Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Friday Blues

Buy More Stuff, Black Friday 2009
There are two types of people: Those who love Black Friday and those who hate Black Friday. I don't think there are many people out there who are indifferent to the event. For some it is the thrill of the hunt, the big kick-off to the wonderful holiday season. Personally, I can't think of any item I want so badly that I would be willing to stand in a parking lot at three-o'clock in the morning waiting for some store to open. I love a bargain as much as the next girl, but Black Friday is pretty much my idea of hell. This year Black Friday is getting an even earlier kick-off with some stores starting on Thanksgiving day. You can actually pull an all-nighter of shopping at Walmart.

All the ads, all the deals, all the bru-ha-ha gives me an anxiety attack -- but the Target woman in the red jogging suit with high heels raises my blood pressure about five points every time I see her. Who came up with this ad? Shout out to Target: That woman makes me want to get as far away from the freakin' store as possible. In fact, she makes me want to hide under the bed AND NEVER GO SHOPPING AGAIN. I thought after last year we'd seen that last of Target woman, but like the Chia Pet, she is back for the holidays in yet another incarnation. She makes the Burger King mascot look loveable and that guy totally gives me the creeps. As if the holidays aren't annoying and stressful enough, we have to watch an endless barrage of ads featuring this completely irritating woman. I guess Target wants to convince us that the real meaning of Christmas is competing with other shoppers for the really great deals, but somehow I doubt snatching that last mark-down out of your neighbor's hands is the true meaning of Christmas. Seriously, it REALLY isn't how I want to spend my holidays.

I worked retail sales on many a Black Friday, I really don't remember that many customers showing-up at these weird hours of the morning. When they did, it was just for the one really great item, which the store was usually taking a loss on. Yet stores insist on these crazy hours. Maybe it is just all be for all of the free media attention because EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN' year, you can depend on the media to run a blitz of stories on holiday mob scenes and the ensuing traffic jams.

There is holiday habit I picked-up from working retail: I finish most of my shopping BEFORE Black Friday. It's not because I am efficient, it is because I hate the shopping lunacy that accompanies the holidays. So, when Black Friday rolls around, I ignore the ads, sit back with a cup of coffee and hope to hell Target isn't running THOSE commercials.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Angels We Have Heard Get High

Vintage Angel

At an early age I was typecast as an angel for the annual church Christmas pageant. Such is the curse of having naturally blonde hair. I wasn't just blonde, I was a total white blonde, tow-head. So angelic were my looks, I actually circumvented the pageant age qualification for my first stint as an angel. Mom got me in under the wire, but I am sure it was my cute factor that won the role. There is nothing inherently wrong with being an angel it's just I had no hope of being anything other than an angel. Christmas would roll around, they'd announce pageant plans, and I when they would announce angels, I knew was an angel. Oh, I imagine some of the little girls playing livestock or cross-dressing shepherds would have been happy to trade places with me. The truth be told I had received more than one bitter glance from a brown haired angel-wanna-be.

Who could blame them? With me in the room they had no hope of being an angel. Looking back the only costume with any sort of pizazz was the angel. I got to wear a wreath of tinsel on my head and foil wings. We were Congregationalists, so not even the Wise Men got very flashy in our pageant. Congregationalists are just not a very flashy bunch. I guess it was the predictability of it all that annoyed me so much. I longed to be Mary. Everybody knew that aside from the plastic baby-doll Jesus, Mary was the star of the show. I would put a towel over my head and practice looking serene and pious, but I knew it wasn't going to happen. To this day I can recite the whole angel speech. If an angel drops out of the Christmas pageant, I can pick-up the role in a heartbeat. Whether it was church aisle, steps, or even from the balcony, I can do my angel bit. Once I even sang "Silent Night" from the balcony AS an angel.

BUT -- I wanted to be Mary.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The TSA: Terminally Sucking Airports

The New Reality with AirPort Security

Just when I thought flying couldn't get any worse, the TSA has managed to raise the bar on airport misery and passive-aggression. I am not sure what I did to make the airlines hate me so much (Whatdya' mean it's not about me?), but now the airlines have managed to make air travel EVEN worse. In order to fly you now have the choice of a full-body scan (provided the machine is working and the airlines are not short on staff that day) or a touchy-feelie pat down that promises to go further than your first boyfriend.

I already HATED flying and now I have serious concerns about ever flying again. In theory, I understand the pat-down and the scan thing. I understand that it is for my safety and blah-blah-blah, but I it kind of makes me want to take a shower. As usual, I fear the airport security's actual execution of the new policies. Although I am not thrilled about some stranger picking-up my boobs and having a look-see and what I could be hiding under there, and I really don't want to see my pubs on a body scan, but I have been hospitalized enough to have arrived at the point of shamelessness.

