Monthly Archives: December 2005

Shopping Again!

Yes, it’s true. Even after my vacation o’ shopping it turns out we’re not done. But this time I knew it would be quick. After all, I had to work the next day. Just another miracle chalked up to the magic of Christmas, I’d say.

I’ll begin by stating that what transpires next happens often. Usually I can assuage all parties involved with a quick quip and winning smile. But sometimes all the good cheer I have left in my blackened heart gets left on the tarmac and my winning smile wanes and quick quips quiver. I tend to enjoy those times best.

I’m standing off to the side while Terry searches for the perfect gift to complete a basket she’s spent more time assembling than FEMA does responding to an emergency.

She really puts much thought into the smallest details. She works hard making sure each item fits not only the personality of the receiver but also serves up a dollop of whimsy. While she frets over each detail I can usually be found trying to teach hikus to cats. We each do what we’re best suited for.

Suddenly, I feel someone looking at me. I glance over and it’s a kid. Kids often stare at me. It’s not that they recognize me from wanted posters (at least I hope not) it’s always the same thing. The shaved head.

Some kids just stare and refuse to make eye contact. To the point of blending into the racks with the goods. Which lends itself to some comedy when we’re in a hard goods area. But others are louder about their discovery. And this was one of those kids.

“He has no hair!” The kid screams yanking on his mother’s coat. “That guy has no hair!”

I always love that moment between the kid saying it and the mother wondering what the hell the little brat is yelling about. I always make sure to look right at the parent as their head swivels around trying to figure out just what their little spawn is barking about.

The moment they make eye contact with me is priceless. Their face goes ashen before becoming very festive shades of red. They quickly drop eye contact and try to stop their kid from pointing out the obvious. I love when they pull the kid away saying it’s not polite or something with the kid still staring at me. I’ve had kids pull binoculars off the shelf to make it easy to keep an eye on me throughout the store.

“Stop or you’ll give the guy a complex.” The mother says to her still blabbering kid.

A complex? Me? Peshaw, you say! How in the world could this kid give me a complex? After all, I shaved my head on purpose, for a reason and, although no one believes it, sober.

Besides, if I didn’t have all that going for me, I’m sure I’ve forgotten more booger jokes than that kid knows. Complex my Golgi, you staring snot.

I engage the kid with my normal answers, “I don’t? I did when I left home!” “I must have left it on my other head.” “It shrinks in the rain so I left it home.” Trust me, as stupid as they sound, that’s kid ‘A’ list material. If I could work in boogers I’d be touring schoolhouses country wide and making a fortune.

But this kid kept breaking away from his mother and approaching me. I knew he was curious so I asked if he wanted to touch it. That usually elicits one of two reactions: 1) they run straight to their therapist or 2) they can’t wait to place their sticky little hands all over it but don’t.

This kid leaned towards being brave until I leaned down. He froze. Which is a good thing because his hands smelled like candy canes and poop.

He stepped back and kept talking about my head. And try as his mother might, she just couldn’t get him to shut up about it. I stood there smiling waiting for her to do what any other sane mother does: leave. Pack up the brood and skitter further into the store. But I guess she just had to look at the laughing Santa with the glowing eyes.

She’s now ignoring the situation hoping I’ll go away. What she doesn’t understand is, from my experience, unless I satisfy the kid one way or another, this will escalate until he’s screeching across the entire store if he thinks he sees the top of my head. Which is one reason I stay out of lighting stores.

I can tell I’m going to have to close this curious chapter in his over-sugared life. I take a step towards him the next time he screams,

“You have to see this. He has no hair!”

I lean down and smile. He alternates between looking in my eyes and scouring my head lice he’s taking his final exam at Phrenology U. His mother pretends to be enthralled by a dancing Santa while I say,

“No, I have hair. I just kill them before they grow.” The mother stops the Santa from dancing. The kid looks at me in anticipation. “Just like I did to all my kids.”

I watch them leave a trail of shivering Santa’s, shimmering tinsel, and rocking reindeer as she whisks her children towards a kinder, gentler, safer holiday season as far away from me as possible. And, really, that’s all I ever wanted.

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A New Sport!

Today is a very bad day in the history of New England weather. It’s one of those icy, rainy, snowy, sleety, sucky days. So by bad you can see I mean normal.

