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Monday, December 29, 2014

New Years and the Saga of Hermosa

One of the most frequent questions I get asked, (and not always from family,) is: Headley, why are you such a pathetic loser?
At first I found the question offensive, but as I was asked it so often, I decided to look at it in a good way. It turns out there is no good way to look at a question like that, so I figured the best thing would be to answer here on the blog and maybe that would get everybody OFF MY BACK!
Back in December of 1989, I wasn’t a complete loser. It’s true that I had a lousy job, and a worse work ethic. I had poor taste in clothing, questionable hygiene, and a diet that included too many gassy foods, but I also had (wait for it,) a girlfriend named, Hermosa Golden.
Hermosa finished second in the Babe Most Likely to Cause a Heart Attack pageant, an annual event in her upscale town of Chapavinhyaniceaster, Mass. It was sponsored by Construction Workers local 142 and the League of Women Voters, (the hard-hats were concerned that the name might be insensitive, but were over-ruled. They had some odd women voting in Chapavinhyaniceaster, Mass.)
In addition to being a beauty queen runner-up, Hermosa was a cardiac surgeon, (probably just as well she didn’t win the Babe Most Likely to Cause a Heart Attack pageant,) a personal friend of Mother Teresa, 
and the only heir of her senile father, Richie Golden. Richie Golden owned a chain of active gold mines stringing from Alaska to Chile (the country 
not the food, for, though I really like chili the food, 
that wouldn’t make much sense.)
Yup, Hermosa was a winner. Most of our friends agreed that Hermosa’s only fault was her taste in men, because Hermosa loved me like salami loves mustard – or some more appropriate simile (or maybe metaphor.)
Among Hermosa’s less questionable enthusiasms was her obsession with New Years Eve.
 “Whatever else happens, Headley, we must kiss at midnight on New Years Eve,” she told me. “If we kiss at midnight, we’ll get married, be rich, happy, healthy, and live in joy for the rest of our lives.”
“I could live with that,” I responded romantically. See – I could sweet talk with the best of them.
December 31, 1989, Hermosa called me from the hospital around 10PM. “Pope John Paul has had a heart attack,” she told me, “and they need me for emergency surgery.”
“Yeah, well hurry it up,” I replied. “I charged some chicken wings to your credit card, and they smell great! If you don’t get here soon, I’m going to start eating them.”
“I knew you’d understand,” she said sweetly.
While Hermosa was taking it easy saving the Pope, I was trapped in her luxury apartment with 2 dozen of the sweetest smelling chicken wings I’d ever had to sit and watch (and not eat.)
I resisted the temptation to open the box of wings. I didn’t blame her. I understood that love was all about sacrifice. For nearly two hours I sacrificed and sacrificed. How can chicken wings smell so fantastic for so long? What were these – chicken wings of the gods?
The phone rang.
“We saved His Holiness,” said Hermosa.
“Forget about that!” I shouted. “Get over here, fast!”
“Don’t worry, Baby. I’ll be there by midnight. We can kiss in the New Year and be happy forever!”
Happy forever sounded nice, but I REALLY wanted a chicken wing!
I watched Dick Clark, (who was still a teenager back then,) as the aroma of those chicken wings battered at my olfactory nerves (though they weren’t battered chicken wings.)
When they started counting down the last minute, I realized that Hermosa wasn’t going to make it in time, so I ripped open the box of wings. That’s when I realized why they smelled so good for so long. The store didn’t send us wings – they sent us drumsticks. I thought I heard a key in the door, but I’m not sure because I was focused on the sight in front of me.
“Oh Baby,” I shouted. “What legs!”
I quickly grabbed a drumstick from the box, smacked my lips and bit into it.
“MMMMMMmmm, ooooooooh, slurp, mmmmmm!” I said (or something like it.) My mouth exploded with flavor as the ball hit zero in Time’s Square.
“Happy 1990, Baby!” I shouted.
I might have heard a door slam, but I didn’t care at that point. I went on to devour all the chicken legs and go into a food coma – the delicious kind.
A couple days later I began to wonder what happened to Hermosa. I never found out, but I did get a visit from a process server with a court order to vacate her luxury apartment.
So you wonder why I’m such a pathetic loser? It’s because rich, beautiful, medically talented women that are friends with Mother Teresa are clearly unreliable.
But MAN, do I love chicken legs!

Yes - that last romance was 25 years ago - what of it?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

20 Reasons I Still Believe in Santa Claus

1) I’ve watched Miracle on 34th Street. The Postal Service knows their stuff.

2) Ralphie got his bb-gun, didn’t he?

3) The sugar plums may be gone, but their fruit flies are still dancing in my head.

