The Picnic Backpack, or the Best White Elephant Snatch (er, Steal) Ever

I would like to introduce you to my new little friend…

The Picnic Backpack!

This item was won at my mom’s group Christmas party, wherein a very complex White Elephant gift swap was undertaken. Now, you could either use an item that you bought for $10 or less; or an item you already had around. One lady who shall remain unnamed brought this in as an unused item, since obviously it is worth far more than $10. The most interesting thing about this was:

The first person who got it unzipped the backpack and removed a large framed picture. The lady who gifted it gasped, “Oh, that’s mine!” and raced to reclaim it, tucking it face-down under her chair. Though I was curious to know what this picture was of (large winky face) I refrained from peeking out of great willpower.

You can steal something three times, and I was the 17th up. By then the picnic backpack had been stolen twice. Friend Nancy came up with some Machiavellian plot she tried to get people involved with (you get me the backpack, and I’ll steal you the martini glasses) but I wanted the backpack for my own. I’d just seen one like it in a catalog.

So when my number was called, I casually walked up and claimed it from the very sweet Miranda who had it (Miranda being so nice it was like kicking a kitten) and strolled back to my spot as the women cheered. You see, it’s not my style to crow and carry on; do not my actions speak loud enough? Shall I have to raise my voice above the din to make it heard? Can I think of any other hyperbole? (This last is for Nancy, who, the next day, complained that I was way too quiet about it or something).

I imagine my backpack will be carried exclusively by someone other than me, to romantic hilltops aboard white horses glazed with foam or on aerial trams swaying gently in gale-force winds; to exotic treehouses perched above warm oceans; to snow-capped peaks where hairy little monkeys bathe in hot springs (yay, now I sound like J Peterman copy!)

Here’s a link to the origins of that storyline on SEINFELD, if you’re interested:

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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