Columns » Bob Lancaster

You really shouldn’t

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I'd prefer no gifts. Honestly. It's not that I don't want to feel beholden to you, because I already feel beholden to you — for your support and forbearance through all these Christmases going back to Lyndon Johnson.

And it's not only that I want to be as opposite as possible from the gimme, grabby Huckatypes always eager to scarf up more earthly treasure to hoard up for the moths and the thieves. The long and short of it: I'd rather you give it to someone who needs it more than I do, or spend it on yourself. From the look of things, you might do well to put it in a fruit jar and bury it in the yard.

But I know how it is with you celebrity-worshipper hoi polloi, and I can't force you not to send along the seasonal tokens of appreciation, especially the baked goods. You really shouldn't. Really, you shouldn't. It's your right and privilege, though, I know that, and I know you gotta do what you gotta do. But if it's all the same to you, I have a short list here of largesse I'd sincerely rather not have to wake up to, flattered as I might be that you'd go to the trouble and expense.

Don't want a Fathead of any of the Dallas Cowboy thugs, for example. (Nor a Fathead of their fathead owner. Nor any other Fathead … unless there's one of Cliff Lee.)

Don't want a Hillary Clinton nutcracker. (Not funny.)

Don't want a bail-out. (I figure lots of y'all, when it went over a trillion, got to feeling like you were maybe caught up on your bail-out obligations for the time being.)

Don't want another 100 pounds of frozen deer meat. (I mean, I appreciate the gesture, but my deep freeze has been bad to conk out these last few years, and every single one of the power outages from all the hurricanes and global-warming deluges left us with a 26-cubic-foot kitchen stink that hung on so long we thought we were going to have to burn the house down to be able to stand living in it. And with us, gifted-on-us deer meat tends to stay in the deep freeze till it's ruint by freezer-burn anyway, just on account of our preference for the higher meats such as baloney or Spam, and then when we have to throw it out, we don't have any dogs to throw it out to, not since the Scared-Ass Weenie Dog ran off, so it's even more of a decomposition problem out there, making it nigh impossible when it thaws come springtime to enjoy sitting out in the glider.)

Don't want anything that I have to register, or fill out paperwork on and send it in, to be read by some marketing person who will use it to decide what other short-lived products I don't need that they might be able to gull me into buying. (Nor anything I can't safely throw away. Nor anything painted in China. Nor anything in a container that's been retaped in a way to suggest it was previously purchased and then returned to the store as defective.)

Don't want any more coprolites, thank you very much.

Don't want anything telecommunicational that will require exhausting serial landline consultation with some penny-an-hour English-challenged expert in India to make it operational, or that will require exhausting serial cellular consultation with my tech-wizard 13-year-old granddaughter in Maryland to get it to imperfectly perform one or maybe even two of the most basic of the thousands of functions it's supposed to perform.

Nor anything plastic requiring activation at some undisclosed location by some disembodied computer-generated non-human entity. Nor any product of which it is written on the container or on the instruction sheet inside “Some Assembly Required.” (At this stage of the game for ol' moi, assembly is no longer ever required. Also, the batteries have to be included, and it has to be already turned on.)

Don't want any of your animals that you've decided for some reason or other that you can't any longer take care of. Nor any of your children whom you've decided you have better things to do than raise.

No gadgets. (There's a gadget now to do anything you can imagine, and a gadget to do lots of things that you'd never have known needed doing if the gadgetry hadn't been invented to do them. There was even a popular accurately-named gadget one Christmas called a Do-Nothing. At least with the Pet Rock, you could use it as a paperweight, but the Do-Nothing wouldn't even do that.)

No doohickeys, either. (Although there are gadgets and doohickeys now to do anything and everything, none of them will do it for very long. Few of them go three weeks before they break down, and then you'll have to discard them because there's nothing more annoying than having to be all the time looking at a broken gadget or doohickey just lying there useless.)

(Well, it might be worse having a deadbeat relative who does that — lying around the house useless, I mean — but that's a topic for another day.)

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