Thursday, December 20, 2007
But Once A Year
I got an e-mail the other day that I think really captured the true spirit of the holidays.
"The best present on Christmas," it said, "is penis enlargement."
I couldn't put it better myself. It kind of gives a whole new meaning to the expression "stocking stuffer" doesn't it?
The e-mail came from a "Dr. Brandon Watson," who I suspect may not be a real person. I don't think he had anything to do with Sherlock Holmes' sidekick--"Watson, the game's afoot!"
(More like a foot-and-a-half, old boy....rim shot).
And I don't think this Dr. Watson is related to the guy who helped come up with the DNA model, along with Crick, but it does sound like the same field of study.
I guess this really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Maybe if one of the Christmas spirits had done this for old Ebeneezer Scrooge he wouldn't have been such a putz.
There's a Tiny Tim joke here, but I refuse to go that low--which makes me think of about six more jokes.
Oy, as Santa Claus likes to say.
So once again, the holidays are here. This will be my first one without either one of my parents, and we won't be doing anything in our house this year.
I was done in the basement last night and I saw the Christmas tree stand gathering dust in a corner.
I realized that even though putting up and decorating a Christmas tree has to be one of the most annoying, irritating, and frustrating rituals in the history of humanity, I miss not having one this year.
Even when my father was in the hospital last year we put up a tree. Now for the first time I can remember, I won't be discovering pine needles in the carpet for the next six months.
When we sell the house and I figure out where the hell I want to live, I'm going to get back to putting up a tree.
It's a pain, but there's nothing more uplifting than seeing a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Even Dr. Brandon Watson couldn't match that kind of pleasure.
On the way upstairs, I saw the red leash that once belonged to our family dog, Casey, and I found that upsetting. My mother loved Casey so much and, to be brutally, honest, I was pretty mean to that dog at times.
I could make a lot of excuses--bad health, immaturity, failing career--but it's all hot air. I was just taking my frustration out on a helpless animal.
All I can do is tell God I'm sorry and vow to be a better person. I think I'm going to stay out of the basement for a while, too.
I had another bit of a holiday dilemma at work the other day.
I was walking to my gym when I saw a legless man in a wheelchair holding out a cup for change and, just a few yards away, there were two men from the Salvation Army standing before a kettle. One of them was playing a Christmas carol on a horn.
So who gets my dollar? The legless man, so plainly in need, or the Salvation Army, which does good deeds for so many people?
It's Christmas time in the city.
I went with the Salvation Army; I guess they looked more official. I probably should have given them both a buck each and spared myself the hand-wringing and the guilt.
I'll take care of the legless man the next time I see him.
I'm behind on the holiday cards, naturally. The other day I had to walk several blocks to the main post office to pick up a package from my uncle and his wife in L.A.
The post office is on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park, which has become a Chinese neighborhood over the years.
I walked in the front door and saw a line of people snaking around the lobby and you know everyone there had some special story about their package, I mean, nobody was going to buy a book of stamp and leave, so it meant that I'd be on that line well into 2008.
May Your Days Be Merry and Bright
Then I saw a special window reserved for people picking up packages--like me. I raced over there and got on line behind a Mexican fellow and his two buddies.
"Is the right line for packages?" I asked, ever the paranoid.
"Si," he said, pointing to the window with the big No. 5 on it."Cinco."
All right. Instead on the Dante's Inferno line, I'm in the express lane for the classy customers. I never went to Studio 54 during the disco debacle, but I'm sure getting in there felt a lot like this--only without the stamps.
Our postal clerk was a middle-aged Asian woman, who, like my friend on line, had a limited grasp of English.
It fascinates me how New York reels in people of such varied cultural backgrounds and forces them to live and work together.
My new friend was picking up the package. The clerk opened the window on her side, slid the package into the no man's land that exists between the post office and the customer and gestured at the fellow.
"Open window," she said, "open window."
The Mexican fellow tried to do that, but inside of sliding the window up, he was trying to pull it out.
"Open window," the clerk insisted.
He said something that I believe meant "that's what I'm trying to do, lady," and then added "puta," which will you get on the naughty list in a heartbeat if Santa heard you say it.
Luckily the clerk didn't hear him, and I doubt she would have understood anyway. The man's buddies chuckled softly and the guy looked at me to see if I understood. I smiled, he got his package, and they all left.
I got my gift, which turned out to beautiful blanket that my uncle's wife made. It is now on my bed keeping my aging butt warm on these cold winter nights.
I've been going to mass once a week at Trinity Church lately. I like the priest who conducts the service. I believe he's from Africa, though I am not certain. Whatever, he always gives a nice sermon and welcomes people of all faiths to join in.
The church is especially beautiful at this time of the year and I actually received communion for the first time in ages.
During Wednesday's sermon, the priest--I've got to get his name--was speaking to us when a cell phone went off.
There's a sign at the front door telling visitors to switch off their mobile phones, so I and a few others looked around the church wearing our "who's the idiot?" scowls.
It was the priest.
Yep, our spiritual leader had to reach under his vestments and pull out the old Blackberry right in the middle of the service.
He apologized profusely, saying he was on call, then switched the little bugger off.
"I'm mortified," he said. "Just pretend you didn't see this."
No problem, padre. I've gotten a lot of comfort and joy from your sermons, so I can easily overlook a cell phone snafu.
I came home on the subway tonight and two young men were playing an instrumental version of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" on the platform. That's one of my favorite carols and they did a nice job with it.
A man was walking through my car on the 3 train tonight, loudly invoking Christmas as he asked for money. I didn't give him anything, as I found him a little too aggressive.
"God bless all the people who gave money," he said, "and God bless all the people who didn't."
That's a nice thought. As soon as he left the car, a woman got on the train and began her spiel for money. The panhandlers can come fast and furious on some nights, especially around December 25. It's a series of nightclub acts
She talked about her kids were hungry, and how ashamed she was asking us for money. I don't know if her story is true, but I gave her a handful of coins anyway.
I'm going to be running around a lot with the family this holiday season, so I wanted to make sure I got my Christmas message out.
I doubt if I'll have time for blogging until January, so I'll take the opportunity now to wish all of you out there a happy holiday and a prosperous new year. Let's make it a good one, without any fear.
And good night, Dr. Brandon Watson, wherever you are.