I realized this as my mother and I picked our way through a large Christmas store in downtown Portland. My mother and I are both fools for Christmas decorations, and there is absolutely no time during a year that we aren't game for shopping for ornaments, garlands, trees, or holiday-themed place settings. So, while her boyfriend and her boyfriend's son sat in a bar down the street, my mother and I spent some serious time oohing and ahhing at Christmas villages, hand-painted Russian Matryoshkas, and a variety of lobster and moose-themed ornaments. Then we came to the last room of ornaments. There, lined up in neat rows that took up nearly an entire wall, were mermaid ornaments.
It's important to know why I saw the flicker of glittery tails and was immediately drawn to the wall. For a large period of my childhood, I was obsessed with the movie The Little Mermaid. I was so obsessed with Ariel and her life under the sea, I spent a considerable amount of time fantasizing that I was a mermaid, that I was able to float and twirl among sea anemones and schools of fish. Sometimes I would go so far as to pretend I was a mermaid for a whole day, and if my parents called me to, say, come into the kitchen and eat my dinner, I'd make my way lazily down the hall, arms stroking, hair tossing, voice singing Ariel's trademark songs.
I've always been into mermaids--probably more than one girl should be, especially considering mermaids aren't real. But still, this explains why I got so excited, why I squealed a little bit when I saw that wall of mermaids. I stepped over the wall to check them out--there were tons!--and that's when I stopped, gasped, and clapped a hand over my mouth. These mermaids weren't what I'd originally thought (mermaid ornaments depicting human careers and situations); instead, they were just slutty. And gay. Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay.
"Look at this!" I hissed at my mother. I plucked one of the mermaids off the wall and balanced it in my palm. It was the best thing I'd ever seen. The ornament was big--larger than my hand--and heavy. These mermaids and their glittery tails were made of real substantial stuff. Slutty, slutty stuff. Their tails were arched in various positions that insinuated sex; they were wearing outfits that should only be seen in the bedroom; and they always had liquor in their hands. A martini, a margarita, a flute of champagne--each mermaid looked like a Vegas hooker who was two drinks away from giving a freebie to that cute guy over by the slots.
"These mermaids are prostitutes!" I said, and my mother and I laughed and poked at each of the skanky sea creatures and their tiny glasses of booze. But none of the girls could even come close to the beauty, the brilliance, and the hilarity of the mermen. I'd never seen such blatantly gay Christmas ornaments before, and, needless to say, I loved them. I wanted to buy every single one of them and start a tradition of having a small themed tree devoted only to these ornaments and their sparkly awesomeness. Just picture it: