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JWR 3.40 - Christmas and All That


God, I hate Christmas shopping so much.  I put too much pressure on myself, I think.  I donít want to end up giving a lame gift because I know, when I get lame gifts, I remember...forever.  All I do to prep is make a list of who Iím buying for and then I go to my usual stores: Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, the mall, Shopko, Target and K-Mart.  Those last three I like because you can find good gifty things there, like candle holders and other stuff.


I went to Toys R Us, but, mark my words, I will never eeeeever go back to that piece of shit store.  They remodeled within the last year or so.  As I walked around the store, I kept wanting to pull aside every employee I saw to say, ďThis is the stupidest layout for a store I have ever seen.Ē  Most stores have rows of shelves running one direction.  Maybe thereís a break with a single row running perpendicular to the norm to better separate different areas.  Fine, I can deal with that, but it still pisses me off when Iím trying to cut straight through the store and have to detour around the odd shelf with candle holders on it.  Toys R Us has sections marked off by very tall shelves at right angles with shorter shelves within the section placed diagonal to the right angle shelves.   I understand the concept of this: they do it to make you see more the the product as you walk through this maze.  This wouldnít be so bad except the aisles are narrower than they should be so thereís room for only one cart.


And unfortunately people are extremely shopping cart rude, especially at Christmas time.  When I go Christmas shopping, I donít take a cart.  Period.   And personally, Iím a gentleman when I walk around aisles.  When Iím walking and someone comes out the end of an aisle with a cart, I stop.  People, being so stupid, should slow down when they exit an aisle because, especially in gay toy stores, children like running around, and you canít see around those corners.  But people are stupid and come out of there fast (ooh, shit, I saw an old woman in one of those Rascal carts almost smash a small kid in the face with the handlebars today at Samís) and when they do that, I stop because they were obviously in a hurry, so I try to let them go first.  But they then suddenly realize how dumb they were being and they then stop, sticking half way out into the aisle and kind of look down or just away.  So, I walk past shaking my head, usually, I realized at some point today that I began saying things not so under my breath as Iíd walk by.  Non-Christmassy things like, ďfucking idiot.Ē


Toys R Us carries a bunch of shit.  Itís the worst store in the world.  Between getting stuck behind inconsiderate assholes, mumbling at other inconsiderate assholes, and catching annoying bits of conversation between employees about how Sally never gets stressed out at work (understandable if you consider the difficulty in pointing out where the Bratz section is and the high standards Toys R Us ensures in its customer service, right on par with McDonald's), I tried looking for toys for my nine, three and one year old nieces.  And I just couldnít bring myself to touch anything in the store.  The toys were annoying.  We had cool toys when I was young, but I wonder if I canít find anything for them because Iím not a kid anymore.  Really, I could just give Legos every year and the kids would like it, but I think I can do better.  The toys were annoying because there were large sections of stupid toys like Bratz and Britney Spears dolls which are, in my humble opinion, contributing factors to the brattiness of one of my nieces.  If youíre nine, should you wear a shirt you have to pull down over your belly every time you move or pants you have to constantly hitch up because theyíre low cut?  No.  But if your doll does, then you want to.  That wasnít an example of bratty behavior, but itís just as annoying.  Itís like listening to someone constantly sniff their nose.  If they just blew it, theyíd be okay.  Well, if you just wore regular pants, you wouldnít have to keep hitching them up.


Anyway, I kept getting more pissed off and by the time I was walking around a back corner of the store and had to physically move some womanís cart who was too busy rubbernecking to notice the stupid placement of her cart that blocked the way, then went down--tried to go down--an aisle only to find it wholly blocked by three carts and five people, I decided it was high time to get out of there.  I decided to never come back when I was first stuck behind an old couple walking side by side blocking the whole aisle and then almost getting run into by some chick who worked there and either wasnít watching where she was going or more likely didnít care.


One day, Iím just going to get a cart and block an aisle, leave it in the way while I study shelves, then put a bunch of crap in it and leave it somewhere in the store, in the way, of course, and take off.  You know how some people have pleasant shopping experiences?  I donít.  Itís a chore.  I enjoy the end result, having the thing I went to buy, but getting there sucks.


I should start shopping earlier.  Iíve been doing a little online shopping and, hopefully, will get what I ordered in time.  Even online shopping sucks because I still donít know what to get people.


Thatís not what itís supposed to be like.  You shouldnít be walking through stores, getting madder and madder with each jerk you have to dodge.  After the Toys R Us fiasco, I tried to go to the mall and was just as annoyed there despite there being no carts to block aisles and such.  But still, urge to kill rising.  You shouldnít walk through a toy store and want to damage property and people.


I tell you what.  Next year, Iím doing all my shopping early.  In like October just because November is too close to shopping season.  And you know what that means: no gifts like CDs or DVDs.  Nothing that person could potentially get for themselves.


