NUT-CRACKER

I’m done with my Christmas shopping. Now before all you procrastinating people curse the fine paper you’re reading from, hear me out.

A year ago I was hemming and hawing at the indignant early appearance of Christmas decorations that have the luring potential of getting us to prepare far in advance for gift giving. I delayed the exercise of intensive mall duty until my eagerness reached a much higher level. But I figured the following February would be too late. I drove to the marketplace of indefinite dimension where I saw Santa and his merry men obstructing traffic to and from Nordstrom’s. Or at least that’s what I told my daughter who wanted a gazillion dollar Dooney & Bourke purse. I’m sure she ended up squealing with delight after seeing gift certificates instead for Panda Express under the tree. After my rancorous evaluation of finances, I began feeling nothing but contempt for mall chislers who charge exorbitant amounts of currency for their goods. Though instead of shopping for others, I realized I should be shopping for myself. My mother’s words tend to resonate… “Always have on decent underwear, shoes, and jewelry in case you get into an accident.” So off I went to Macy’s.

There were plenty of cologne sales people taking up every inch of aisle space as I headed towards the shoe section. One clerk tried to transmit glad tidings through her hoarseness, which was released with bronchial bacilli and followed by a force of phlegm. She sprayed enough cologne on my wrists to exude suggestive nights on a street corner. After going through the germy perfumed preliminaries, I was pretty sure I would contract something and was hoping that she wouldn’t want to play Pattycake or hand wrestle with me. I’m not sure why salespeople who are coughing up sales pitches while thrusting viruses on you are still employed. But I wasn’t buying. Or staying. She didn’t succeed in making me purchase something that will sit on a shelf with fourteen other unexplained substances that have been stored there since the seventies. This is when I want Macy’s selling face masks. And it sure wouldn’t hurt if Jamba Juice and Wetzel’s Pretzels occupied a liquor license.

Parking is like bracing yourself for another wintery wallop. I was compelled to nag stores into saving me a spot and validate for the last two months of the year. I realize that moving west would provide cultural differences. But I never thought I would need to carry sedatives and nerve gas when dealing with drivers. It’s okay to steal someone’s spot if you don’t mind retaliatory crowbar dents on your car.

It tickled me pink to wait in line at Toy’s-R-Us on Thanksgiving eve while drinking my leftovers, a smoothie blended with ambrosia and cranberry sauce. I almost drenched my drawers waiting for that store to open. And I had just given thanks for everything when a dudish dragon with a girl tattoo slid in front of me, who was more than willing to start a stampede and race for the same doll that I wanted. I had never seen someone so spirited. I have honed my people skills, it’s my intolerance for line cutters that needs attention. Sometimes you just need a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I love the male species, but when it gets to the point that their primal instinct is to battle for something, it makes me want to achieve a heavyweight title. As his character assessor, I thought he’d be much better off embalmed. If only I had stood in line with a pallet of Snickerdoodles and a rehearsed story of why I needed the doll more than he did. I was waiting there so innocently reading a Thessalonians Guide to Patience book. Not really. It was a decoy covering what I was truthfully reading which was Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Man. Once the store opened, I was hoping he’d stop and ask me for aisle directions. I would have led him straight out the back door. That guy got the doll first, and probably shattered the dreams of about two hundred other poor souls including me. It was his word against mine. But I was taught to excuse and endure whatever comes. After the initial paralysis wore off, I was never again going to stand in a line that long and beg. I might have three minutes when my affection for gifting swells. But all of this prompted me to move away from the common practice of cramming to Christmas shop plus pushing through a treetopia of mad dashers and vixens. Those not-so-brief moments of crystal clarity led me to buy Christmas presents all year and be finished shopping by the end of Fall.

Women were born to shop. This girl now abides by that persuasion between the hours of January 1st through October 31st. Besides, it’s not economical spending in November and December. That coat I bought myself last year cost a bundle. I have tried keeping up with both the Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel standards of living. But their goods could cost me roughly five thousand dollars and I only have fifty. This year, my lunch bag luminaries will provide ample direction to my doorstep. And people partying at my place will be using the finest in decorated plasticware. I hope my leftover Fourth of July napkins will suffice. I think the stars on them still work, and I have made George Washington look more like a bearded jolly kind of guy. I would have liked hiring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for entertainment, but the Chipmunks will do. They ran out of mistletoe, so I’m hanging mustard greens. And my strings of lights might be untangled by Easter.

All my pre-bought presents ready for wrapping, though I’ve developed OGD (Obsessive Gifting Disorder) since I bought more than I remembered I had. Budget cutting should apply when there are Christmas sales in July.

