12 Days of Significance (15)

By: Jen Collins
December 27, 2016

One in a holiday-season series of posts that will reprint stories written — by 12 HILOBROW contributors — for the 2009–2010 SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS project. (In 2012–2013, we reprinted 12 stories by HILOBROW contributors that were also to be found in the Fantagraphics-published collection Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things.)

The following story is by Jen Collins. Enjoy!




For my 9th birthday, I begged my mother to take me to the iron-on decal store at the Meadow Glen Mall. I had seen some older boy wearing a sweatshirt with a glittery rip-off of the Superman “S” shield saying SUPERBRAT, and I had to have one. By the time I convinced my mother, they had run out of the decal. So I settled for a glitter Garfield on a royal blue pullover hoodie. I was crazy about Garfield — he loved lasagna and hated Mondays, just like me. I had all his books and my friends would come over and read them. This was awesome to a 9-year-old in 1983. I wore the pullover to the arcade, to sleepovers, and to my first track meet.

I wasn’t a Superbrat anyway. I did have a whoopee cushion, though, and a ketchup squirt bottle with a long string in it — both gifts from my father, a wiseass. Naturally, I always picked the 7Up Uncola glass from the kitchen shelf, except for when he picked it first. A few times, when we were watching TV, he stole it from me when I wasn’t looking.

For my 13th birthday — a few days before it — my father left us. A Monday morning. He was packing his briefcase for work while Ma was packing our lunches for school. He came into the TV room, kissed my little sister on the forehead and told her, “Do good today, OK? ABCs?” Then he side-hugged me and said, “See ya latah, Ambah.”

When I got home after track practice that night, my mother told me my father wasn’t coming back. “He left you a present,” she said.

“An abandonment present? Is that customary? No thanks.”

“What can I tell you? He’s an asshole, he’s always been an asshole. At least he remembered this year.” She put a package on the kitchen table, wrapped in newspaper.

It was shaped like an Uncola glass.


SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018). 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE . ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: UNBORED CANON by Josh Glenn | CARPE PHALLUM by Patrick Cates | MS. K by Heather Kasunick | HERE BE MONSTERS by Mister Reusch | DOWNTOWNE by Bradley Peterson | #FX by Michael Lewy | PINNED PANELS by Zack Smith | TANK UP by Tony Leone | OUTBOUND TO MONTEVIDEO by Mimi Lipson | TAKING LIBERTIES by Douglas Wolk | STERANKOISMS by Douglas Wolk | MARVEL vs. MUSEUM by Douglas Wolk | NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators