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Dec 12

jingle jangle jingle

Seasons Greetings

My husband is a brave man. On a daily basis, he fights spammers and evil monolithic telecom corporations. He eats scary foods like baked beans and green bell peppers. He was president of our neighborhood association. Twice.

But he has his weaknesses. Mushrooms seem to worry him somewhat and he is always sliding them over onto my plate. He runs out of the room whenever I start watching a certain type of indie film.

And then there’s Mr. Bingle.

I find Mr. Bingle to be a delightful character from my childhood — and my parents — as do many people who grew up in New Orleans. I could sing part of the jingle, but I won’t. I remember the Christmas display Maison Blanche, the department store where Mr. Bingle got as much shelf and display time as Santa. He has holly wings and an ice-cream cone hat! I mean, how can you not love him? Here he is photobombing our childhood Santa photo from MB:

Santa picture, 1978

Mr. Bingle scares the hell out of Chip. Every year, I take the little snowman down from the highest shelf in the linen closet and arrange him on the sofa, and wait for the reaction. This year, I brought him in on Sunday, but Chip was so busy working that he didn’t notice until this morning, when I mentioned it. I should have waited for him to have more coffee first. He jumped back slightly, looked somewhat shaken and darted out of the room.

Sometimes when I walk into our living room I notice that Mr. Bingle is mysteriously face down, or hiding under a cushion. Chip blames it on the cat. But the cat is perfectly fine with sharing couch space with Santa’s cutest helper, as you can see from the photo at the top, and would not dream of molesting this adorable holiday icon.

He says it’s the eyes that frighten him. Back in the day, Mr. Bingle used to have metallic eyes, not blue, but I suspect these are safer for children in some way. I would think that shiny silver eyes would be far scarier than cute blue ones, but I’m not the one who keeps asking when Christmas will be over so we can get “that devil doll” hidden away again. There is nothing demonic about Mr. Bingle. I mean, Chip has a Pets.com dog puppet in his office and that’s a lot scarier if you think about it.

On the other hand, I can’t see Mr. Bingle anymore without being a little bit sad. In August 2005, my maternal grandparents’ house in Lakeview was flooded — nine feet of water flooded — after the nearby levees broke. Chip and I visited the house that November with my mom (my grandmother didn’t even want to see it). We had to wear masks because of all the mold. The house had not yet been cleaned out or gutted, which would happen later … and much later, my grandfather sold it. They had been living in that house since the 1950s.

We walked into the living room, and I saw my grandparents’ sectional couch, completely ruined. And this:

Here comes Mr. Bingle

It’s a picture I can’t get out of my head whenever I see the little holly-winged helper. He’s not scary, he’s just a survivor. Battered and waterlogged and covered in mold but still looking oddly cheerful, for me Mr. Bingle is iconic of more than Christmas now.

2 Comments

  1. Beduwen says:

    Awww. He is definitely a survivor! But that photo is a little creepy.

  2. Melanie says:

    Love Mr. Bingle! The original was refurbished is on display every year at Celebration in the Oaks.