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A White Elephant Never Wears The Same Stripes (Family Christmas)

A White Elephant Never Wears The Same Stripes (Family Christmas)

My family has a holiday tradition that we have religiously followed for as long as my siblings have had children. Since we were all buying presents for said children we decided that the gifts for the rest of the family would be part of a white elephant exchange.

Now, while we all thought that was a stroke of genius, I can’t quite recall whose idea it was.

I will admit that while it was not mine, I was quite happy with the decision. I was living in Northern Virginia at the time and spending way to much money on luxury items such as food and housing.

The tradition has become quite enjoyable and now includes all of the children. They did not want to miss out on the fun. Yes, we consider the verbal abuse of each other, in a structured setting of course, quite fun. Doesn’t everybody?

The gift exchange has become a time honored tradition. The rules however are not so much of a tradition but more of a yearly agreement.

I am pretty sure we have not played by the same set of rules in any one year let alone consecutive years.

Some of you may suggest “why don’t you just look up the rules on wikipedia or google them.”

For you I would have two responses: 1) Wikipedia, really, are you nuts? You are asking to crowdsource information on something no two people can seem to agree upon. 2) Where is the fun in that? Sure we spend at least a half hour negotiating the rules before we start the exchange but that only adds to the fun.

Among the usual topics for negotiation are determining who goes first. Yes, it sounds simple and we do draw numbers but after that the process is pretty much a crapshoot. We are a very creative family .

“ Is the lowest number first or last?”

“A reasonable question. Let’s do the opposite of last year. Does anyone remember what we did last year?”

“Do we weight the numbers with the age of the person and if so do the older or younger persons have more weight?”

Now these are the less imaginative of the ideas , with any large group of people the suggestions can get quite outrageous.

“Can we consider birth order?”

“We already discussed age of the person so we have covered that.”

“No, I mean by the month. Which month you were born in, so like January comes before February.”

“Interesting idea, So you being born in January has nothing to do with that idea?”

“Of course not.”

“Nice try. Next.”

“What are the rules of stealing?”

“Rules, You mean is it punishable by law? If so I am not sure you understand the concept of the white elephant.”

No, I mean is there a restriction on the number of times a a particular person can steal?

“You’re still angry at me for stealing your waffler last year aren’t you?”

“That was two years ago. Of course not.”

“There is not a restriction on the number of times anyone can steal.

There is only a restriction on the number of times an item can be stolen.”

“What if it’s a really good item? Shouldn’t everyone have a chance to steal it?”

“No. That would be a disaster of biblical proportions.”

“Ok, how about no gift can be stolen more than 3 times.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

There is a limit on the amount spent on the gift. That was set a few years ago and probably will not be up for renegotiation until all of the birds have flown the coop and are on their own. I for one hope that my fifteen year-old niece will be working on a doctorate.

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Black Friday: Twas The Night Before Christmas

Black Friday: Twas The Night Before Christmas

The wrapping paper has been cleaned up but the laughter is still unfurling around my holiday break.  I hope your holidays were as joyous as mine and that this last installment of my Black Friday series  help conclude your holiday with laughter.

 

“Black Friday: Twas The Night Before Christmas”……ooh I can feel the joy already…or perhaps its the rum…..

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
were toys on display including a vintage Mickey Mouse.
There were games, there were gadgets, displayed in glass cases.
The collector was wary and kept his guests at fifteen paces.

The collector had food and drink to serve in his lair.
He would bring out his Pong to show off with fanfare.
The party was happening and many carols they did sing.
Until a band of toys appeared and a door bell they did ring.

The collector opened his door and failed to see
a band of toys underfoot as they scurried with glee.
With a major their leader so authoritative and quick
I knew it was Matt Mason, gosh he was slick.

More rapid than beagles his bandits they came
He whistled and ordered and called them by name.
On, Jan! On, Stosh! The Robots there were two.
On Yo!, On Larry, and perhaps a cow who did moo.

On Major! On Batman, who joined in the fun.
To rescue their friend, a brand new Xbox one.
To the top of the shelf and back towards the wall
Steal away! Steal away! Steal away all!

There was noise, there was chaos as the the batman yelled things not so holy.
He had a right to be upset for he landed in the guacamole.
When their friend was collected and their mission near over.
They all made a getaway in Major Mason’s moon rover.

The party lay in ruins, guacamole tracked across the floor.
The collector was convinced he would collect toys no more.
The band was merry and oh such a sight
as they danced and they darted off into the night.

So let that be a lesson to toy collectors all
prepare for uninvited guests at your next christmas eve ball.

So I in my kerchief all snug in my bed
decided my vision was just a dream in my head.

I finished off my Scotch and curled up in a ball.
With thoughts of good cheer and a Merry Christmas for all!

Black Friday: The Gathering

Black Friday: The Gathering

I apologize for keeping my readers on the edge of their seats waiting for this the third installment of my Black Friday series. The great thing about writing is the reader doesn’t have to see me trying to keep a straight face while typing out that last sentence.

Without further ado I give you  “Black Friday: The Gathering (Vintage Vendetta)”

Larry had been moping all afternoon. Xena was gone and he could not fill the void left behind. No matter how he reconnected his pieces he still had a big gap somewhere.

Yo had to listen to Larry whine all afternoon and it was killing him. It was time for some action, besides the only lubricant he had only worked on Yo-Yo(s).

“All right Larry quit your belly aching. It’s clear you are not going along with my ‘there is another XBox just around the corner’ philosophy. Besides I admit you were right,  Xena had that certain whatever the French say she had.”

“A certain I don’t know,” replied Larry.

“Yea I don’t know either but you know what I mean,” said Yo.

“Um, sure.”

“My point is we need to go get her. You’re not the only one who had a narrow escape from that vintage collector Larry.”

“If I recall correctly his name is Vince,” said Larry.

“Vince? Like short for Vintage? Your kidding me,” exclaimed Yo.

“Hey I don’t make these names up . That’s some other guys job,” replied Larry.

“Well this Vince guy has put the fear of Mattel in a lot of old toys I know and quite a few would be willing to help,” said Yo.

“You don’t say. And you can round them up in a moment’s notice?” asked Larry.

“Yep,” said Yo as he winked. “They’re also living here on the down low.”

“How come I don’t know them?”

“ Because as a box Larry you tend to be, um how do I put this, mobility challenged.”

“Fair enough. So who are these toys?”

“I’ll tell you what. I will go round them up and introduce you to them,” replied Yo.

“Ok Yo. I’ll be here moping.”
 said Larry.

“Ok, but you better snap out of this funk by the time I get back or you won’t be able to inspire the other toys to march into the mouth of danger.”

“Mouth of danger?” asked Larry.

“Hey I don’t make up these metaphors. That’s some other guys job.” laughed Yo and added “I’ll be back.”

“Was that an Austrian accent?” asked Larry. But Yo was gone. I could have sworn that was an Austrian accent.

Yo soon returned leading a parade of refugee toys. Larry took one look and thought he was suffering from flashbacks. If he listened carefully he could have sworn he heard either Wagner or maybe the theme to the three stooges playing in the background.

“Form up on me everyone.” ordered Yo.

It was clear he was either getting into the proper spirit of the moment or suffering from delusions of grandeur. Larry was voting for the latter.

There was a clatter of chaos and then from under a pile of what appeared to be every popular toy of the 70’s the voice of Yo could be heard screaming “I meant literally folks.”

“I think that’s figuratively Yo,” shouted Larry.

“Yea, they know what I mean.”

“No, it’s obvious they don’t. That’s why you are currently buried by them.” replied Larry.

A few moments later the pile had broken up and had formed a nice neat line.
Strutting in front of the line, as much as a Yo-Yo can strut, was Yo.

“Alright Larry, let me introduce our volunteer army or what I like to refer to a Yo-Yo’s little helpers.”

“Yo, you are starting to suffer delusions of grandeur.”

“What? Grand Illusion?” I didn’t know you were a Styx fan?” asked Yo.

“Um, up until they became a love ballad smorgasbord but I meant that you are starting to let your ego run away with you. Besides, you make them sound like elves and that is not going to inspire fear in anyone let alone Vince the collector”.

“Vince the collector. Sounds like a hit man.” laughed Yo.

“Well it’s definitely scarier than Yo-Yo’s little helpers.”

“Ill give you that. We can come up with a name later. Let me introduce them to you. Starting from your left and proceeding to your right…”

“Yo, I’m a box of legos I have no hands.” interrupted Larry.

“Yea, but you know what I mean. This here is Major Matt Mason. He is an astronaut toy from the 60’s. 1966 I believe. “

“He looks to be in good shape considering his age,” stated Larry.

“Larry, may I remind you that your shape is a box and you don’t have a right to comment on the shape of others”.

“Yea, that’s fair Yo.  So what can he contribute to the effort?” asked Larry.

“Ahem, Let me answer that,” replied the Major as he step forward and saluted.

“I have years of space training at the Mattel Space Camp.” stated the Major.

“Well that’s nice Major but we won’t be going into to space,” replied Larry.

“Well I have a moon rover and a really cool Jet Pack that can move us along a zip line,” added the Major.

“Welcome aboard Major,” said a smiling Larry.

“Next we have Betsy Wetsy,” said Yo pointing to a baby.

“But Yo ,” whispered Larry. “She’s a baby and need we go into whether her name is literal or figurative?”

“Hmm, you have a point,” said Yo and added “Sorry Betsy. I think you could help us better on the home front.”

“Our next volunteers are brothers Jan and Stosh the Rock’em Sock’em Robots.
They’re Polish and they claim to have inspired a generation of Polish boxers. I don’t know if that’s true but I’m not going to question them. I think they will come in handy if we get in a bind and need some muscle.”

“That’s a good point Yo. Welcome aboard gentlemen.” Larry did a double take and asked Yo.” “Is it me or is his neck unusually long?”

Yo looked at the robots and said “Hey Stosh, or Jan, whichever; Please re-engage your neck spring. It’s freaking Larry out. Don’t worry Larry it goes back down. It’s part of their design.”

“Yo, who is that box there,” whispered Larry.

“Oh that there is Spirograph. He’s an artist.”

“We will not have time for art on this mission Yo,” stated Larry.

“Yea, I knew you would say something like that.” interrupted Spirograph. “No body appreciates art.”

“That’s not true,” uttered Larry. “I would love it if you could whip something up to inspire the troops.”

“You got it,” replied the Spirograph. “Do you have any drawing paper?”

“We’ll find you some in a moment,” replied Yo

The introductions carried on for a while and when they were done they had assembled a nice unit of specialists ready to mount an assault on Vince the collector and take back Xena.

“Larry I think you left out Mr. Potato Dude over there,” whispered Yo.

“Yes on purpose. We can’t afford the law suit that would entail,” replied Larry.

“Oh yea. I see your point.”

“Yo. You mentioned that several of these toys had some problems with Vince. Do they know where he lives?” asked Larry.

“You mean his lair,” replied a Batman action figure (of the Adam West variety).

“Um, yes I guess you could call it that.” replied Larry.

“Robin and I were once a captive of the one you call Vince the collector. I can lead you to his lair in the dark if I have to”.

“Yo, Who is this Robin that he speaks of?” asked Larry.

“Keep it down will you. That is a sore subject. They parted ways and it wasn’t pretty.”

“Oops, my bad,” said Larry and then added “That would be great Mr., um, Batman.”

“It’s just Batman my boxlike friend.” replied Batman.

“Very well, Batman. You will lead us to the collector’s lair.”

Larry looked upon the rag tag group of toys that represented his last hope of seeing Xena again and shuddered. They’re not the dirty dozen but their all I have, he thought.

Will Spirograph finally be recognized as a true artist?                                                              Can Batman find Vince’s lair and if so will Xena trust her future to this collection of stooges?                                                                                                                                                  Do Jan and Stosh speak english or will the author have to translate?*                                 What will Vince do when he finds out that Xena is not a vintage Pong game?These answers and what ever the author dreams up after a late night snack to follow.

* He can if they just want to order lunch in a diner with soda water and/or beer.

Black Friday : Living On The Down Low

Black Friday : Living On The Down Low

A funny thing after the repost of the first of this four part series, I actually received a repost request from a real person and not one of my personalities. They are mentally healthy as far as I can tell but who am I to judge. So without further ado here is part 2 of my Black Friday Series.

     


 

Black Friday: Living On The Down Low
A week had gone by at the local Big Box and Xena had managed to avoid being sold. They had been lucky, thought Larry. Their luck would run out soon. He was getting nervous.

Yo had the job of finding a suitable disguise for Xena. He was not exactly the brightest Yo- Yo on the planet, ok his string didn’t spin very fast on his hub if you know what I mean, but he could move around the store much faster than Larry and time was of the essence.

Larry was grateful that Yo was willing to take the risk of being out in the open during prime buying season. He could no longer move like, well, lets face he could never really move all that fast.

It was probably because he was big boxed.

Yo had come back with several potential disguises but for one reason or another they all turned out to be bad ideas. The one idea that had come closest to solving their problem was when Yo discovered  a box containing Hug Me Elmo.

It wouldn’t take much to take out Elmo and dispose of the body. They also thought that he would not be in high demand given the scandal surrounding the Elmo puppeteer but Larry was worried the buying public had a short memory and since the Hug Me version did not sound as suspicious as the Tickle Me edition he did not want to take a chance on its marketability.

