Date: 2/3/12 0:00 AM
Once upon a time two years ago, a little Singer Featherweight was suddenly torn from the safety of her case in her Toronto home and slammed down onto the ebay auction block, exposed to the unrelenting gaze of millions. It had happened so fast; a blur of harsh lights flashing at her from all angles, every flaw garnered over her 75 years of hard life magnified ten-fold. In shock she sat, shivering silently, not knowing what was to happen to her. Especially when...if...her shameful secret was revealed to all.
"A 1934 Singer Featherweight with case" proclaimed the auction headline. Place your bids! And a handful of people did so. All seemed well, and she felt the stirrings of hope within her. Perhaps her new owner would learn to love her for who she really was. Perhaps they would never know of the awful secret she had carried from the day she was born.
Then all at once her worst nightmare happened. A prospective buyer asked for a photograph of her serial number. Waves of dizziness hit her and she felt engulfed in pure terror. As the oil pounded in her ears, she dimly felt her body being thrust backwards, the bright flashes of light reflecting in her terror-struck eyes. She knew she was doomed.
The photo of her serial number was duly published for the world's revulsion, and soon enough that revulsion was made known; "FORGERY!" accused the prospective buyer. "FRAUD!"
The other prospective buyers rushed to cancel their bids. For the deep shameful secret the desolate little Featherweight had borne her entire life was an original serial number that had been removed and re-stamped. Would anyone want her at all now? Would someone buy her, only to rip her apart limb from limb, faceplate from body, to sell as a pile of grisly parts? She felt sadness wash over over her as she gave up all hope, and silently awaited her doomed fate. She was a monster, disfigured and disgraced. And while the world could plainly see the disgusting scar on her body, what they couldn't see was the scar on her soul. Only she knew of that torment.
But suddenly someone responded, defending her! And...yes, placed a bid on her! Dare she hope for a future after all?
With no other bids, the little Featherweight soon found herself sold to this new bidder, who lived in a faraway place called Vancouver. She'd never been there, in fact had never been anywhere other than to Toronto right after she'd been born, and she didn't remember much about that trip or her birthplace. Her earliest memory was of a warm and bright place, with lots of humans buzzing around doing things, and lines of other Featherweights just like herself. And large full-grown machines, really big ones, in lines next to her and the other Feathers. So much noise and movement and excitement! Then a dark place, still warm, and the noise only heard at a distance. She thought she could remember being in that big bright place again, right before she left for her trip to Toronto. Maybe that was just a dream. She didn't know who at the big bright place had altered her serial number, or why. She knew only the pain and shame she had endured all her life for the crime of being different.
Shaking off the long-distant memories, she was thankful now to be back in her case, where she once again felt safe in the dark and familiar interior, away from the world's scornful eyes. Soon, by the noises and the bouncing, she knew she was on her way to her new home, and whatever fate had in store for her there...
The light was blinding at first. She slowly blinked, realizing she was finally here, her new home, and someone had opened her case. A scream welled up in her throatplate as a large, round and exceedingly furry face suddenly thrust itself at her. "What new horror was this!" she sobbed to herself. Was this monster planning to eat her whole? Maybe there were fates worse than being dismembered for parts!
Then she heard a voice, and felt a hand close around her body, lifting her gently out of her case. A warm hand. A soft voice. And the huge Featherweight-eating beast...why, it started making the loveliest sound she'd ever heard! A soft, rather rumbly and comforting sound. As she was set down onto the plush carpet, the beast lovingly wrapped itself around her, his fur tickling her sides.
The human stroked her, speaking to her all the while. Deft fingers removed her soiled oil pan liner and a warm soapy wash rag took off the years of crusted dirt on her coat. Cream was rubbed into her all over and gently removed, bringing back some of her original luster. After a thorough feeding of fresh oil, she felt almost new. But the deep pits on her body and, worst of all, the scar of her re-stamped serial number remained. She would have to live with these hurts, as she had lived with them for so many long years.
She would be thankful for her new home, she decided, and after all, she would not be alone. For there were other Featherweights -several of them- living here. They were all chatty and friendly, gleaming with good health, and they all seemed filled with a deep contentment. Surely she would be safe here, she thought. Even the beast seemed to like her, and the other Featherweights certainly had no fear of it, as it lazed beside and between them.
As the little Featherweight grew more comfortable in her new surroundings, she came to know the others. One in particular had caught her eye. He was the most beautiful and unusual Feather she'd ever seen, his entire body a soft misty blue, and he had black decals! And a chromed badge! She'd never seen nor heard of such a thing before.
And even more amazing to her was the fact that he had a name. "Sterling Blue, but everyone just calls me Sterling", he'd told her. In fact, all the Feathers had names! No one had ever given her a name. She decided she too wanted a name of her own; she would ask Sterling how to do this.
"Every Feather has a name of their own." Sterling told her.
"I don't." she sighed wistfully.
"Well, what name would you like?"
Shock coursed through her...she could just pick a name of her own? Surely not! But...if the others had, why couldn't she? But she was so ugly and scarred, she thought. Would a pretty name change that? No, but she could still have something pretty about her. A hazy and long-distant memory surfaced, of a soft pink toy once owned by the little human of her previous owner. She'd always loved the pretty color, and envied the adoration the toy had received from its little owner. She had longed to be as pretty and as wanted.
"Bunny?" she spoke tentatively.
"Bunny?" repeated Sterling.
"Bunny." she spoke firmly. "My name is Bunny."
The days and months passed, and Bunny grew very contented with her new lot in life, enjoying the companionship of her Feather-mates, her kind new owner, and even a budding friendship with the beast (who was a "cat" called Woo, she learned). She loved being groomed and petted by her owner, and even managed to forget her damaged body and ugly serial number. At least most of the time. Only occasionally were her dreams haunted by her old nightmares.
One day, while the Feathers were chasing each other and the cat around the place as usual, her owner became very excited by an email she'd received from Leo, a famous Featherweight Guru.
"It's about you, Bunny!" her owner called. "You're not a forged Featherweight at all. Sterling get down from there. In fact, you're very rare and special, a 'Lost Featherweight'! Chester, quit sewing over Woo's tail."
The Feathers stopped their chasing, Sterling clambered down from the top of the fridge where he'd been poised to spring upon an unsuspecting Tristan napping on the floor, and Chester stopped sewing over Woo's tail, as they all gathered together around the computer to read this astonishing news.
For it seems, during several years of research, Leo had stumbled across a tiny handful of other Featherweights, with re-stamped serial numbers just like Bunny's. And the fonts were all exactly the same, and professionally milled not some forger hand-chiselling numbers to defraud and deceive unwary buyers.
The other thing Leo knew, that most other humans didn't, was the fact that Featherweights have TWO serial numbers stamped on them; one visible, and the other, secret serial number, stamped under the arm, where the machine head joins the body, and only by dismantling the machine can this hidden number be found.
In dismantling the other Feathers, Leo had made an amazing discovery; the original Singer-factory stamped serial numbers were all from 1933, the first run of Featherweights ever done...and were not listed on Singer's records! You see, Singer records state only 10,000 Feathers were born in that first run of 1933. This wasn't the case; more Feathers had been born in 1933, and Singer had set them aside, to change the factory over for other models. When Singer changed over again in 1934 to produce more Feathers, these 1933 Feathers were pulled back onto the line. As their original visible serial numbers were now already in use by other machines (model 81s and 95s and others), Singer simply ground off the original numbers and re-stamped new ones. Meanwhile, the original hidden serial numbers remained, only being discovered when one crossed Leo's path and was dismantled (after which the Feather was given a beautiful new coat and was better than new).
These rare Featherweights, re-stamped by Singer as being 1934s, were in fact original 1933 first-runs...the "Lost Featherweights"! Not forgeries at all!
Leo wanted Bunny to make a trip down south, to his Featherweight Spa and Resort in Texas, to enable him to confirm her true identity. It would mean dismantling her, so Leo could have access to her original hidden serial number, but both he and her new owner promised her that she would not feel any pain during the procedure, and would be given a perfect new coat and decals afterwards. Black with gold decals. She'd look exactly as new, she was told. Bunny was very excited about this, to lose not only her shame over her serial number disfigurement, but to be made beautiful again! To be considered a rare and special Feather, not a disfigured fraud! The other Feathers were so happy for her, knowing the pain that had filled her life for so many years.
To be as new again! All lustrous black, with rich golden decals! Bunny had never even considered such a miracle happening to her.
"But...I wonder...would it -could it- be possible..." she thought.
"Must I be black and gold?"
And she thought some more. And she pondered. And she wondered. And she thought and she pondered and she wondered for days. And finally she knew her true heart's desire. After all, she'd always been different. And look at Sterling. He wasn't a black and gold-decals Featherweight at all, and he was the most wonderful, most handsomest Feather she'd ever met!
"Pink." she shyly whispered to her new owner. "I'd like to be pink."
"And so you shall, Bunny!" her owner replied. "A soft vintage pink, with black decals. You'll be the most beautiful Bunny ever!"
After many enjoyable hours spent together viewing and discussing paint chips and on-line cars and trucks and even motorcycles and sheds, Bunny finally chose her shade...
Light Playboy Pink.
And during her spa visit, and published for all the world to see, Bunny's original secret serial number was revealed...
Bunny; a 1933 first-run machine. One of the "Lost Featherweights". And not a fraud or a forgery at all.
Thus ends the story of The Case of the Playboy Bunny Featherweight. And a very happy story it came to be.
-- Edited on 2/3/12 0:55 AM --
I heart Panzy, Pfaff Creative Performance, the sewing machine love of my life!
And Baby (Enlighten serger), Victor (BLCS), Rupert (Pfaff 2023-knits expert) Ash (B350SE-Artwork), Kee (B750QEE-Panzy's BFF), Georgie (B560-Kee's baby sister) and the Feather-Flock!
Most of all, I heart Woo (HimmyCat). Until we meet again, my beautiful little boy. I love you.