When I was in middle school my family lived in a house behind my grandparents’. Some days my sister and I would walk over to their house after school, to eat marshmallows and watch Kids WB. We’d watch Animaniacs, Captain Planet and Scooby Doo, and then we’d switch it to PBS and watch Wishbone and my favorite, Zoom!
The show started with the jam, “Come on and zoom!” and then at some point over the next half hour, would move into the craft sent in by a “zoomer at home.” Soup can telephones, paper plate tambourines, 2 liter bottle tornadoes, you name it. I was hooked.
At the end of each episode, they would splash the mailing address across the screen and say, “Send us your ideas!” The graphic would flash colors and sounds, evoking a longing and desperation from my 12 year old heart. How badly I wanted to be the featured “zoomer at home.” How frustrated I was for my lack of ideas.
One afternoon I was sitting at the kitchen table eating an Eskimo pie, when I saw my Grammie set a jar of leaves on the table. It was a nice jar, much more decorative than the ones in the refrigerator that held blackberry jam. The leaves were dark, almost dead looking but more purple. Pretty in a way I’d never seen before.
“Potpourri,” she explained and offered the open top for me to smell.
Inexplicably, the jar of dead foliage smelled like heaven. My wheels started turning.
I went home that night and sifted through every cupboard in our creaky tiled kitchen. Mugs and pans and plates and silverware. Pots and baking sheets and bowls and cheese graters. Nothing was good enough.
In the dining room was my mom’s china cabinet. The bottom cupboards were child locked, but I had long mastered the art of the push and click combination. I spotted a vase, not too skinny, not too tall. Jar-ish and decorative. It was perfect. So, being the rebel I remain today, I asked for permission to use the jar.
The next day after school, I sloshed around in the autumn leaves, crunching them in the fingers as I stuffed them into the jar. They weren’t purple, but they were dead, so it counted.
Once the jar was full, I retreated to my Grammie’s bathroom and sat at her vanity mirror to graze over my options. I decided on a square bottle with a hat that looked like an ice cube. The liquid inside looked like a beer my dad drank and the name was familiar from a song.
I then proceeded to squirt 5 doses of my Grammie’s Chanel No. 5 into the jar of damp leaves, seal the lid and write my letter to Zoom.
My name is Kimberlee with 2 e’s instead of one. I have an idea for a craft and I hope you like it because I would love to be a zoomer at home that you talk about on your show. I watch Zoom every day at my Grammie and Papa’s house and I love it. Here is was you need for my craft: a jar, some leaves, some good smelling stuff. Here is how you do my craft: collect leaves in the jar, the more colorful the better, but they have to be crunchy. Fill your jar to the top and then spray the good smelling stuff on top and put the lid on to keep the smell in. When you want to let the smell out, take off the lid. It’s called Poporry.
Sincerely, Kimberlee the zoomer at home.
Shockingly, the Zoomers never showcased my idea on the show. I waited for weeks, assuming they were saving it for a special episode, or that maybe they were going to fly me out to demonstrate the ground breaking creativity live on air. But for whatever reason, trapping perfume in a confined space with moldy leaves didn’t interest them. Their loss.