Larry was beginning to think it was time to think outside his box when Yo swung back from his latest expedition sounding triumphant.

“You sound exuberant. You had some luck I take it?” asked Larry.

“Huh, no I don’t need any lubricant. What are you talking about?” replied Yo.

“I said exuberant, it means excited.”

“Oh yea. I am exited. I found a perfect disguise for Xena.” replied Yo.

“Well, where is it?” asked Larry.

“After the last couple of failures I was not going to go swinging halfway across the store with it. Its a box of some kind of ping-pong things.”

“Ping-Pong Paddles?” queried Larry.

“Yea, that it.” answered a proud Yo.

“So, no batteries required?”

“Nope,” answered Yo.

“Nothing to plugin?”

“Nope again,”replied Yo.

“So its something they could play in a power outage or the coming apocalypse?” asked Larry.

“The alpaca what?”, replied Yo.

“When the stuff hits the fan.” answered Larry.

“Oh. Yea, light a few candles and I suspect there wouldn’t be a problem.” said Yo.

“It’s perfect. They’ll never buy it.” said Larry with a big grin on his box and added “Will you need help getting the box over to Xena in the gadget section?”

“No, in the time it would take you to get there someone could take out your insides and put them together.” laughed Yo.

“You do know that this box is a disguise and inside I am legos and not a 10,000 piece mercator puzzle of the world don’t you?”

“Uh, yeah. Hey, it could take a while to put legos together.” “I’ll be fine,” he said as he swung away toward the electronics department.

Sometime later Yo returned. “You can relax now Larry. Looking at Xena you would have no idea she’s the latest Xbox.”

“Just in the nick of time too. I just heard the manager saying they were going to put them on sale before we open today.” stated Larry. Just then the door chimed and signaled the store opening. The stampede had begun.

Having looped his string to the shelf unit Yo whispered “Quick Larry, toss me down behind the shelf”*. Larry did as he was told and then stayed in the back. His disguise had worked well but he wasn’t going to push his luck.

The sound of footsteps was soon accompanied by voices and the carnage began. Both Yo and Larry were sweating it out, well as much as toys could sweat, and the hours ticked by.

Larry was about to fall asleep when he heard a familiar voice in the electronic section say “Come here honey. Get a load of this.”

“What is it Harold?” replied a woman.

“I do believe it’s an old electronic Pong game Marge.”

“Yikes,” gasped Larry.

Now he recognized that voice. It was the vintage toy collector that he barely escaped from a few years back. “Yo, you said you found a box of Ping Pong paddles.”

“Well it had the word pong on the box so I just figured that’s what it was.” replied Yo rather sheepishly.

“Swell, remind me to rewind your string extra tight.”

Larry and Yo listen as Harold and Marge excitedly carried away their find to the front desk. Soon they exited the store with a big bag containing Xena.

“We’ll never see Xena again Yo.” said a sad Larry.

“Don’t worry Larry, another sexy gadget is just around the corner.” replied Yo trying to comfort him.

“You don’t understand Yo. She was just my type.”

“Oh Larry, all big boxes are your type.”

“That’s not true Yo. There was something about Xena. No matter what box she was in she had a certain ju ne se qua.” lamented Larry.

“A june bug what?” asked Larry.

“It’s French. A certain I don’t know what.” replied Larry

Yo shook his head and replied “Yea I don’t know what those French are trying to say either.”

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Black Friday Adventures. Will Larry be convinced that all sexy gadgets are alike and a replacement for Xena is just around the corner?

Will Larry try to rescue Xena?

Will Yo get an French-English dictionary?

Answers to these questions and those being asked by the voices in the authors head are coming to this blog soon.

*Sure Yo could swing himself across the store but his fear of the dark prevented him from hiding behind the shelf without a little push.

A Catharsis Is Required: The Return of Black Friday, A Different Perspective

A Catharsis Is Required: The Return of Black Friday, A Different Perspective

A tradition continues. I have had requests to repost this again this year. Ok the requests were by my other personalities but a request is a request.

Don't read this blog….if you hate the sound of laughter.

The pursuit of creative activities are often affected by the mindset of the individual involved. My writing is no exception.

This time of the year has an especially strong influence on my moods and I tend to go  through three stages.

Stage 1) Awareness:  This stage is marked by the thoughts. Well, I’ve gotten through Halloween and Thanksgiving without going into a diabetic coma so what’s next? Oh yea, Christmas.

Stage 2) Trepidation bordering on cynicism. This stage usually sets in just after ThanksGiving, Black Friday to be precise. This stage usually requires a bit of time to work through to get to the next stage. During this period last year I worked through it by posting a four part story about the travails of toys  during this time of the year.

