This Wednesday sees me toddle past a little milestone. This is the 200th post I’ve posted here at The Paradoxes of Mr Pond.
No, I’m not retiring. Though I may, if unduly provoked, eat a small cupcake quietly by myself.
I have decided arbitrarily that today’s post will be about buttons.
I can never, never find them. I need them constantly. They click if you click them together, and rattle with malevolent glee—and this is a very literal description, by no means the pathetic fallacy—when you spill them on a tiled floor. They are occasionally good with cheese.
Pair with something you’ve forgotten.
Perhaps, in some dark fathom of my mind, I thought I should post about buttons because buttons were important to me while growing up. I still remember—still, if I let myself, feel the rush of pride and accomplishment—the first time I could button my shirt by myself. I was four or five. There was a song on Sesame Street about being five-and-a-half, and one of the joys of being five-and-a-half, according to this song, was being able to ‘button my shirt by myself.’ And when I could, I knew—I was very grown up indeed.
I remember that every time I button my shirt.
These are the things childhood is made of—buttons and pins and stories and song and genuine monsters in the dark, of soup made from moss and cigarette butts but knowing enough not to eat it, of haphazard things and oddities hidden in a box beneath the bed, where none of it matters, not really. But all these years later it gives you that jump, that glimmer of joy, of secrecy, of wonder, to hold the smooth river stones in your hand and remember finding two of them in one day, to pick up the costume jewellery you found broken in the park and it might have been the Jewels of Helen of Troy for all it mattered then, and all it matters now, and it is, because when you read of her, it’s this that she’s wearing.
And though you’ve forgotten you ever kept it, when you see it again you know—each and every, all and any—you know the shape and feel and the name of every button in your button collection you thought you had, and you know again now that because it was important then, in some way it’s far, far more important now.
These are the things growing up is made of.
Except now we collect words and blog posts, emails and essays and phone calls, resumes and books and cat hairs, and we watch, perhaps, a child—perhaps our own, perhaps another—solemnly put a button in her mouth because she’s too little to have a box except to empty—not yet—and we remember for a moment what we’d thought we’d forgotten. How a button can hold all the wonder in the world.
So we save the button to put in her box one day.
Today also sees my appointment to a chair at The Hogwarts Professor, where we are preparing to celebrate the Julian New Year by urging you all to read the Oxford English Dictionary. Yes, it will be as awesome as it sounds!
This (entirely un-earned) professorship shall be framed on the virtual wall of my imagination alongside the no less prized honour of continuing to serve on the Blogengamot at The Hog’s Head. I have articles forthcoming at both sites, so visit both places often and regularly (as if you don’t already).
There are continuing to be more places where you can find me and my writings on the Webmagraph, but if you’re trying to find me quickly, start with these three sites.
Or try pressing a button.
It might even work.*
*Although, trust me—I’d make a really lousy Fairy Godfather. Unless you need help with commas.