My mother is the queen of random. At Christmas, birthdays, and sometimes for no reason at all, a box will arrive. Some of the things I've received include tourism guides to Sioux Falls, SD (my home town), ten year old issues of Cat Fancier magazine, my Cub Scout relics and First Communion certificate and paraphernalia, mildewed books by forgotten authors, and this lamp, sans shade. For some reason I'd prefer not to think too hard about, my mother looked at this lamp one day and said to herself, without irony, "I think Tim would want this." I tried to leave it behind at my ex-wife's. but it didn't work. She delivered it to my new apartment. My prized little hobo boy lamp.
In an insane moment, I thought this might be one of those Antique Roadshow kind of things, where the hideous bad art that's been sitting in Aunt Mildred's attic is appraised at $450,000. I looked around online, and there was little evidence that anything of value had ever been produced by Don Ward Industries. Similar cultural abominations were going on Ebay for about $3.
And so, I am left to contemplate the mystery of the lamp. Who is this cheeky hobo boy with the battered hat? Why is he following me? What horrible nuclear accident is responsible for his deformed dog? What, other than flight, would be a suitable response to being confronted in person by this freakish little gnome with the yellow flowers. Why are his legs crossed like that? Does he need to pee? If I gave this lamp to Goodwill, would some art school stoner make a bong out of him? Can God exist in a universe where this sort of thing happens? I can't bring myself to throw him away, but I'm working on it.