After casually mentioning the history of marionettes in Prague during one of our nightly phone conversations, I learned that since a young age Félix had found them to be bizarre and rather unsettling. My gaze drifted to the the hand-made, recently purchased and more expensive-than-I-care-to-admit string puppet that was sitting propped up on the hotel room chair. I quickly changed the subject.
Just before leaving the city, I picked up a small, less-shudder-inducing souvenir and proceeded to carry the delicate and super awkwardly wrapped puppet through the airport and on the bumpy flights home as carry-on luggage. Needless to say, the white-bearded wizard received a luke-warm welcome into our home. But Félix graciously helped me find a spot for the small sorcerer in our front room.
And it's pretty much every guest we've ever had over the past few years that seems to share Félix's dislike for that wizard. I've gotten questions that make me laugh just thinking about them, some gems like: Do his eyes follow you around the room or is that just me? Doesn't that wizard make Clover cry? Are you going to keep that puppet there? And my personal favorite, whoa, who's the creepy old man?
As it turns out, from a very young age Clover has found that creepy old man to be hilarious. He loves to shake the puppet's tiny porcelain hand and pretty much can't stop laughing when we make the little wizard walk around. And the great thing is that even an amateur puppeteer can make it move like it's a real human being, which is, as Félix has correctly insisted from the beginning, bizarre and unsettling, but also, as I continue to lobby, always good for a laugh.