Holiday lessons


I can do all of my Christmas shopping in only 35 minutes on Friday, December 23 in the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto, the busiest possible time and place I could choose to do it, and I’ll still have time to tell the last cashier I like her hair. Man, if you pull off a move like storming into the mall and smashing your way through a crowd like that to wrap up your shopping in no time flat, you’re an alpha male, a golden god, and a force of nature, and you deserve to blow off a little extra testosterone by flirting with any damn cashier you want.

The mold in my mom’s basement triggers my allergies the day after I get to her house. I don’t know if St. Lawrence Mold is something officially named as such or something that she named, but it triggers such a strong allergy attack that I get miserable, irritable, and nearly impossible to deal with. Before I managed to get things sorted out, I got angry at a military mess hall I saw on TV that had a sign that read “MESSHALL” without leaving a space in between the two words, grew very cross at a commercial for a talking teddy bear with the unlikely name of “Theodore J. Fairytale”, and became downright outraged at a handyman in another commercial for having a beard. I think I was mostly angry that he was trying to look like Richard Karn, but upon reflection, I think he might have actually been Richard Karn, in which case, he’s in the right, and I’m in the wrong. Later, I got pretty mad and barked at someone when she flipped to According to Jim and I saw Jim Belushi, but that has nothing to so with allergy-induced irritability. I just don’t like Jim Belushi at all.

The gas mask that my stepfather gave my nephew for Christmas might have seemed like an absurd gift but is probably actually pretty useful. My 15-year-old nephew is pushing six feet and 210 pounds, eats four pounds of potatoes at a single sitting, and can pick me up with ease now. If he didn’t have asthma, I’d be pretty scared of him right now. That mold can’t be easy on him either, and neither can be sitting in rooms with several people smoking, which happened a few times to me over the last few days and happens to him even more regularly. As soon as he gets used to wearing that gas mask around all the time so he can breathe without restriction, my nephew’s going to be a nigh-unstoppable behemoth. Besides, I would have thought having a gas mask was just plain cool at that age. When I was younger, I had a disarmed grenade that I picked up at an army surplus store, until my mom took it away and stashed it in her glove compartment, whereupon she forgot about it and spent the next few years regularly driving it across the Canada-US border.

One member of my family might have missed the point of the recent Michael Richards scandal, as evidenced by the asking of the question, “Did you see Kramer was on a talk show with those two niggers he insulted?” I don’t even know what to say here, except maybe that it’s not that they weren’t what he said they were; it’s more that he wasn’t supposed to call them what he did.

My mom takes pride in being an incredibly fast gift wrapper. She does a lot of it at work, and says she can wrap a gift faster than a credit card transaction can take place. I believe it. She’s good, and enjoys it enough that I can pawn off all my wrapping on her, including even gifts for her ex-husband. Sometimes she gets carried away, though. This year, she thought she was wrapping a pair of gloves for my nephew (which she’d already wrapped), and ended up accidentally wrapping an empty box and making the label out to him, which completely mystified him when he opened it. She covered by claiming the box was actually full of Christmas cheer, though, and I think it might have been his favorite gift, even though it was even weirder than the gas mask.

My little sister is the only girl I know who will forgive me for flicking a rolled-up ball of earwax at her head. I really have to commend her for that.

“No” means “no” to all women except old Greek ladies. To them, “No, thank you” means “Yes, please; I’d love a plate.” Every time I stay over at my sister’s house, her fiancé’s mom will ask if I want something to eat, I’ll politely decline, saying I’m already stuffed, and before I know it, she’s bringing me a plate full of food. As far as I know, until recently, the only English words she knew were “Eat, eat.” That woman crams food down my throat like I’m a goose she’s trying to turn into paté. Nice lady, though.

Old Greek men, however, don’t bother to close the bathroom door when they’re sitting on the toilet in the middle of the night, and that’s just not cool. On the other hand, I suppose that if you’ve got an old Greek lady constantly filling you full of food, it’s eventually got to come out, and I can see how the sheer frequency of bowel movements might lead to a relaxing of formalities. Still, ugh.

