Over Before It Began
This past weekend, my wife and I were able to both begin and end the holiday season in the span of four hours. We accomplished this by dragging our two children into the 8th circle of hell, otherwise known as Jordan’s furniture, specifically its Enchanted Village exhibit. For those who may not know Jordon’s furniture, its MO is to mix family amusement and furniture shopping into one mind-blowing experience. They have an IMAX theatre, which according to the owner allows for a “4D movie-going experience.” Our kids are too little to partake in this celebration of Einsteinian physics, but we thought it might be a good idea to bring them to the Enchanted Village, a series of 2-3 foot figurines set within various holiday settings.
The Enchanted Village has quite the heritage that Jordan’s felt meaningful enough to resurrect. From about 1968 to 1970 Jordan Marsh displayed the Enchanted Village in the windows of its Downtown Crossing location. Then they put it away until the 1990’s. Macy’s then bought Jordan Marsh and gave the Enchanted Village a second chance. The magic wasn’t there, so they sold it to the City of Boston, which gave it a third chance. The Enchanted Village then sat in storage for a while, before the City put it up for auction. Jordan’s furniture couldn’t resist this bargain, and now has it displayed in its warehouse.
My wife, 2 year-old daughter and 3 year-old son queued up inside the loading bay of the warehouse at just before noon. We were probably at door number 52, and the entrance to the Village was outside of door 1. And for the next two and half hours, we waited. I’m not going to describe the agony of standing in line, everyone has been there, but what’s incomprehensible to me is why we stayed. After 20 minutes, we knew that we had made a poor decision; our kids could no longer stand on their own. We had to hold them. We brought no food with us, and there was nothing at all to amuse the kids. We essentially brought our children to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Fine. We made a mistake, but why did we stick it out? Why did everyone stick it out? The whole time I saw no one leave the line. It makes no sense. Every twenty minutes or so, I would rebel; my wife would notice this rebellion and shush me, but she didn’t want to be there either. We had lost the ability to think clearly, and so we stayed in line.
Every so often, my wife and I would switch children, an arrangement my daughter didn’t particularly care for . She would push herself away from my chest and throw her head back, which caused me to nearly drop her a few times. Once she realized I had snap buttons on my shirt, she begin pulling my shirt collar, and unsnapping most of the buttons on my shirt. I snapped them back up, and she immediately unsnapped them. I of course got frustrated, told her no, but my wife said, to get over it since it was keeping her quiet.
Near the end of the line, or what you think is the end of the line, a few Jordan’s employees offer to take your picture as a remembrance. For 3 dollars, you can capture for posterity what you looked like after having spent two hours waiting in line inside a warehouse. Supposedly they superimpose a shot of the Enchanted Village as backdrop to your family photo.
When we finally entered the Village, we expected to be free of the line. We weren’t. We had to walk through the Village in single file; if people paused to take pictures we paused. Standing in line for a long period of time, the body begins to feel different. The body wants to range, maybe move laterally but the line does not allow for lateral movement or ranging of any kind. Suddenly we heard the sound of a motor, and I panicked. Here comes the gas, I thought. It wasn’t gas, but fake snow flakes sent from confetti cannons.
We ended up skipping most of the scenes in the Village, and hurried to the concession stand where I ordered a large popcorn, two slurpies and oversized pack of peanut M&M’s. I didn’t have any cash on me, but the attendant assured me that “they take everything.”
At this point we were pretty feral, so we hunkered in a corner and guarded our food. We left soon after, vowing never to mention the Enchanted Village again. The holiday season was over.