If the TSA cannot make flying more pleasant, at least maybe they could make it more efficient. Maybe they could combine the full body scan and/or pat down with my yearly physical so we could kill two birds with one stone and get that pesky PAP smear and mammogram out of the way at the airport, not to mention the complex records/ID exchange. I approach the doctor's office and flying with similar levels of dread, so I say we just streamline the whole damn thing.

It's just a thought. Rest assured: The airlines, like your doctor, are only concerned about your well-being. Let's just hope they don't start making us wear those funky backward robes, or the only people flying will be the terrorists. Then we could just solve the whole problem by getting all the terrorists into one place and one time, blowing themselves up, and just put the whole thing to rest. I don't know what the TSA would do then, but for now it seems to me that there is no place like home for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Was a Teenaged Christmas Tree

I am not a Christmas person. I am not sure why. Perhaps it was too, too many years of working retail and having the joy of the season sucked out of me by listening to Elvis on Muzak one too many times. Looking back, it began a long time before that. The very first Christmas that started getting on my nerves was in 1975. I was a senior in high school.

Long before "Glee", I was a "Gleek" - a dancing (not so good), singing (a little better) choir nerd. Little did we know it, but we were THE cutting edge on the whole show choir thing. They didn't have a name for this type of choir then, so we went by "swing choir", but I assure you we were fan-freakin'-tastic. Our official name was "The Modernaires", shortened to "Mods" (How cool were we?). Christmas was a busy time of year for the Mods. We entertained civic group after civic group throughout the Mid-West. If your group wanted us, they had better book us early. I have very little doubt that we set the standard for the show choir craze that now blazes across the nation. The highlight of our year was when we entertained at the Kiwanis Club and they gave EACH of us one of the best damn apples we'd ever had. Yup, we were THAT good!

One year the group did a tune from the musical "Mame" called "We Need a Little Christmas". Big damn dork that I was, I knew my sixties musicals backwards and forwards. To this day, if you need the lyrics to a sixties' musical, I am your girl. (Not surprisingly, I found this to be a completely under appreciated talent in adulthood. Go figure.) In case you spend the sixties listening to stuff like "The Doors" and "Rolling Stones", and completely missed the dazzling musicals of the period (For shame!), I shall provide a brief summary: In the musical, the song "We Need a Little Christmas" occurs sans tree, and instead a person (Agnes Gooch -- Mame's secretary) is decorated. It is one of the highlights of the play. Wishing to share my vast cultural knowledge with the rest of the Mods, I suggested we incorporate this into our own version. Guess who was tapped to portray a tree? Seriously, I am six feet tall -- who the hell else WOULD they have asked?

Of course, I was brilliant. The Mods wrapped garland around me, hung baubles and lights from my lofty boughs, and I daresay, the highlight of the show was when the Christmas lights blinking. It brought down the house. Many an actor is familiar with the acting school exercise of portraying a tree, but few are asked to actually BE A TREE in front of a live audience -- past the fourth grade, any way.

Despite some moron Modernaire consistently hanging ornaments on my ears which really itched, it was a fairly positive experience, but oddly coincides with the year I started hating the holidays. I have wracked my brain trying to find a psychological connection between the two, but have so far been unsuccessful. I do remember it being the year my distaste of the holidays began, as one of my band geek friends bought me a button that said "Bah Humbug". Still, I cannot quite connect the dots. Hopefully by exploring "Christmas Past" this season I can get to the bottom of this disdain.

Stay tuned for my fascinating (ENDLESS) tenure as THE Angel of Annunciation.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gift Giving for Guys

Goat Ears

I turned the television on this morning and not one, but two shopping channels were advertising their deal-of-the-day as a vacuum cleaner. Normally this would be a ho-hum experience for me, and I'd just change the channel. What I found so disturbing was how they were marketing the vacuum cleaners. Each channel had a female host telling EVERYBODY what a great Christmas gift this would make. For all of you guys reading this out there: Listen up and spare yourself from grief. I don't care how much you might like a shop vacuum or some other worthy item for your man cave as a gift, a vacuum is NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER a good gift for a woman. Frankly, that you might be a man and you might be thinking this makes me just want to slap you square upside the head. I don't care how practical and thrifty your spouse is, she does not want a vacuum for Christmas because it is not about the vacuum. When she opens that top-of-the-line suck-o-matic, or whatever brand you got her, she may smile and tell you how much she likes it but take it from me she is lying out her ass because she loves you no matter what kind of dumb gift you give her.

