Thursday, November 18, 2010


If you deliver one more Christmas Toy Catalog to that kid...

As the sun began to sink in the west, I heard the scratching of slippers against the wood grain floor and thought, “No. No. It’s too early. I’m not ready! I’m not prepared! Halloween is two weeks passed and still I haven’t carved the pumpkins I picked at Dante’s Fifth Circle of Hell!” (See blog for pumpkin picking at Dante’s Fifth Circle of Hell.)
As the slippered feet shuffled closer and closer to where I was sitting in front of my computer trying to come up with a topic for my column, sweat began to map my forehead. My breathing became erratic. Sounds took on a depth that my ears had difficulty processing. The story I had been concentrating on writing suddenly slipped from my mind and I could only focus on the footsteps that kept coming closer. And closer.  Fear gripped my sense of sensibility and I knew what was coming. I was right to be afraid.
The shuffling came to a complete stop before my chair. Slowly I looked up from the keyboard of my computer and my eyes connected with his. I tried to look away, but he held my gaze and my eyes were held hostage by the force of his stare. Standing before me was my eight- year old son. Wafts of his father’s Old Spice cologne orbited the space around him. As I feared, he stood before me showered, coiffed, in his pajamas; his completed homework was tucked into his folders and ready to be returned to his backpack. It was 4:45pm. In his hands were two thick Christmas Toy Catalogs—Target and Walmart. “Where did you get those?” I asked trying to turn my suspicion into curiosity.
“Well, when I was outside the mailman pulled these from his bag and gave them to me. Along with about 40 more. By the way, I already showered so you don’t have to worry about it later. Also, I’m planning on going to bed at 7 and I’ll read for an hour.”
Oh no! He was now employing “Christmas Good Behavior.” I was sunk. From now until December 24th he will do everything within his power to be the perfect child.
Usually I’m able to intercept the delivery of the Christmas catalogs. At least I take them from the mailman and give the kids one each. This year I was remiss in my duties. I forgot. Hearing my son sing the praises of the mailman made me think of the pivotal mailman scene from the classic Scorcese film Goodfellas. When the mailman delivers delinquency notices from the school to Henry Hill’s parents, Henry’s father throws him the beating of his life. Tuddy and Tony Stacks have Henry i.d. the mailman and together they teach the mailman a lesson by forcing his head into the pizza oven in Paulie’s Pizzeria. Now, of course I harbor no thoughts like that against my mailman, but that scene did play through the loop of my brain as my son continued to sing the praises of the mailman who personally handed him this pile of catalogs. In fact, he couldn’t stop singing the praises of our mailman while he painstakingly circled every item of interest with his thick black permanent Sharpie marker.
Admittedly, I don’t know if it was the intoxicating Sharpie stink that made me entertain thoughts of cinematic violence, or the fact that with every item my son circled (read: everything) I could feel the money drain from our account.
As the Sharpie continued to stink with each successive circular squeak I said, “Now Jack, obviously Santa doesn’t get everything that every eight-year old boy circles. Remember, Santa is in the middle of a bad recession.”
“Isn’t he getting an obscene Wall Street bonus?” he inquired.
Yes, I read the paper out loud. I can’t believe he really listens!
“No, Santa isn’t eligible for a Wall Street bonus,” I replied. “It's not about the money for Santa. Santa wants every child to be equally happy and happy with whatever they get. Most importantly he wants every child to be in good health and to have access to good healthcare.” (Dear God! I just created Socialist Santa!)
“Well, I’m just giving Santa an idea of what I want. By the way, Mother Dear, would you like a cup of tea?”
"Mother Dear? Mother Dear?" I thought. "Oh Lord, I'm in for it!"
As my son shuffled off to get me a cup of tea I grabbed the Target catalog and did a quick calculation of everything he had circled. The fresh toxic scent of Sharpie gave me a brain freeze. Or maybe it was the sum of all fears--the actual cost of that calculation. Doesn't matter because Santa needs either a Sugar Daddy or a Daddy with an obscene Wall Street Bonus. 

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