Ever since she was little, my daughter has named things. Her first doll, a Raggedy-Ann doll hand-made by my friend Jill, was called Karen-Tina. She had a stuffed flamingo she called Eagle-Eggs. She named flowers, trees, our dogs, her dance – “Look, Mom and Dad – watch me do the chicken dance!” And our suitcases. Since we travelled a lot, we had suitcases, and my daughter named them. There was Mr Wilson, who, on his first voyage, caught on something and tore. I repaired it with duct tape, and then every time he appeared on the baggage carousel, she’d shout, “Look, there’s Mr Wilson with the tape on his butt!”
I bought too many new clothes (at the thrift shop) and when I tried to pack, I saw we needed a new suitcase. So, we went to back the thrift shop and there was a suitcase on wheels. It stood as high as my chest and was covered with a richly patterned brown and green tapestry. It looked like something the Adam’s Family would use. My daughter thought it was terrific, so we bought it (5$) and started to wheel it outside. “We’ll call it Igor,” said my daughter, patting it on the side. “I hope it isn’t too big,” I said, doubts starting to assail me. It hadn’t seemed so big in the thrift shop, standing next to the refrigerator. Outside, on the sidewalk, it suddenly became a lumbering giant. I steered it to the parking lot, where my mother was waiting with the car. “What is that?” she exclaimed. “It’s Igor”, said my daughter.
My mother looked doubtful. “It’s awfully big,” she said. “When it’s full, you’re not going to be able to lift it.”
“It has wheels,” I said. I wasn’t so sure, actually, if the wheels would hold it. I started to remember the saleswoman’s expression as I’d wheeled it to the counter. What I’d thought had been awe was, in hindsight, more like incredulousness – as in ‘I can’t believe she’s taking that thing off our hands’.
We tried to get it into the back seat, but it didn’t fit through the door. My mother popped the trunk, and we tried to cram it in, but it was too big. It hung out. My daughter gave a sigh. “Poor Igor”, she said. “We’ll have to take him back.”
We did. Luckily the saleswoman was understanding and gave me a full refund (5$). I went to a sporting goods store and found a more manageable sized suitcase (a lot more than 5$). Back in the car, my daughter and mother pretended to mourn Igor.
“It’s so sad,” said my daughter. “We hardly knew Igor.”
“It’s for the best,” I said. “We underestimated him.”
My mother nodded. “He just didn’t fit in the family.”