Not all that glitters is welcome on the carpet

I froze when I pulled the card out of the mailbox.

It was from my sister-in-law, the one famous for packing greeting cards with a fiesta of tiny, shimmering confetti.

Open the card without precautions and a shower of shiny cutouts of party hats, streamers and noisemakers, and silhouettes of greetings such as “Happy Birthday,” “Happy Anniversary” or “Get Well Soon” flutter to the floor. The dancing foil somehow multiplies on its way down, and burrows into clothing, hair, carpet fabrics, chairs and shelves.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Cleaning out my old house last month, I disturbed a confetti remnant, a glittery green birthday “50.” I’m 64.

You can’t kill this stuff. Six years from now, the new owner will wake up with a flashy foil “Congratulations” in purple stuck to his forehead. It will send him into a panic: “What? Oh, no! Am I having a baby? Did I get a new job and forgot to show up? Have the squirrels in the attic marked me as next? Aaaugh!”

So, I opened this new card cautiously. The card was fiesta-free, which was a relief — and a disappointment, too. I didn’t realize how much booby-trapped cards had become part life expectations. Without a little silliness, there’s not much point.

I thought about this as I came across another person’s lament about glitter. There are crafty people who love to touch up most anything with glazes and globs of glitter, including themselves.

At a party once, a young niece positively glowed. It was as if three million psychedelic fireflies twinkled across her hair, face, neck, arms … and by that time, even her clothes even though she hadn’t dusted them with pixie dust.

“It’s glitter, Uncle Burt,” she chirped. “Everybody’s wearing it.”

“Not on purpose,” I said. “But your mom and dad will be rolling in spilt glitter for months.”

Glitter is worse than sand. Sand eventually disappears, either by vacuum cleaner or by being mashed into the floor so finely that you no longer see it. You may hear crunching noises when you walk across the floor, but you can’t see the ground grains.

Glitter taunts you as sunbeams splash through the window in an ever-moving display of dazzle. Or every time you turn on a light after the sun goes down.

If a kid presents you with a picture of unicorns and rainbows that she created with glitter paint for your refrigerator, know that the only way you’ll ever make a peanut butter sandwich that doesn’t wink at you is to move. And leave the fridge behind.

Glitter lives in a special, inextinguishable category.

Your feet usually find the last of the Christmas tree pine needles by mid-March — soles on fragrant skewers. The mud your mom always harped about — a mop and a broom and boom, you pretty well take care of it.

But glitter… it slowly takes over the whole house, like twinkly fairy mold run amok.

Mom didn’t worry about us boys with glitter. We lived on a farm with cows in the barn. Mom wished it was merely mud, or even glitter, that we tracked into the house when we neglected to take off our boots.

When it came time to look for new flooring, Mom asked the sales guy for brown — in the same shade as cow ploppings. Because these three boys…

It worked. Not the brown carpeting. The embarrassment. If Mom was going to tell complete strangers that yes, we did live in a barn, we’d remember to doff our boots.

I ought to send Mom a card to tell her congratulations for getting us boys to come clean.

I’m going to fill the card with glitter. I can’t wait to see the carpet that matches that.

Sprinkle Cole with confetti at

burton.w.cole@gmail.com or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.


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