My mom and stepdad love long, pointless car rides. They once drove all the way to Maine just to buy a refrigerator magnet. If you ever get dragged along to Liquidation World in Smiths Falls and find a brand-new trade paperback mystery novel discounted to only $1.49 and the hero is a forensic entomologist of all things, that might be worth picking up for the ride back, as might be a reasonably priced package of beef jerky.

Before my sister’s restaurant opens up in the morning, there’s a girl who comes in to wipe up the tables and put out bowls of pretzels and peanuts, and she may be kind of cute and have a nice figure and may smile and give you little looks while you sip a coffee at the bar, but as soon as she says anything, it becomes suddenly apparent that she’s a little simple. So don’t even bother. You don’t want to be flirting with the retarded girl.

10 Responses to “Holiday lessons”

  1. 1 Scott


  2. I know the commercial you mean, and his name is actually Theodore James Bearytales. Yes, this haunts my memory, because every time I see it I want to throw my own head through the television.

  3. Scott: I don’t think I have anything to say about beards. Do you?

    SamuraiFrog: That’s an even worse name. Now I’m enraged again.

  4. Flirting with retarded girls is how I practice actual flirting. It’s like a trial run, but better, since you know the rejection doesn’t really mean anything.

    As you might have guessed, I have a beard.

  5. 5 Scott

    Peter: I think you misunderstood. My bearded exclamation was a celebration of you mentioning a beard, not a demand for more beard.

  6. Hey, Scott’s right! I did mention beards. Scott also has a beard, of course.

    Dan, the flaw in your theory is that the techniques that work on the retarded girls may not necessarily work on normal ones. You can get a retarded girl to let you rub her on the crotch by simply promising to buy her an ice cream cone, for example. You have to buy a normal girl the surf and turf and a good wine in a classy restaurant to get the same thing, and even that’s no guarantee.

  7. 7 Scott

    I’m currently beardless. I misplaced my beard a few days ago but I’m expecting to find it back in 3 weeks or so.

  8. Good point. I guess I should just settle for the ice cream. Because a normal girl’s always going to want to cuddle afterward, whereas the retarded girl will be too busy hysterically crying and asking me why I threw old milk at her to want me to stay.

    Well, I have to go pray now. A lot.

  9. By “Scott has a beard”, I referred not to his customary facial hair, but rather, to the poor woman he trapped in a cold, loveless marriage while vainly attempting to dispell the long-whispered rumours of his homosexuality.

    By “Dan Carlson’s going to hell”, I mean exactly that, however.

    More holiday lessons:
    The alarm clock in the guest bedroom where I sleep is set three hours fast, so that when I wake up and see that it says it’s past 11 a.m. and get up and go downstairs, thinking that I’ve overslept, I see that both the clock on the stove and the clock and the microwave read that it’s only 8 a.m., and I stand there blinking in confusion until someone comes along and puts a pot of coffee on for me.
    I can eat an entire peeled clementine in one bite, and my stepfather does not at all discourage this.
    There exists a Napoleon Dynamite 2007 calendar available for commercial sale, but I don’t know why.
    My family favours the celebration of Christmas less as a Christian holiday and more as a pagan winter solstice festival, complete with the burning of a yule log, the hanging of an upside-down Christmas tree, and the burning of a human sacrifice in a wicker man. I know that last one is more of a harvest festival tradition, but there’s really no bad time for it.
    At dinner tonight, my mother said something about her Pillsbury Crescent Roll being shaped like a turd. Then shortly afterward, she mentioned some place she knew where the dinner rolls were the size of a loaf of bread. But I conflated these two statements and thought she was talking about a turd the size of a loaf of bread. When she heard this, she laughed and laughed, she turned red-faced, her eyes started watering, and when she tried to start eating again, she kept laughing again and I thought she was going to choke. The lesson here is that my mom really likes a good poop joke.

  10. 10 Marlene

    Raffi Torres will one day bring it out of him, I guess.

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