When my boyfriend, Andrew, told me he had ordered something special for my birthday, I didn’t know what to expect. We started dating in October, and for Christmas he gave me a television. He won it in a drawing at his company holiday party so it didn’t cost him anything, but still, it was a brand new flat screen TV.
My birthday was in February, just before Valentine’s Day, and after intense questioning Andrew finally admitted that he purchased my gift on eBay. This didn’t narrow the field much, but at least gave me comfort that the gift was not a puppy.
“Is it bigger than a breadbox?” I asked Andrew.
“That depends,” he answered, “how much bread are you planning on storing?”
The box arrived just before my birthday, and it was slightly larger than a box that might hold a loaf of bread. We sliced open the tape that held it together and looked inside. I pulled back the wrapping paper that cushioned the object and saw a flash of bright yellow and orange. Looking up at me from the box was a duck’s head.
“It’s a cookie jar,” Andrew said.
“Oh,” I said, as I looked the ceramic duck in its beady little eyes. Whoever painted this duck had an unsteady hand. The eyes were wide and startled but the orange bill appeared expressionless, giving the impression that this particular duck didn’t care much about anything. I reached into the box to pick up the lid of the cookie jar, and discovered that the head was detached. Tiny shards of ceramic littered the inside of the box.
“What a shame, it’s broken,” I said with what I hoped was a proper amount of sadness.
“Oh no! We’ll have to fix it!”
I got up and stepped into the kitchen to rummage around in the drawer where I kept spare packets of ketchup, loose toothpicks, and those little twist tie things.
“I’ve got some super glue in here somewhere,” I said.
“That won’t do. We’ve got to pick up some epoxy,” Andrew replied. He went on to explain in detail the importance of bonding strength and application style. “Epoxy will fill in the small cracks and create a smooth surface. It will bond better with the ceramic surface.” A trip to the home improvement store was required, to get the special two part epoxy that would mend the duck.
Andrew and I met online. I marked the days off on the calendar until we could meet in person, thinking all the time that I wasn’t getting any younger. Starting over after a divorce in my 50’s was challenging and I never expected that I would find anyone I could tolerate for more than a few hours. I liked Andrew well enough to step up and give him a kiss at the start of our second date. And now we had progressed to shopping together for hardware.
We purchased the epoxy and Andrew spent nights at the kitchen table with newspaper spread out under the broken cookie jar. He picked up bits of ceramic duck with tweezers and slowly fit the pieces together. He mixed epoxy until we were giddy with the fumes, and filled in the cracks on the surface.
When Andrew finished the mending I announced that the duck should retire to a life of leisure and give up the work of holding cookies. There was a brownish faded photograph included in the package with the cookie jar. The snapshot shows the jar cradled by slender feminine hands, the woman’s face cut off from the frame. The date 1977 is printed in ink on the back of the picture. I wondered how the duck wound up at auction, bought and shipped to end up shattered but then restored.
“Well, it’s not perfect but I guess it’s okay,” Andrew said. We placed the duck on a shelf and we were pleased with the repair. The cracks were noticeable only if you peered closely, and even the original owners might overlook the imperfections.
“It’s wonderful,” I said, “just the right birthday present.”
If love is the glue that binds us, then patience is what sets the bound and fills the missing bits from our damage, smoothing the surface to make us good as new.