While searching for the right gifts, I came up with some good ideas for some of my friends.  For example, I know my friend Jon is interested in World War II, the Maple Leafs, the Cleveland Browns, his native land of Canada, and so forth.  But his lady friend, I was drawing a blank.  I mean, I know her, I talk to her, weíre good friends, but I couldnít think of anything.


I tell you what, though, the benchmark of a good present, in my eyes, is, after you buy it, do you sit and think to yourself, man, Iíd like to keep that for myself and get this person something else?  Thatís how I judge great presents, personally.


One of my friends, though, I couldnít think of what to give her.  Every place I looked, I had her in my mind, and not a thing spoke her name to me.  I over thought it and had to apologize because I ended up getting nothing and agonizing at every store, online and in person.


I can tell you, one of the worst gift ideas are Christmas ornaments.  I think ornaments are the least fun gift next to socks.  Unless they are the socks that are rainbow colored with individual toes--those are fun gifts.  But, hey, hereís a glittery bulb you can hang on your tree for another week and forget about it for another eleven and a half months.  Any Christmas themed gift is kind of counterproductive, in my opinion.


Christmas Eve my family got together at my parentsí house.  Itís fun like it used to be when I was a kid.  For several years it kind of sucked because I was the youngest and I was getting older and there wasnít anything entertaining about it.  Weíd all gather, eat, open gifts and leave.  But in the past few years, people have been having kids and other people moved back to town, and now we have six kids under ten and itís great, because the secular Christmas celebration is about kids, and getting them what they want and seeing their faces when they open their stupid gifts, despite what I said earlier.


After dinner, we all gathered in the living room (about fourteen of us, I guess) and the oldest kid passed out gifts.  And you know kids, they get all flustered when things donít go quite right, just like adults, I guess.  If people are milling about or not paying attention, they get a pissy.  So, once the gifts are passed out, they decide that presents should be opened from youngest to oldest.  Again, you know kids, who often find the ribbons and boxes just as, or more, entertaining than the actual gift.  My boss was telling me a couple years ago it took his kids two weeks to open all their gifts because they started playing with each one and didnít get around to the next one until way later.  At my Christmas, people were hurrying the kids to open the gift, show everyone, and then open the next one, something my one-year-old niece has to work on.  By the time they got half way through everyone, the whole process degenerated and I was waiting for someone to grab control and get the gift opening operation back on track.  A couple points in the night, I kept thinking how happy I was that I had a beer in my hand and one in my belly.


Christmas evening I went to a friendís house and we exchanged gifts which I enjoyed more for two reasons: 1) it donít take too long and 2) your friends know what to get you so you know itís going to be an enjoyable evening.  Then you can eat some Hamburger Helper and drink some Guinness and watch a couple flicks.


Well, Christmas is over, and itís just as well.  New Yearís is coming and that means that a new year will be birthed.  And that means that there will be all these reviews of the previous year, and am I the only one sick to death of all this year in review shit?


I donít know about you, but I have this thing I like to use, itís called a memory.  I use this memory to remember things that happened previously, say, over the past year.  I saw they were showing the top 40 videos of the year on either VH-1 or MTV, I canít tell the difference anymore.  First off, I wasnít aware that they even made forty videos this whole year.  I know there was ďHey Ya!Ē and then there was a Puffy one and probably a Britney Spears one and Christina Aguilera one where she looked even skankier (and I just saw a clip of her ďGenie in a BottleĒ video, and I miss that extremely cute girl as opposed to the McNasty she is now.  Looking at her reminds me of this one girl I used to see at Parkside.  She was this pretty girl with blond hair, who wore these well-thought out outfits that matched and everything.  She took care to look good, absolutely.  Each semester sheíd get a little bigger and bigger.  Sheíd always look okay, but sheíd just keep getting bigger and bigger.  Strange.).


Every news network is doing year end recaps and I find that even more strange.  See, I learned a few things from the 40 top videos, like how bad mainstream music keeps getting, but the news recaps just recapped the news that you already saw.  If they did something like report the news that was pushed to the side the two days after they caught Saddam, that would be worth it.  But thatís a big problem with the four or five cable news networks.  They not only repeat their top story for a solid day, they all report the same story.  I swear, half a day after they caught Saddam, I flipped by CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and CNN2 and all were showing Saddam getting checked for lice and tonsillitis.


And didnít I see a woman reporter get in a wooden reproduction of the spider hole to show us what it was like?  As if we had any trouble imagining how small the dirt hole in the ground was.  As if I need a grown woman explaining how he got into it as she got into the reproduction and then explained in the real spider hole, it was fully enclosed unlike the reproduction so the TV audience could see a cross section.  Wow.  I though the announcers on wrestling talked down to the viewers.  Obviously Aaron Brown and Jim Ross went to the same broadcasting school.


But I digress.  Happy fucking new year.




Just take your swing.


Copyright © 2003 John Lemut