Hurrah and humbug. Here’s to our annual ambivalence. Time to decorate, shop ’til ya drop and develop a mild drinking habit to cope. As a staunch offline shopper, allow me to emphasize that I do indeed love the Internet but I hate the hassle of being hacked.
However, I absolutely adore aIl of you online shoppers. Your method of shopping at home helps free up space for me at the malls. I’m no misanthrope, not even a curmudgeon, but I’m also no Mr. Congeniality among fellow shoppers.
Call me a sour puss, but let’s face it, when it comes to selecting gifts, I’m testy only because I suck teabags at the task. Even when the merchants have stocked the stores abundantly, I can never find the confounded gifts that life and wife have dispatched me to buy.
We draw names in our family. Lucky me, I drew that of my eccentric sister-in-law, Verbena. A tough one to please. Drawing her name has become comparable to drawing the card at a charades party that calls for me to mime “ice cream has no bones.”
I adore Verbena, but her idiosyncrasies make mine look downright dull. When she sent the word out that she’d love a pair of orange sunglasses, I jumped for joy. Cheap. Easy to find. Wanna bet?
My brother Skip malfunctions as Verbena’s long suffering husband. “Why in the world does your wife want orange sunglasses?” I asked.
He sighed and said: “To wear exclusively when she’s in the kitchen.”
Huh? Ah, then suddenly her gaudy, blinding, totally orange kitchen flashed into my mind. I kid you not. Her stove, fridge, sink, floor, walls — all orange. She wants sunglasses as an accessory to match her orange kaftan and fluffy orange slippers. She refuses to enter the kitchen without them.
For more tidings of great joy, her kitchen reigns as the most tastefully decorated room in her house. Worst of which would be her all-pink bathroom. Tub, sink, toilet, walls and floor — all pink. When you glance into the bathroom mirror, you look like you’ve been standing around crying all day.
But what the hell can we expect from a woman whose house’s exterior is painted fuchsia and trimmed in chartreuse on the shutters?
I commented recently about the absence of red and green Christmas colors in their apartment. Verbena asserted that those colors would clash with their orange Christmas tree. “I certainly can’t argue with that,” I deadpanned.
“I love the color orange. Deal with it,” she snapped. Verbena said the closest to anything red and green will be her green mint plants and her pink bathroom. “Red diluted with white makes pink. So there!”
I often wonder if she wears pink sunglasses in the bathroom to create a perfect harmony with her pink negligée and fluffy pink slippers. But I digress.
My gift-selecting frustration minors next to Skip’s. Verbena expects him to buy her a sable stole. Knowing her taste and idiosyncrasies, she probably wants to wear it only when she carries out the garbage or something.
When Skip told me that Verbena had requested the fur stole, the animal-lover within me threatened to get out my blood red paint and thrust it toward the stole upon sight.
“At ease, at ease,” Skip said. “You know and she knows that I can’t afford to buy her a sable stole. I’ve emphatically informed her in advance that Santa brings only fake fur.”
He then showed me the hideous, phony fur stole before he wrapped it. Shaking my head, I said: “Oh, Skip. Think how many mice had to die in order for Verbena to wear that coat.”
Because of my avoidance of cyberspace shops and my inability to find orange sunglasses at any mall on Planet Earth, I’ve given up and begun searching for something else for Verbena.
Meanwhile, I just found a good gag gift — a yodeling Christmas carrot ornament. Motion activated, the carrot’s a little gadget with a smiley face that actually yodels the song “Jingle Bells” every time anyone walks by it. She’ll really hate that. Mission accomplished.
Even better, today I ran across the gem of all gag gifts. It’s a roll of toilet paper in which all the square sheets are printed with the image of anyone on the world stage that irks you.
I had the store place the image of a HUGE public figure that Verbena detests. He shall remain nameless here. Hint: The toilet paper reveals a perfect likeness of a bigly powerful political figure. And the paper itself has a delightfully appropriate orange cast.
Will it to inspire Verbena to have the cherry colored bathroom redone in orange?
Hummm. What a peach mint of an idea.
As for me, all I want for Christmas is a method to improve my wordplay.
— Steve Eskew
Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. When asked to take over a theater column at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa, he began a career as a journalist. This led to numerous publications including theater and book reviews, profiles and Steve’s favorite genre, humor writing. Check out his new humor blog, ESKEWPADES.