I stole them from my father. I had too because they were fantastic. First, I slipped into the bedroom and looked in the dresser drawer. If not there, I opened the closet to peer at the top shelf. There they were, precisely stacked and wrapped—fresh from the dry cleaners. Dad wore white shirts daily when he managed a furniture store. But, it wasn’t the shirts that I loved—they were just the vehicle. That neat shirt pile held hidden treasures that I desperately sought after. I looked almost breathless at the new stack that had arrived from the cleaners that week in brown paper package. I was on a mission.
I positioned the desk chair in front of the closet to make me high enough to reach and removed the whole shirt stack at once. I placed it carefully on the bed, and removed the paper security sleeves (similar to those placed on the hotel toilets—the practice that I am highly suspicious of). The papers were of little use to me so I quickly breached that security and swiftly deposited them in the wastebasket. It was the precious pearl inside that I wanted. Eliminating that ridiculous paper would allow me easier access. I knew Dad wouldn’t mind—the theft was perfectly understandable given my artistic nature—it was and still is one of my two passions. My anxious eyes could see the prize at the end of the square fabric package in all its glory—the illustrious shirt cardboard! Oh, it was heavenly—smooth and silky white on one side, with greyish brown cardboard on the other; and the 8x14 size was sturdy enough and perfect for any art project that I could imagine. These cardboard gems could be a surface for a painting, or cut into pieces to add to something. They took part in Valentine’s cards and boxes. They were signs and they were backings. They were flawless. I wasted no time.
One by one, careful not to wrinkle each shirt, I slipped each out leaving the shirt on its own, flopping around without secured stiffness. But they had the security of each other in the stack and I was sure that they felt better without the rigid confinement. I was doing them a huge favor, those shirts! Back on the chair I held the pilfered floppy stack sans cardboards and paper security strips and replaced them prudently on the closet shelf and closed the door. They would be just fine waiting there for Dad. No harm, no foul.
Off I went with my fresh cardboard stack—my imagination swimming with project ideas. I would proudly show Dad my finished art and he would smile and pat me on the back, knowing that cardboard had once supported his shirts that were now floppy. Yes, the shirts had been left unprotected, but my father’s knowing-smile ensured that my ego was protected and as sturdy as my precious shirt cardboards. He knew about my passion and that I was following it—even if it culminated in petty theft.
The “protected” hotel toilet seats however are another story.