(Posts can be seen in the EXTRA weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

SMARTYPANTS

The emphatic pounding startled me out of a deep sleep at 1:30am. The next thing I knew, flashlight beams were scanning the sliding door, then penetrating my bedroom window. “It’s the sheriff’s department. Open the door!” I obeyed orders, the same way I obey the dentist when he asks me to open my mouth. Very reluctantly. I unlocked my entry to three city officials who were operating their impressive instruments of communication. They saw the jolting look on my face, polarized with this sudden invasion of privacy. “We may have the wrong house. Are you Lucy?” My stunned state gave me the itch to respond in a smart-alecky and forthright manner like, “No! Are you Desi, Fred, and Ethel?” But I refrained. I was more prepared to say, “Okay already, I’ll give back the butter knife that just happened to fall into my purse on the way out of the Italian Ristorante last night.” I suppose it was best that I didn’t confess. But I probably looked like a criminal, because I sure felt like one.

What lampoonery, when the police department can’t deploy officers over the age of fifteen. And because it was close to Halloween, how did I know these younguns weren’t dressed in badged uniforms and holding onto fake firearms just waiting for me to pass out Mars bars? It would have been different if my place had just become a crime scene, was filled with terrorist bomb making material, or if I was a Jello Wrestler gone wilder and naked. The call was made because two people in the vicinity were squabbling. The worst part was the blinding flashlights and not being able to fall back asleep until after 3. When this sort of infiltration occurs, that’s when sarcasm steps in. I wanted to suggest that a cosmetic clay derived from boar bristles can really cure their pimples. But I had another brand spanken new thought. Cops could make sure of the right address before waking the entire general area, and possibly Nevada, besides making me look like a delinquent lawbreaker. Which could haunt me for the rest of my storyforsaken life. There was a lot more I wanted to say. But being tossed in the slammer would not have improved my perfect never-thrown-in-jail record. They could have arrested me solely on the look given during their final moments of interrogation. So far I have lived dangerously yet avoided cell service, that place behind bars where other smartypants provide sarcasm as well.

Call me the sneaky habitual harvester of natural plant life and manipulator of mail delivery. First of all, I have not known how to stop my ten fingered thievery since we are blessed with natures finest wreath making deciduousness, along with irresistible items that don a restaurant table. I recently exited the library and there stood a tree with awesome tendril relics dangling from it. I figured it would be a nice addition to my crime spree if I went back at dusk, armed with snippers and a big bag. Why would anyone care? These droopy enticers probably grow back quicker than rabbits multiply. Butter knives I’m not so certain of. Sure as the smile on my face, someone showed up ready to wipe it away with the subtle insinuation that I might be doing something really really horrible. I withheld the smugness of saying, Unless you have hedge clippers or handcuffs, I’m outta here.

Secondly, it’s about that junk piled in my mailbox. With considerable enthusiasm, I’d like to slip a bill back into the envelope and inconspicuously tape, staple, and glitter glue it back into its original form. Then write ‘No one lives here by that name’ and throw it back into the mail slot, hoping it passes the postal inspection with all the fingerprints and foreign substances attached to it. I’d also like to pay my taxes in pirate treasure coins by shooting them via slingshot from the White House lawn. I heard it’s not hard to gain access anymore.

The X37-B mini shuttle that’s been roaming around space landed after a two year classified mission. To do what? Spy on other countries? Or me? Let me get through a day without legislatorial interference. The next thing I know, they will be forcing me to wear polka dots on Wednesdays, and their secret snoopers will be scouring my rooftop for bird poop and up my waste management fee another 20%. Then they will be telling Charlie Sheen he can’t date every cheerleader in Sherman Oaks plus half the waitresses in Los Angeles county. Although I might have to go along with the government there. He’s been so hooked on the hokey-pokey that I’m not so sure he can turn himself around.

Like Patsy Cline says, “Worry? Why do I let myself worry?” It’s crazy to put the government in charge of, well, let me see. How about nothing! Need I remind probing constables of their own slovenly senatorial management? It’s highly unlikely that I will rid my smartypantish attitude as long as someone is spying on me. And they really have control issues. Take Massachusetts, where a district court judge slapped a five hundred dollar fine on a fisherman for untangling a whale from a net and setting it free. Apparently he didn’t call state authorities first. They should be doing something far more useful, like solving our gravity problem. Newton’s laws need major alterations since my body is doing some awfully strange things. Plus, there aren’t a lot of people living amongst us who are that down to earth.

I used to fret that God might aim his lightning bolts and fry me at two hundred miles per hour. But more realistically, the federal government may seize me and dump my lifeless body in a landfill. Which is already over-occupied with mattresses and men’s golf clubs thrown out by disgruntled wives. These smarty Patty-pants will more likely end up in Purgatory. Hell is for people like Manson.

(Posts can be found in the EXTRA weekend edition of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)