Now there was a time when the Bulldog and I were so poor that a broken vacuum cleaner and a holiday occurring at the same time may have inspired me to say something like: "I know we don't have the money. Let's just buy a vacuum cleaner. I don't need a gift." This is what I would call a BIG LIE. As you may have noticed, I am a woman who says what I mean and does not expect the Bulldog to figure-out what I want without flat out telling him. However, for some reason unknown to humankind, this does not always extend to a financial crisis, a holiday and a broken piece of practicality. However, I am going to let you in on a little piece of information: No woman wants a freakin' vacuum cleaner for Christmas EVER. No matter what we say, do or anything else, we do not want a vacuum cleaner. I don't care WHAT kind of vacuum cleaner it is, we don't want to see it sitting under the tree with a damn bow on it. Make your life easier and happier and don't even think about it. You can thank me later.

Somewhere, in the "Gift Giving Hall of Shame" is a giant poster of the husband of a very dear friend of mine we shall call "Daisy". Even though he should be ashamed, I will spare using his name here and simply refer to him as "Zorro". Long before I had straightened Daisy out on the fact that many (if not most) men suck at gift-giving, and the ones who don't are usually NOT to be trusted, my dear friend had hopes of receiving an inspired anniversary gift from her husband. Imagine Daisy's surprise when he blindfolded her and walked her into their backyard to show her the gift. Imagine the look on Daisy's face when Zorro removed the blindfold and she beheld a goat. That's right: A goat. Zorro got Daisy a goat for their anniversary. Now, unless you live in a third world country, this is generally regarded as a terrible gift. In fact, aside from giving your spouse an STD, it is difficult to imagine a worse gift. Then what did Zorro do to make a bad situation worse? He went and announced that he had named the goat after her.

Yet, Zorro accomplished what many men before him could not accomplish: He made purchasing a vacuum as a gift for a woman look like not such a bad idea.

Friday, November 5, 2010

How I Saved Halloween. Again.

I know I took a poll and fully intended to be a "Zombie Prom Queen", but I was the victim of catastrophic costume failure, which is sort of like a wardrobe malfunction with no publicly displayed private parts. After the blood spray turned brown, I went with red fabric paint to simulate blood. Everyone kept going on about how trick-or-treaters were going to show-up on Saturday, and blah, blah, blah. I thought the least I could do was scare the bejeebus out of them with the zombie make-up. I was doing a dry run prior to Halloween with the special zombie make-up from Mehron, which also failed. The gelatin stuff is supposed to melt under hot water, but I could only get some of it to melt. If I'd actually gotten it hot enough to melt, it would have been to hot to put on my face. I put the little dribble-drabble on my face. The teeny amount I applied to my face immediately started itching. What was I thinking? I am allergic to the tetanus vaccine, and I thought this stuff wouldn't bother me??? I rinsed it off, while wearing my zombie dress andbecause how can you mess up a Zombie dress??? Red paint started coming off everywhere, and by everywhere, I do mean EVERYWHERE. This is supposed to be permanent fabric paint, applied DAYS prior, and it was getting red stuff all over me, the house, the sink, the cats, EVERYWHERE. I gave-up. It was obvious the fates were not going to cooperate with celebrating Halloween on the wrong damn day. So, I drove a stake through the heart of the zombie (or whatever it is you are supposed to do to kill them) and went with Plan B. Listen up: The secret to a successful Halloween is ALWAYS having a Plan B.

Plan B was a devil dress that required only street(walker) make-up and a bundle of sass. I was the hit of the neighborhood. So many parents had their children pose for pictures with me I felt like I was a character at Disney World. Once again the pumpkin hearse was a giant success. Even though it looks pretty much the same way it did last year.

I hauled my new favorite Halloween item, who I call "Broomhilda" out onto the front porch where she cackled and stirred her misting cauldron.

Not to be outdone by Broomhilda (although she kinda' was) also making her Kelleywood debut was the "Flying Witch with Flashing Eyes".

Now you may be thinking: "Wow! You REALLY did save Halloween!" But this is NOT how I saved Halloween. This is how I REALLY saved Halloween (again):

Nine-year old Livy from across the street was dressed as a witch. However, poor Livy was hatless having left her witch hat at school. Guess who just happened to have a witch hat laying around the house, even though she'd already loaned one out already? If you guessed moi, you would be oh-so-correct!!! And THAT is how I saved Halloween (again).

Everyone had a great time. Except for Mildred-the-skeleton, who rumor has it NEVER has a good time. Even when she does have a hat.

Mildred the purple skeleton who NEVER has a good time.