I just love this time of year. Pretty lights, great food, friends, family (well, scratch family—except for Stij. I want to enjoy my Christmas, not suddenly be under indictment).
Anyhow, this year, I decided to surprise Stij with outdoor Christmas lights.
I waited until he’d left for work, then jumped into my car and headed for the store. I may have even hummed Christmas carols on the trip. I was happy and all was right with the world.
This did not last.
I pulled in at everyone’s favorite big-box store (I know, I know…bad start) and hustled inside.
I hadn’t been in one for a while. Those Supercenters are huge! I stopped at the customer service desk and picked up a map, some food and water, and a tent, and off I went. I declined the wilderness guide they offered because he looked way too much like Mel Brooks.
I walked on for a mile or so, and didn’t see any decorations, so I consulted my map to try to find out where, in relation to the Christmas section, I currently found myself. I was right in front of the Pet Department, so I looked for it on the map to get my bearings.
There was no Pet Department on the map.
However, I thought I saw twinkling lights about a half-mile ahead, so I gamely continued my trek. On my way, I passed shoppers who had already claimed a spot and set up their tents for the night, having dropped, exhausted, where they stood. They were pale, malnourished-looking and obviously quite weak.
I stopped at one encampment in ladies lingerie. “Excuse me. Do you know where the Christmas Department is? I need some outdoor lights.”
He laughed hollowly. “That’s what we came here for…three days ago. We’ve been living on diet Coke and Snickers bars ever since, looking for a way out of this place.”
“Just how big is this store, anyhow?” I asked.
“Look at the scale of miles on the map.”
I did, and discovered that one inch equaled ten miles. The map, when unfolded completely, measured 24 x 12 inches.
“Would you like to stop here and rest a while?”
“I think I’ll just keep going, but thank you, anyway,” I said.
“I hope your malaria shots are up to date. They had trouble with the electric in the pet department and the fish tank filters stopped working. All the fish are decomposing and it’s swarming with mosquitoes in all that standing water.”
“I thought I smelled something odd when I walked by there.”
“It’s no joke—three people are already dead.”
“Jesus! What did they do with the bodies?”
“I think they have a crematorium on the premises.”
I tried to call Stij to let him know where I was and that I may be late home to dinner, but I couldn’t get a signal.
I walked faster.
I walked past the Men’s Department, the Boys’ Department, the Infants’ Department, the Neonatal Department, and the Conception Department.
Then things really got strange.
Did you know that Supercenters also have adoption agencies? Presumably to place the poor children who were with parents who keeled over and croaked in the store. To this end, there is also a Funeral Department. Evidently, you can be buried in the Garden Center at Rollback prices. I also passed a chicken farm, a toilet paper factory, a recycling station, a re-training facility for the criminally insane, and an operating theatre.
I was no closer to the twinkling lights, however.
I had to move faster.
Walking on a bit farther, I saw the answer. Bicycles! I grabbed one, hopped on before anyone could say anything and sped off down the main aisle.
About ten-thirty that evening, I finally made it! I wept joyful tears on the sales clerk’s shoulder, bought a cartful of lights and decorations, and paid for them.
“Oh, Jesus, it’s going to take me ten more hours to get back to my car,” I muttered.
“Oh, no it won’t, ma’am. You can exit right out this door and into the parking lot.”
“You mean I could have come in this door, too?”
“Sure. It’s right on the map—see?”
I left shortly after that.
Ten minutes later, I arrived home.
“I was just about to call the cops! Why didn’t you call me? I’ve been worried sick!”
“I couldn’t get a signal.”
“Where were you, anyway?”
“I went to the Supercenter to surprise you with outdoor Christmas lights.”
“Oh. Where are they?”
“I found it necessary, at the last minute, to strangle a sales clerk with most of them, and hang her up over a crematory door in a light display that was both colorful and grotesque simultaneously.”
“Do I want to know about this?”
“Well, did you bring home any lights at all after all that?”
“Yep. They’re all plugged in outside—take a look.”
He came back ten seconds later. “I would hardly call a wadded up ball of blinking colored lights lobbed into the middle of the driveway terribly festive.”
“Well, there’s a Santa Claus and a reindeer in there somewhere, too, I think.”
“They don’t help. Right now, I’m going to pour you a large bourbon, then I’m going back outside to dispose of those lights before they short circuit and burn down the truck.”
Fa la la la la, la la la la.