So Christmas is finally upon us. We surrender to it the way disoriented French soldiers used to surrender to thunderstorms, humbled and with arms pointing to the sky. "Please, God, no more boom-boom-boom. Merci."
I was in Target the other day, not long, only seven or eight hours, a soldier on his last legs looking for where they hid the ground coffee. One of the things you've probably noticed about L.A. store clerks, particularly now, is that they will not ever look you in the eye. It's like you're a spirit, an angel, an abstraction — something they cannot see nor fathom.
I don't know if this is something they teach store clerks or merely something they glean after hours of selflessly serving the public, but they will not acknowledge your existence for fear of having to set off in search of something two aisles over.
Christmas, it seems, is all about searches, wandering in the desert as we do, looking for the right iThis or iThat. I've been seriously swayed by those commercials that convinced me that I absolutely needed a cellphone with a 4G network; we all do. Caught my attention when the T-Mobile elves sang "walking in a 4G wonderland," but it sounded to me like "walking in an orgy wonderland." That's what Christmas has come to, I thought.
Anyway, I'm off searching for electronics and ground coffee, no one there to help. There are, literally, this day legions of Target clerks stocking the shelves for the final push, yet no one much wants to help.
As you know, a Target store is a beautiful place during the holidays, almost sacred. One moment you are looking at scented candles, the next moment chicken pot pies. It's exactly what the rural Chinese must envision America to be: a big place with lots of floor space and gobs of inventory, all of it made in China.
By the way, the one thing I saw at Target that I really liked — absolutely couldn't resist — was a Butterball turkey marked at 98 cents. I don't shop for frozen turkeys very much, if at all. But even I know that 98 cents for an entire bird is a pretty good deal. Heck, at KFC (or most bars) you can't even get a thigh for that.
Turns out — duh — that it was 98 cents PER POUND, so at that price, the turkey didn't seem like such a bargain, so I bought a big bag of meatballs instead. Pound for pound, frozen meatballs are one of the best things you can get. I'm giving them as gifts.
Am I satisfied with my Christmas purchases? Well, mostly. Bought the relatives some bloody mary mix, one size fits all. At one point some dolt — might've been my sister — suggested that we not drink this holiday, that we waddle through the whole thing stone-cold sober. But sensible heads soon prevailed.
"I was kidding!" she insisted, but we still have some serious concerns.
I bought my mom a Packers jersey, a rather expensive gift, since NFL merchandise is marked up extremely high, the money going to help professional athletes who otherwise would have nothing.
At 60 bucks, I consider it a good investment because Mom's now 87, and she'll probably wear it as a full-length gown. I can't wait till she shows up at the opera one night with "Aaron Rogers" across her back. Hike!
Speaking of sports, got the little guy a basketball hoop that adjusts to little guy stature, should he never grow again. He's Irish, so we're not sure whether he'll get much over 4 feet. But he'll be able to tell a story, that's the important thing. And he'll love his mother to a phenomenal degree. The Irish are famous for that — but then what ethnic group isn't?
For the lovely and patient older daughter, I bought a hipster hat and a Chelsea Handler book. I like Chelsea Handler because she reminds me of the kind of smirky girl your mom told you never to hang out with. Yet, here I am buying her book for my daughter. How whacked is that? On further consideration, I may give the book to my wife. If she started acting like Chelsea Handler, it'd be one of those win-win-win-win-win-win-win situations.
For the others, I am still looking. I hear Macy's might have some last-minute deals on luggage. New tires are an option too.
Yes, Christmas is all about searches.
My wife insists that I am a terrible shopper, yet she forgets that I almost bought a turkey for a buck.
Besides, the little girl is finally home from college, there's food in the fridge, the house looks like a Bing Crosby set — give or take a dirty sock or six.
Our tree is incredible — might be stolen. At one point, we thought it had termites, but turned out to be one of those carousel ornaments that goes round and round, clicking against the needles as it attempts to start a fire. Still, the tree wobbles a little every time somebody slams the front door.
Boom, boom, boom. Wobble, wobble, wobble.
Truly a 4G wonderland. Merry Christmas.