Stage 3) Anticipation: The transition to this stage is marked when cynicism fades and has been  replaced…

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The Fading Ghosts of ’69

The Fading Ghosts of ’69

The place had emptied. The last hot dog wrapper of 2015 had drifted across the infield and made its exit out into the parking lot. A few wisps of vapor had lingered in the right field bleachers. If one listened closely one could almost hear the vapor speak.

“Same time next year fellas?”

“Yea, the usual.”

“I think next year is the last, next year.”

“What are you giving up?”

“Never, but next year we’ll be satisfied and we’ll move on.”

“Yea, I think you’re right. It feels different this time.”

“I saw that goat leave during the season.”

“Oh really, when?”

“It was just after a walk off win.”

“Which one? We had a bunch.”

“September 28, 2015.”

“The last one, against the Royals?”

“Yea. We didn’t know it then but the goat knew.”

“Knew what?”

“That we just took 2 out of 3 from a team bound for the World Series.”

“Yea but that was before we made the playoffs, before we beat St Louis to move to the NLCS.”

“Yea but at that point the goat knew that was a foregone conclusion and that his time was up.”

“I’m not going to miss that goat.”

“Me either, he stunk.”

“When does spring training start?”

“It’s just around the corner.”

Note: The Author is a lifelong Cub fan and they have broken his heart more times than the women in his life. He is still a diehard fan….of both.

It’s That Season Already

It’s That Season Already

Rays of sunshine peaked around fluffy white clouds as another day dawned at the gates. Herbert was on duty at the arrival desk providing for more vacation relief. Apparently St Peter was trying to get an afterlife.

The first shuttle of the day pulled up and a full compliment of arrivals disembarked. Herbert wasn’t sure but given that they all were wearing the same clothes, almost costumes really, he surmised they knew each other. Looking at the manifest he confirmed his suspicion.

“Yep, they’re all political consultants. That explains the plain grey suits and ties in what I assume is this years power color.”

The first person of the group stepped up to the podium.

“Hello I have been asked to be the spokesperson of the group.”

“Of course you have, What’s on your mind?”

“So, Are we correct in assuming these are the gates to heaven?”

“You are correct in assuming so sir.”
Herbert felt strange. He normally was not so formal. Perhaps it was the suits.

“Well, we are quite confused as to how we made it here?”

“Oh, why is that?”

“Aside from the fact that we are all political consultants, we also all basically committed suicide.”

“Well, as to the first part I can only say that is not immediate grounds for relocation to the basement so to speak. Unless you worked for Hitler, Mussolini or various other despots. I have a list here if you would like to check.”

“No, that won’t be necessary. We were not employed by any of those.”

“And as for the second part of your claim, I am quite certain you are mistaken. The shuttle would have taken you to a holding area to adjudicate the circumstances. Are you sure you all ended your lives?”

“Well not physically as such but we all gave up the will to live.”

“That’s not grounds for adjudication. But really; All of you? What possessed you to do that.”

“Well, it was quite a lot of things but mostly we were all tired of not being listened to.”

“Yes, that’s right,” the group shouted in unison.

At this point individuals began stepping forth to add their own voices to the discussion.

“It wasn’t like our advice was hard to understand,” said the average looking one in a suit.

“Yea, it was in plain language,” said another indistinguishable one in a suit.

“Yes,” said another one looking like, well you know the drill.

“We even put it on a flash card around their neck so they could consult it whenever they were asked a question,” added the spokesperson.

“Sounds like a good idea,” replied Herbert. “What did it say?”

“It says and I quote “Whatever you’re are thinking, don’t say it.”

“And that didn’t work?”

“Oh no, They just laughed and proceeded to insult every voting demographic that exists. Some of them we didn’t know existed until they expressed their rage.”

“Yea, And we had to clean up the mess,” shouted another, uh, nondescript arrival.

“Sorry to hear that but that is no longer your concern so you can all relax. I do have one question if you don’t mind?”

“Oh sure, you’re the gatekeeper by all means.”

“There is one gentlemen that kinds of stands out over there in the back.”

“Oh, Harry?”

“Is he the naked one covered in rather large bandages?”

“Yes and those are bumper stickers. He lost his mind before he lost the will to live.”

“You don’t say. What caused that?”

“Oh, the bumper stickers I supposed. Those were his clients last request before he just lost it.”

“What do they say?”

“The candidate apologizes in advance for anything offensive he will say soon”

“That would do it.”

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