Thursday, September 09, 2004


Plenty of people call a pacifier a "binky," but it was the ELOML's baby word for "blankie" instead: binky, later shortened to bink. He still had his, a comforter his mother had hastily sewn into a basic red-white-and-blue sack. He called it "the sick bink," perfect for huddling under when you had the sniffles and were capable of nothing more than lying on the couch watching "Hunter" reruns on cable, sipping Theraflu. It had a matching pillow, too.

I'm kind of a fool for binks. I like quilts, know a little bit about the traditional patterns, even though I'm incapable of undertaking such a project myself--the biggest sewing task I've accomplished in my life was making kitchen curtains out of cut-up IKEA tablecloths, and that consisted solely of being able to pin and hem a few rectangles. I have a couple storebought quilts that I love, even if they were cranked out by some Pottery Barn wage slave...she might be somebody's grandma, after all. I have a Mexican wool throw in the back of my car, just in case I get caught in a meteorologically unlikely blizzard on the way home. I have a designated Hideous Pink Picnic Blanket that's impervious to stains, or at least looks none the worse for them.

In a sealed plastic tub under the bed, I have my bink...half of it, anyway. I couldn't be parted from it when visiting Grandma as a little girl, and at some point she cut it in two and bound the edges, ensuring that a portion of bink in each household would alleviate any sleepless nights. It's just a mass-produced, unremarkable quilt, strips of disintigrating blue-and-pink fabric barely clinging to the batting. The corners, however, are reinforced with tough squares of one of Grandma's old housecoats, due to my penchant for drifting off, mauling the blanket corners and occasionally sticking one into a nostril. If I washed the bink, I'm sure it would simply dissolve, its last molecules swirling out with the final rinse. It smells like Grandma's house, though, like Grandma. After she died, sometimes I'd just hold it and breathe it in, for a moment. Then quick, quick, stuff it back in the box, try to preserve that Grandma scent. I'm not sure it's working. It smells more and more like plastic tub, I fear.

A couple weekends ago I went with Darcy to Burnt Sugar in the Fremont neighborhood--what, funky housewares? fabulous retro purses? magnificent soaps? oh, all right, TWIST MY ARM--and there was...a bink. A magnificent quilt, made up of felted patchwork squares of old wool sweaters, in rich shades of rose and burgundy and purple. It had different textures, ribbed and smooth and cabled. It had lime-green rickrack around the hem. Rickrack! I stood petting it with my mouth open until the clerk swished up to me.

"Isn't that wonderful?" he said. "It's on sale." Marked down to $175 from $250. God. No. Must. Not. I looked at the lilac-bright blanket-stitched trim.

"Look--it has a little pocket," the clerk said. One of the sweater squares had a dainty breast pocket still attached; he wiggled his fingers in it, to demonstrate.

I put the quilt and my Visa on the counter five minutes of hemming and hawing later. "Look what you made me do!" I told him.

But we talked about knitting and crocheting and quilting, while the other clerk rang up the sale. About his grandmother, who specialized in tatting: cranking out lace doilies while smoking a Pall Mall and reading her Bible at the same time. "'I'm studying for my final exams!'" he quoted her.

So. I have a new sick bink. I'm eager for cold weather, though summer is dragging its heels outside. I can't wait for a bout of the flu. I'm gonna get on the couch with that quilt and both cats and a cup of tea; I'll put kleenexes in that little pocket. It's going to be wonderful.

No comments: