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Literature

Glitter

            They say if one person in the room is using glitter in their craft project, then everyone is.  I think I can do them one better.  True story follows.

            It was my first year at Stanford in graduate school and there was going to be a Halloween party, with costumes.  I had the idea of making a paper-mâché Godzilla head but only had a vague childhood memory that starch was involved.  So, I mixed up a batch using cornstarch (instead of flour) and didn’t cook it long enough.  Needless to say, I didn’t get the right consistency of goop and the newspaper strips wouldn’t stick together as it dried — so much for all my chemistry classes!  I ended up using lots of staples and a very thick layer of green acrylic paint to hold it all together.

            Then, I needed something for the eyes and thought of Elmer’s glue and glitter.  I had only been in California a couple months, so for the only time in my life I found that I did not have these basic craft materials readily at hand.  I headed into Palo Alto on foot and ducked inside the first likely shop I came to – a drugstore.

            A big fellow at the counter puffed out his chest and said in a deep manly voice, “May I help you?”  When I asked for glitter, he visibly deflated and mumbled, “Oh.  One of the girls will help you.”  The ‘girl’ proceeded to show me their stock of glittery eye shadow.  I had to explain I really meant glitter, for a craft project.  I think the man thought he was going to sell me condoms, then came to the conclusion that I was one of the 69% of men in San Francisco that are said to be gay.  (It was years before I came to understand that joke.)

            Supplies in hand, I proceeded to give my green monster head big glittery red eyes and two rows of sharp toothpick teeth.  I dressed all in black, with green-painted latex gloves and finished it with a blue bedspread cape.

            Now, I had a reputation as being something of a wallflower back then but, in character, I would slowly march towards the women with claws outstretched while growling, “Tasty!” to their delighted squeals, so nobody could guess who it was under the mask.  They’d try to look through the mouth to see my face, but of course I would tilt my head down and look them eye-to-glittery red eye.  I had great fun.

            They told me the next day they could tell everywhere I had sat by the little piles of red glitter, flakes of green paint, and powdery cornstarch.

            I was so thrilled with my creation I mounted it on the wall of my office at school, like a trophy head.  One of my lab mates liked to shoot at it with rubber bands because it gave such a satisfying poof of cloudy white cornstarch when he hit it.

            That green Godzilla head stayed on the wall in our basement lab in the Stanford Chemistry Department for four years.

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