But that didn’t stop me. I had to go to work so, at the appointed time, I left my warm, dry, and cable connected house. And pretty much immediately invented a new sport.

You may remember I live on a couple of hills. Big hills. Hills that make 4-wheel drive automobiles whimper. I hardly ever give them a moments thought unless I’m walking up them. When that happens I really don’t think much about them either. I’m thinking more on the lines of,

“Boy, it would suck to have a heart attack and die here.”

Today I had my first thought like that while going down the hill. It happened when I hit what I thought was a small patch of ice. I, expertly I might add, traversed that patch with the grace and dexterity of someone who knows if he doesn’t do a good job at this time things can go wrong very quickly.

So, flush from the wind driving into my face and my recent lack of injury, I continued down the hill. And proceeded to prove that grace and dexterity is pretty much a hit or miss affair at times like this.

Going back deep to the ground wasn’t bad (the ground stopped my fall) but the moment I realized I was in motion while on my ass I had a moment to think,

“Well, this is going to be an interesting way to go down the hill.”

I’m sliding 5, 10, 15 yards and starting to get into it. I’m now an ass luger! The best in my weight class I’m proud to announce. My pants are already as wet as they can be and I doubt more ice can fit up my ass so I say,

“The only thing that can go wrong is if a car decides to come the other way.”

First you say it. . .

The truck sees me and the driver laughs. I laugh too leaning to my right to luge into the curve of the street. The driver pulls over to his right and is still laughing. I stopped laughing because I realized one thing, I could indeed fit more ice up my ass.

So, about 30-35 yards into my slide I come to a halt. I’m almost to the door of the truck and the guy is still laughing. He rolls down is window and says,

“Sorry for laughing.”

“No problem.” I said. “But the least you can do is give me a high five for my Olympic quality ass luge.”

He laughs harder as he opens the door and reaches his hand out. We slap paws and I start getting up. He waits until I’m standing before pulling away.

I stand there for a moment awaiting my award for this glorious run when I figured out one thing. It’s such a new sport with such a small fan base the best award you’re going to get is going to melt out of your ass.

I won!

But, as you’d expect, it wasn’t easy.

Terry enters contests so that means I enter contests. She sends me the contest, I enter, I forget I entered. The forgetting part is made easy because, although Terry’s won everything from a laptop to over a grand in groceries, I, on the other hand, have won a cooler. It’s a very nice cooler but I can’t use it to download porn. But, because I do what I’m told if the wages of failure are death, I continue to enter contests.

This morning the phone rings before it was time to open. I only answer it before opening (and sometimes after) if it’s someone I know. Terry often calls me early because she knows it may be the only uninterrupted time we speak during the day. This time it wasn’t her nor anyone I know. The caller ID burped a radio or TV stations call sign.

I thought about not answering because the last two times I’ve had media contact it was about murders. One wanted my opinion, as a spokesman for the industry, about the woman who put her husband into a freezer and left it in storage. And no, they didn’t use my quip about her liking to keep her assets frozen.

The other time they tried to get me to confess to a murder that I assure you I didn’t commit. I was with you at the time of the killing and that’s our story. Right? Yeah, I knew you’d remember.

So I thought about passing this time but either a sense of boredom or the fact that I could be in on another breaking story (which I, again, did not commit. See above for alibi) caused me to lift the receiver.

“Hey!” The jolly voice spilled his holiday cheer in my ear. “Is this Chris Zell?”

“Yeah.”

“Chris! This is Shecky Specklebaum of the ‘Z 92 Holler Daze extravaganza team and you’re live on the air.”

“Did you say holler daze?”

“Yes! We’re in the ‘Z 92 Holler Daze team so what would you expect?”

“A little less volume crashing into my head this early in the morning.”

“It’s just that I’m so excited, Chris. How about you?”

“Yeah. Excited.”

“Come on, Chris! Where’s your Holler Daze spirit?”

“At the bar around the corner. Is there something I can do for you?”

“No, but there’s something I can do for you! I’m calling to tell you you’re the ‘Z 92 Holler Daze grand prize winner of this hour!”

“Cool.”

“That’s all you can say, Chris? Where’s your excitement on being a ‘Z 92 Holler Daze grand prize winner?”

“I guess I’d be a more excited if you didn’t call during my proctology exam.”