4) Somebody had to teach pirates that ho-ho-ho thing.

5) My neighbor claims he winged him once skeet shooting.

6) Mrs. Claus is a serious babe! I know that’s not a reason, but I’m just sayin’.

7) 1.3 billion Muslims can’t be wrong… Say what?... Okay, my bad on that one.

8) Somebody keeps eating my Christmas cookies.

9) MIB (Men in Black) derives from MIR - his corps of elite elves tracking down delinquent misfit toys.

10) There’s festive red and green mold growing on my tile grout.

11) Santa’s a man that’s 150 pounds overweight who constantly eats cookies and candy and drinks eggnog. He exercises only one day a year, and is hundreds of years old. He represents the hope held by many lazy middle-aged Americans that the AMA is full of crap.

12) Will Ferrell has never lied to me.

13) The Tick Loves Santa.

14) That bag of flaming reindeer poop he left at my door.

15) According to WikiLeaks, last year the NSA seized Santa’s “he knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake; he knows when you’ve been bad or good” files.

16) Hanukkah Harry.

17) I just saw him outside the mall yesterday.

18) Who else do you think delivers all those presents? The Tooth Fairy can barely lift a dollar coin.

19) Mr. Adam’s garden gnomes say there are consequences for Santa doubters.

What’s that you say? That’s only 19? What are you, the Christmas blog fact-checker? Number 20 doesn’t need any words from me.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dear Santa

Dear Santa:
   It's okay that you didn't bring me what I asked for last Christmas.  I don't really know how much a metric ton is - it just sounded like a lot, and having that many Pop Tarts in your sled would probably give Donner a hernia anyway.
   Instead of adding to your paperwork this year, I thought you might want to see some of the paperwork I've run across lately.  Most of it has very little to do with Christmas, but I figure you're probably pretty tired of that stuff by now.
   Here's a Season's greeting I got from a politically correct friend on FB.
   I don't really know what politically correct means anymore, (nor does anyone else, I think,) but it's nice to know that while you, Baby Jesus, menorahs, and Kwanzaa stuff didn't make the cut, Rudolf's buddy the Abominable Snowman is still (temporarily) acceptable.
   People send me a lot of stuff about punctuation.  Did they have that back when you were in school?  It's something I don't do very well and I guess people think it's important.
   I don't get it - where else are you supposed to hunt pedestrians?
   This is why I avoid the doctor.
   If your name is John, any letter you're going to get is a dear John letter anyway.
   I know you'll be working all night on Wednesday.  Here's a helpful scribble someone sent me to help you stay awake.
   You don't want to nod off when traveling a million miles a second, or whatever it is you have to go to deliver toys to 2 billion households in one night.  Speaking of travel, here's a little home-make bingo card someone sent me.
  If you get bored you can play bingo with Dasher - or is it Blitzen you're closest to?  I know the order of your drive train, but no idea if it's front to back or back to front.
   You being kid oriented, I figured you might want to see a list from one that wasn't asking you for something.  Somebody sent me this answer from her kid's test.
   Pretty funny, huh?  This year's bears lost two games to NFC South teams, they couldn't eat a Green Bay cheese hat.
   Well that's it for me.  Bring some Pop Tarts on Wednesday if you remember and maybe we can pop in a movie if you've got the time.  You know what I'll be doing, writing novels and blog posts with visions of publishing deals dancing in my head.
   Merry Non-Denominational Winter-time Goings-on to you, Santa.
   Your friend, Headley.

   I don't know if you should put so much rum in your eggnog this year, Santa.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Marvel the Mustang Where are You?

In the early years of the era of Christmas entitlement for children of the middle class, I wanted one thing and only one thing for Christmas.
I didn’t get it.
Television was still working its way into being the dominant social force of American culture. My parents, having been raise in the depression, were not clued into the new reality. Christmas was no longer about religion, family, mistletoe, sleigh rides or pictures from Currier and Ives, or even Norman Rockwell. Christmas had been transformed by a cabal of Baby Boomer greed and Madison Avenue into a season where children had to get what they wanted – or else.
What I wanted (as you may have surmised from the title,) was Marvel the Mustang. As the clever theme song told me, he was “almost like real.” The grainy black and white (at least on our set,) TV advert mesmerized me during my scheduled viewings of Bozo the Clown and Romper Room (for some reason, I don’t think they sponsored Captain Kangaroo.) For weeks, I waited breathlessly for the commercial’s opening frames, so I could run and drag my parents to the TV console and show them what I REALLY wanted for Christmas.

