Absolute CuteCommentary • ISSUE 40•36 • Sep 8, 2004 By Jean Teasdale – A Room Of Jean's Own I just had a major idea, and I want to write it down and get it out there before I begin to second-guess it. So here goes: I, Jean Teasdale, am seriously thinking about going into the pom-pom-balls-with-googly-eyes business. (No wait, Jean. Don't say "seriously thinking." Say, "I, Jean Teasdale, will go into the pom-pom-balls-with-googly-eyes business," because it's totally within your reach and it's going to happen.) Do you know what I'm talking about, Jeanketeers? Those little fuzzy pom-pom balls with plastic googly eyes on them? And then they have little paper feet with stickum on the bottom? So you can mount them to something? I suppose I should back up a bit and explain why I had this brainstorm. For months, I've had, in the back of my head, the idea of creating a home-based business. If I were self-employed, I could do something that I love and have control over, instead of punching in at some boring office or store and getting bossed around all the time. The tough question was, what should I do? Well, the answer came to me earlier today while I was at the outdoor charity-craft bazaar that the local mall sponsors twice a year. Now, I just love crafts, and I've been known to create a few myself. (Back in the early '80s, I taught myself how to crochet those cute worm-shaped bookmarks with the long tails that end in tassels. Remember those?) I was mentally mapping out a place in my apartment to hang a Styrofoam ostrich marionette when a long, rainbow-colored, furry table at another booth caught my eye. Curious to see what it was all about, I walked closer. Well, it wasn't the table itself that was rainbow-colored and furry, but rows and rows ofyou guessed itpom-poms with googly eyes! I mean, there were hundreds of them. I was enchanted! A woman was sitting behind the table, knitting quietly. I asked her if she'd made the pom-poms. She said she hadn't and explained that the adorable little fellas were the work of the residents of the Grapevine Group Home for Developmentally Disabled Adults. I snapped up a bunch of pom-pom critters, several of each color. When I got home, I had quite a time trying to decide where to stick the first one. On the TV? On top of the fridge? Along the windowsill in my bedroom? On the mantelpiece above our artificial fireplace? Atop the medicine cabinet? On the stereo speakers? On the heat registers? On my jewelry box? On the wooden utility rack above the kitchen sink? In my curio cabinet? On my clock radio? On the plastic Kleenex box cover in the bathroom? On the phone receiver? I finally decided on my computer monitor. But when I reached into my bag of pom-poms to pull one of the little guys out, I found something very disturbing. A googly eye had come off of one of the green pom-poms, and the feet were peeling off of both a red and a pink one. At least three others were starting to unravel. When I finally found a pom-pom with all its facial features intact, the feet would not stick to my monitor! I have to say, I was more than a little disappointed with the pom-pom critters. They were not up to par. It came down to two words: shoddy craftsmanship. The eyes, as well as the feet, had been glued on with regular glue. Any idiot knows that affixing tiny plastic eyes onto an uneven polyester surface calls for the use of a hot-glue gun. Where was the quality control? (I'm all for giving developmentally disabled adults jobs, but they need supervision.) I could think of a lot of ways these pom-pom critters could be improved. For starters, the eyes and feet need to be affixed properly. Next, mouths would lend the pom-poms a little more personality. Or maybe even eyebrows and mustaches. And different types of footwear. Or antennae, like little Martian men? Or tiny felt hats, or even eyeglasses? And, if they have little paper feet, why not paper hands, too? The hands could hold things, like signs with inspirational messages on them! Then, in a flash of inspiration, it dawned on me that I could make the pom-poms. This could be the home-based business I've been dreaming about all my life! It would marry my creative yearnings with my desire to stay home! Also, due to my medical condition, it's advisable that I work in a calm, familiar environment. (I have Type-2 diabetes. Even though I'm not technically disabled and would resent anybody treating me differently, I need to be more careful about looking out for my health and well-being.) There's an obvious market out there for well-crafted pom-pom balls with googly eyes. Otherwise, you wouldn't see them at bazaars and gift shops. And why wouldn't people want them? They're cheap, unconditionally friendly, and non-judgmental. (Heaven knows we could all use a friend right now, seeing as how the world hates America's guts so much.) But there's one thing that's even more inspiring than the prospect of self-employment or giving people a little joy. You see, I recently realized that the driving force in my life, the thing that gets me off the ol' waterbed every morning, is my relentless pursuit of "absolute cute." I saw a show on the learning channel about how the lowest temperature possible is called "absolute zero." Well, why can't there be an "absolute cute"? That is, a form of cuteness that has reached ultimate perfection? I believe that, in their perfected form, pom-pom critters could achieve absolute cuteness. In order to be cute, something must meet four standards. First, the item's exterior must be round, and its limbs, if any, must be stubby. Second, it should have eyes that are round, and very large in proportion to the figure's size. Third, it needs to be soft. Fourth, and most importantly, an item, if truly cute, will pass this test: If expanded to large proportionssay, the size of a Macy's parade balloonit will still be cute. (Unlike Bullwinkle, for example.) I realize that I'm getting a tad far afield here, Jeanketeers. But I'm really excited about my idea of making and selling my own pom-pom balls with googly eyes. I'll think about money, time, and production issues later. For now, I'm going to get out my trusty sketchpad, plunk myself down, and whip up some prototypes!