Anyone taken as an individual, is tolerably sensible and reasonable- as a member of a crowd, he at once becomes a blockhead.
- Friedrich von Schiller
Breakfast: Challah (which our guests last night brought to us)
Lunch: Chicken with potatoes, yogurt
John Denver's Christmas Concert in Washington, DC (the standard car CD at Christmas time)
Sunny, not cold, not warm
I SHOULDA LEARNED FROM THE GOAT
21 December 2003
When Peggy and I were driving back from the outback, we were following a truck full of goats. Its only a two-lane road and you go long distances without being able to pass, so we spent a lot of time watching those goats. They were crammed into this very tall truck and one lone goat was desperate enough that he kept trying to climb out of the top.
I thought a lot about that goat when I was standing in line at Gottschalks today.
I chose the last weekend before Christmas to make my one trip to the local mall. Sometimes Im not terribly bright.
In actuality, I didnt think it would be too bad. I only had one thing to buy. I knew exactly where it was, and it was not in the "popular" areas of any of the stores. I should be able to get in and out in no time.
What I didnt plan ahead for was that Gottschalks would have fabulous sales on things you never knew you couldnt live without before. Things you never thought of buying. Things that youd never go shopping for and arent really sure what youll do with.
But heck-50% off??? How could I not at least look.
Perhaps its all the cleaning fumes going to my head, but I began acting like someone who actually, you know...entertains. One company dinner under my belt and Im already thinking like Martha Stewart.
But...really...50% off on all Christmas tablecloths and placemats? Surely before I die I will entertain again.
Never mind that I have two perfectly good sets of Christmas tablecloths, one that my mother-in-law gave me several years ago and one that a co-worker gave me the year I bought my long-desired set of Christmas dishes (another "cant pass up" deal--service for 12 for only $99. Its still a good deal. It was such a good deal then I bought two sets)
My Christmas table the last few years has looked lovelywith the "twelve days of Christmas" tablecloths, a bunch of artificial greenery, and every candle in the house lit. It looks almost like I know what Im doing.
But Ive done it. Several times. A part of me was looking for a new look, so I had to check out the 50%-or-more off offerings.
By the time Id decided I couldnt live without new tablecloths and had chosen 2 lovely matching cloths for $10 each (regular price $50) I was feeling right smug.
I was still in the not-very-busy sections of the store, right near where I wanted to be in the first place, and my tasks were almost finished. I quickly chose what Id come to choose, picked up a little something else nearby, also at a "cant pass up" price, and headed for checkout.
Someone apparently forgot to let Gottschalks management know that its Christmas.
There were, I kid you not, TWO clerks checking people out. TWO. The line formed behind me and stretched to Sacramento, and the aisle was so narrow it would accommodate two small people with one or two items standing side by side, or one large person, or a small person with severasl items, but would not permit a mother with a stroller and two toddlers to pass. The woman in front was buying every decorative plate in the store, with holders to go along with them, and her mother, who was about 107 years old and moved like she was about ready to break, had to examine each bloody plate as it was rung up.
The other clerk was trying to placate a man with a complaint who was looking for "a very large clerk with a tie." The clerk, who was about 12 years old, was punching furiously at the buttons on his telephone and looking like he wanted to cry.
I felt like that Australian goat, unable to get away, but looking up and out, desperately hoping for an escape.
Finally it was my turn and my purchases were quickly paid for and I was free...free...free. Only then I made a terrible decision. I was there at the mall...maybe Id just walk out the back door of Gottschalks into the mall itself and get a little bit of mall ambience.
Immediately outside the door were exhausted shoppers, piled in heaps on the benches, their children pulling on them asking to go see Santa. There was an air of quiet resignation that seemed to have settled on the faces of all the shoppers, as they stared vacantly into space.
Maybe Id just pop in the Christmas shop and see if I could pick up any ideas for a new look for my Christmas table. No luck.
The mall sucked me in and I walked slowly down the center aisle, checking out the cart displays.
Then I made a fateful decision. I decided to go into Target.
What was I thinking?
If there is anything worse than a mall on the last weekend before Christmas, its the malls Target on the last weekend before Christmas. It was rush hour on the Los Angeles freeway. It was opening day at Pac Bell Park. It was admission-free day at the San Diego Zoo. It was New Years Eve in Times Square. All rolled together. With crying babies and demanding children.
Tis the season.
Fighting my way through the crowds, I began to sweat, but I couldn't take off my jacket. I was wearing the lovely Australian fleece jacket I'd purchased in Perth, but since I'd expected to just pop in and pop out of the mall, I'd neglected to put on a bra under the sweatshirt that was under the jacket, so I didn't want to remove it and cause a stampede of horrified shoppers.
I did manage to get something which, in my mind, will make a lovely table decoration, and after waiting my turn at the check-out counter (during which time I finished reading "War and Peace"), I was free to go.
Then, instead of going out into the parking lot like a sensible person, I headed back into the mall again. Obviously I was determined to find the holly in my heart or die trying.
Any mall at Christmas is the place for artisans who cant afford regular shops to set up wagons and tempt you with their wares. There was a doll maker with the most bizarre-faced dolls Ive ever seen. There was a guy who made 3-D portraits of Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe and Our Lady of Guadalupe. I never did figure that one out. There was another guy who did sketches of well-known scenes from well-known movies. The Wizard of Oz one kinda sorta looked like Judy Garland, but you werent quite sure.
In short, there was nothing in the mall to tempt me and so when I came to the next exit door, I left, and announced to nobody in particular that I was now officially finished with Christmas shopping.
When I got to the car, my packages smelled a lovely orange. I discovered that somehow the bottle of orange cleaner had come unscrewed and the bottom of the bag was filled with orange cleaning liquid.
I came home, turned my car keys over to Walt and told him not to let me out again until after Christmas. I ain't never doing that again.
Not until next year, at least.
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST
Weight Lost to date: 48.6 lbs