As Mom stayed at home with us kids, it didn't take long to show her the ad, but her response was the ominous, “We’ll have to check with your father.”
The problem was that Dad didn’t get home until around 6:30 each night, and kids afternoon programming gave way to boring adult stuff around 5. How was I ever going to show my father this advert? I asked him to take our portable (it only weighed 45 pounds,) 10 inch black and white TV to work with him to see the ad. 
 He refused without comment.
Back then, Dads could do that – a right they seemed to have lost in more modern times.
As Christmas neared I despaired. The week before the great event, Dad came home early to pack the family into the station wagon and get our annual live (though dead) Douglas fir.
“Headley! Into the station wagon! It’s time to go.”
Bozo was talking to a kid who was about to have his name transformed into a picture by an artist (who usually cheated in my opinion.) “C’mon commercials,” I pleaded to our brown mahogany god of broadcast media.
“Headley,” my father said (less patient this time,) “we’re waiting for you!”
“And now, kids,” Bozo said with a twinkle of Christmas magic in his eyes, “here’s a message from our sponsors.”
Dad had a hold of my arm, under normal circumstances a frightful thing, but I was filled with the spirit of Christmas greed and had the strength of 10 5-year-olds. “Wait, Dad!” I shouted. “Here come the commercials!”
“The commercials?” he said puzzled. The imbecility of his youngest son’s statement temporarily stopped him in the process of prying me from the temple of television broadcasting.
“Marvel the Mustang,” sang the ad, “he’s almost like real. Just saddle him up, with spurs on your heel.”
“That’s it!” I screamed in rapture!
“What?” asked Dad, who in retrospect looked more than a little concerned for my mental state.
“That’s what I want for Christmas!” I shouted triumphantly.
The power of my passion drew my father’s eyes to the screen, we watched together as happy children bounced with forward mechanical movement on five pounds of hinged molded plastic. Silently, though ecstatically, I thanked Santa, Rudolph, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Bozo, and even Jesus in case he might have lent a hand as well.
The commercial came to its joyous end, as beautiful as the first time I saw it, but more meaningful as I was sharing it with my loving father – who also controlled the purse strings in our house.
Tears in my eyes, I stared up at my Dad rapturously. Surely he could see how Marvel the Mustang was the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts. Dad pursed his lips – a sign of thought, of consideration.
“Headley,” he said, “how old did those children look in that commercial?”
“I dunno,” I said, “maybe four?”
“More like three,” said Dad. “You’ll be six in March. You’re too old for that toy. You’d break it if you sat on it.”
In this age of eBay, I have on occasion searched Marvel the Mustang. Once in a while I find one, though rarely in working condition. Most of them were ridden to ruin by children that couldn’t remain small enough. Like tiny Puff the Magic Dragons, they lost their roars as thousands of Jackie Papers grew into their school-aged years.
My love/lust relationship with television advertisement was just beginning. There were many more toys I forced my bewildered Dad to view over the following years.

But Marvel the Mustang remains special. First love – even unrequited, never completely goes away.

FB friend AA showed me how silent monks stage their Christmas cantata.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Sweaters

   In one sense, Christmas sweaters were as much of a danger when I was a kid as they are today.  An aunt was almost certain to give you one.  You prayed you didn't get one from a grandmother, because grandparents ranked just behind parents and Santa in the possible big score category.
   But they weren't as big a danger in another way, because most - nearly all, Christmas sweaters looked a bit like this.
   It wasn't something you wanted to wear, but as every kid in the neighborhood had a couple much like it - it wasn't too embarrassing being seen in it.  Time has brought diversity to the Christmas sweater, and diversity, while it might constitute progress in some things, has only increased the horror of the Christmas sweater.
Why do they want me to look like the front door?
Fireplace - yeah, I can think of something I'd like to burn.
Really?  You really want me to go out in this?
Whadayamean, lousy gift?  I made this myself.
Not even the family pet is immune.
How many treats do I get for wearing this?
Are you smelling my Santa?
Say a word and I bite your leg off.
Cats should be exempt from such abuse
Does it really bring out my eyes?
One of the most disturbing trends is the 3-D sweater
Yes, I'm a Christmas tree - how much did you waste on this?
Yeah, we'll just mount it on a wall and pretend I shot Rudolph.
Rudolph's revenge
Great!  Now I expect the baby to arrive like Alien
Too much information
I'm the only Madonna fan in my Middle School
Of course for some people, it's a way of expressing themselves.
Let's go hunt down James Caan!
Reason for the season and all that crap
If I can just find someone drunk enough...
This might work too
I don't get it.
Looking for my beau
My worries about Christmas sweaters have passed along with my aunts and grandmothers, but if I did get one, I'd wouldn't want any half measures - make it as ugly as possible.
That otta do it.

For the five people who haven't seen this yet.