Millbrook used to have its own Sears pickup location. That tradition of leisurely flipping through a Sears Wish Book, placing an order and picking up our fulfilled wish a while later while catching up with friends and neighbours on a pleasant stroll downtown had an easygoing, community feel about it that e-commerce just hasn’t captured. When Sears shut its doors here, I wondered how we would ever replace that experience. That was before I realized that we could just … wish.
I was sitting in the Pastry Peddler one day, sipping a cappuccino and wishing that I had a nice pair of pants to wear to a special event that evening. No sooner had the wish popped into my head than the café doors swung open with a bang and the spring wind blew in a wild-looking man with a shock of silvery hair, brandishing a pair of black leather pants high over his head with one hand like a town crier holding a scroll. I was still staring at him in disbelief when he marched directly to my table.
“Have you heard of Cinderella?” he asked. I gulped and nodded. “Well, today, you’re her,” he announced. “If these pants fit, you can wear ’em.”
Two other women in town had already tried on the pants, the man told me. On one, they had been too small, and on the other, too big. He was confident that on me, they would be the perfect fit. I wondered momentarily if I should be concerned that this individual had clearly spent some time calculating where my bottom sat on the continuum of Millbrook bottoms. Ah, what the heck, I decided. It was a pair of leather pants!
“I’ll take them,” I accepted, then added sternly: “But I’m not modelling them for you.” I did have my limits.
“No, of course not,” he said politely. “Try them on at your convenience. Return them here to the café if they don’t fit.”
Now that was convenient, and all transacted from my neighbourhood coffee shop no less. That man turned out to have sized up my bottom just right: the pants fit like a dream. More importantly, they inspired me to think about what else I might wish for.
It was a cold day at the Millbrook farmers’ market when I frigidly wished for a new sweater to keep out the chill. In no time, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was one of our lovely downtown merchants who also ran a booth at the market. “There’s something I want you to have, dear,” she said, passing me a gift bag stuffed with colourful tissue. “It’s a gorgeous sweater that never leaves the back of my closet.” Inside was one of the warmest and most beautiful sweaters I have ever seen, which instantly became my new favourite.
Emboldened by the success of my wishful thinking, I like to give it a try before rushing out to a store. Shortly before Christmas, both of my boys outgrew almost all of their clothing. I moped at the prospect of spending my Christmas budget on clothes that would be sure to un-impress under the tree; but then I remembered to make a wish. Within days, I received an inquiry from a local friend: “Do your boys need clothes?” she asked, unsolicited. You bet they did! Gently-used clothing was delivered to our door that night, along with cookies and a bottle of wine.
Recently, the Millbrook wish fulfilment phenomenon even expanded into meals. “I’d like noodles for dinner, please, Mommy,” my son announced the other morning. Noodles were one of the few staples we didn’t have in our pantry, but in that moment, I wished we did. A few hours later, there was the ting of a text on my cell phone. “I’ve made fried noodles,” a friend in town was saying, “do you want some?” Did I ever!
I don’t know how this Millbrook wish thing works, but I know I like it. We don’t even have to place an order — all we need is the voice in our head for our wish to be delivered by a random neighbour or friend. Maybe it has to do with how interconnected we all are, living in a small community and drinking the same water. Somehow we’ve developed the uncanny ability to perceive each other’s wishes, even before they are articulated.
In any event, times change and so do bottoms, and the leather pants that started it all no longer fit so perfectly. Soon I will take my turn as a Millbrook wish delivery person. So if a woman comes up to you waving a pair of black leather pants, don’t be alarmed. If the pants fit, wear ’em.
By Anita Odessa