Now I know I’ve been using a lot of proctology jokes recently but let me tell you, they never fail to work. I could hear murmurs in the background. I’m sure someone was running towards the dump button. No pun intended. Or maybe it was. But you’ll never know.

“Well, uh, do you want to know what you’ve won, Chris?”

“Yeah, that’d be a treat right about now.”

“You won the ‘Z 92 Holler Daze hourly grand prize of a gift certificate to the corporate name here mall in the amount of ‘Z ninety two dollars and fifty cents! How about that, Chris?”

“That’s great. Hold on, will ya?” I turn my head slightly away from the phone. “Hey doc, will you take a mall certificate in lieu of my co-payment?” I pause awaiting the response to the non-existent doctor. I turn my head back to the phone. “Cool. Now I’m excited because I’m not going to have to pay for this visit. Thanks. Do you have to send it to me or can you send it to the DOCTOR.”

I squealed a little at the end for the dramatic effect and I’m sure it got my desired affect across. It took a moment for the DJ to come back but he never lost his ‘Z 92 Holler Daze cheer.

“I guess so, Chris. You’ll have to talk to my producer but I’m sure we’ll do whatever makes you more comfortable.”

“Thanks. But I’m sure you know what’ll make me more comfortable right about now.”

“And there you have it, Chris Zell, another happy ‘Z 92 Holler Daze winner. Hold on Chris and we’ll get your doctors address.”

I get put on hold and hear an ad for the corporate name here mall. I sure bet they’re happy to be following that bit of radio. A young and nervous producer comes on and tells me they have to send it to me. I tell her that’s no problem. I’ll just give it to the doctor myself during my next visit. I could hear the trepidation in her voice as she confirmed the information she had for me. At the end I could hear one last question lingering in the air.

“Can I ask you if you’re really at the doctors?”

“Can I ask you if I really won something?”

“Yes, you did.”

“Good. Then only one of us is lying.”

I can hear her laugh and relax at the same time. We bid each other a happy Holler Daze and I sit back and bask in the glow of a ‘Z 92 Holler Daze winner. Which is a glow only two ticks lower than not being at the proctologist.

As an aside, I do not know where this radio station is. The 92.5 station where I live isn’t wacky and isn’t running a contest like this. It’ll be interesting to get this prize just to see what states drivers I tortured on their way to work.

Vacation Planning

Welcome to Vacation Planning for the Moron. Let’s get right to it, shall we? You should never schedule a vacation if you haven’t:

1) Planned your exit strategy to a location that begins in Saint and ends in Stupor. It’s not all that important if you don’t like places that begin with the word Saint, you can go to Monmouth, New Jersey for all I care as long as sometime during your vacation someone says to you,

“Wow! I can’t believe you’re still sitting. Here, let me get you another one.”

2) You can partially ignore rule one and spend time in your own backyard puttering, fixing, reveling in the glow of your own homestead. You can safely ignore a section of rule one because, after all, each of those tasks mentioned above will entail some level of stuporability.

3) Never plan to ignore any of rule one if your vacation falls between the day after Thanksgiving and the last possible shopping day before Christmas.

4) Although you can modify rule one during rule two, rule three is inviolable. If you break rule three you will end up shopping until you to fall into a stupor-like state without the benefit of a blinding headache each time you blink just to prove you’re still alive.

So, please, heed my seasoned advice by following these simple rules. I know from whence I speak due to my flagrant disregard of these rules. Trust me when I say I paid dearly for my transgression. I knew right away mistakes had been made. But, by then, it was too late. I was sucked into the vortex of false holiday cheer and flat line brain waves.

The shopping began with a burst right out of the vacation cannon. And it didn’t take more than the first five songs to overlap in my head for me to realize my life would change forever. I was drawn back into a time when I was a kid visiting some spinster aunt with all her gewgaws strewn throughout her house that, as I was warned, would turn to dust if I dared glance at them. I was back to my childhood blindly shuffling through a haze of gingham and chamomile tea.

While standing as still as one can while being jostled by eighteen people reaching for a glow-in-the-dark Rudolph turd lawn ornament I figured out that there are only five Christmas songs in the entire realm of Christmas songs. I also realized that these songs should be pumped into mental institutions twenty-four hours a day because they work better than lithium. I can also state, without fear of recrimination, that every Christmas song was sung, yes, all five of them, by Frank Sinatra and some woman using so many vocal gymnastics she sounded like a dyslexic stutterer trying to sell seashells by the seashore in the rain in Spain while subliminally salivating sushi.

I also learned that, no matter how disinterested you appear, someone will want to talk to you about the chocolate fountain (‘You can also use CHEESE!’ the box screams. No really, I swear the box was screaming at me) you just happen to be standing next to due to the eight cart pile up in aisle seven. I was also warned by a festively festooned employee that is considered bad holiday juju to threaten to stick the magical fountain up someone’s ass.

But, we stuck it out and I figured the worst of my vacation was over. After all, what could be worse than spending the first three days of your vacation shopping?

“Chris,” I hear my love call in a manner that can be best be described as blood-curdling. Even the cats hid. I’m seasoned enough to ascertain that sound as one that points in only one direction. I close my eyes in silent prayer. “The computer is broken.”

Yes, my friends, I have found the second level of vacation hell and it circles directly though tech support in Bangalore. After spending half my vacation shopping (and getting none of my own done) I spent the next half alternating between banging my head on the floor to banging my head on the desk. To say that it was plodding would be an insult to the wooly mammoth.

But, after three days and the help of a close, personal friend who talked me out of starting a suicide cult, we got one computer to do what two did a couple of days before (namely, get on the internet through a router). In a testament to my calm nature never once did I raise my voice or attempt to reach though the phone and strangle the tech support fellow. I did speak in a firm and commanding volume one time when I told the gentleman that what he was telling (that the router wasn’t made to rout two computers) was, to quote, ‘patently false.’ Which, as you can probably figure out, was my editing down all of the bad words I know into a succinct two word phrase.

I don’t want you to think we didn’t have any fun. Oh, we had fun. But, after the first half of my vacation I’m sure you could figure out that a proctological exam could be misconstrued as fun. And, if you haven’t figured it out yet, that was the next butthole of hell. To edit out the icky parts, let me just say that you should never go to a dyslexic proctologist. Sure, it’s not as uncomfortable, but it sure tastes shitty.

See? Even after all this I can still crank out my little jokes. We also found a little time after my fun with tech support to go out to dinner. We went to this place we enjoy because the food is good and few people we know go there. Of course, if you’ve read this far, you have to assume something would go wrong with this. You know what? You’re a smart one.

About five minutes after we finish eating this guy I know as a guy I know in the way one would know a guy whose name you don’t know found me and rushes up to me in a manner that can be best described as enthusiastically. He had some news and wanted me to have it now. I’m not kidding that, in his haste, he turned a few old ladies wigs askew.

“Hi, Chris.” He began. I nodded and mumbled the way I do when I don’t know someone’s name or don’t want to talk to them or they approach me. He couldn’t wait to tell me that he and his absent wife (who provably wasn’t hanging in some bar) just had a baby. I congratulate him and expect him to spew out the rest. It’s not that I don’t like to ask questions, it’s that I don’t like to ask redundant questions. Why should I fill some psychotic need he has to have answers correctly for probably the first time in his life? You’re an idiot, live with it. Even stick bugs fuck (and for longer than you if science can be believed) so get over yourself.

Here’s some advice for the future parents of the world, just tell use the kids name, sex, length, weight and anything else you’ve fooled yourself into thinking we care about. Don’t make us drag it out of you. It’s annoying and everyone hates that (for more on my view of babies, http://home.comcast.net/~czell/babies.htm)

But this guy didn’t know how to play by the rules. He wanted me to go through the insipid series of questions. Sorry, but I’m not here to boost your ego. I’m here to drink myself into my vacation. But I can tell he’s not going to leave until I ask him questions about this little shit machine that, if my luck holds out, I’ll never actually see.

“So,” I smile watching him load the answers into his mouth. “What’s the circumference of its head?”

What kind of father are you? Don’t really know your kid, do you? I sent him on his way to do further research and not bother me until he has my information.

As my vacation wound down I laid on the couch and relived the moments. I still had a dull buzz in my ears from Christmas songs; my shin still stung from the time the lady banged her cart into my shin because she thought I was going to get the last crystal bidet; so, as vision of going back to work bounced in my head I heard,

“Chris, the other computer is fucking up!”

The vacation circle of hell is complete.