as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
My wife lied to me.
"No, I didn't," she insisted.
But she did.
By omission, that is.
You see, every year we go to a Christmas Fair with my buddy Maloney and his wife, Gail. Local businesses set up booths there to sell their wares. This year, however, my beautiful wife "conveniently" forgot to tell me Maloney wasn't coming. He played it smart and scheduled an appointment with an exterminator to fumigate his house. I'm not saying shopping with your wife is boring, but when a man would rather breathe poison, well, you tell me.
It cost five dollars to park in the underground garage, but a sign said no cash. Credit or debit only.
"What if you don't have a credit or debit card?" I asked my wife. "By the time you see the sign, you're stuck."
"Who doesn't have a credit or debit card?" my wife wanted to know.
She had a point. All I had was a weak argument.
"Well, somebody," I said.
We parked and got out of the car. By the time we got to the elevator, I had to see a man about a horse, if you get my drift. Everybody piled inside. The doors closed, but we didn't move. It looked like I would soon be having to apologize to an elevator full of unhappy people.
Turns out, no one had pressed the button. Finally, when somebody did, we began to move.
Walking into the holiday extravaganza, I looked around. Apparently, masks were optional. There was a 60s Volkswagen Beetle decorated like a Christmas present. The bathrooms were right behind it.
"You guys go ahead," I told my family. "I'm going to take a look at that Beetle."
"Why do you want to look at that old car?" my wife wanted to know.
"I just do," I answered.
Nobody needs to know my business.
When I came back, Maloney's wife was there and she was already in the middle of giving everyone a hug.
'You won't believe my mother," she told us.
"What now?" I thought to myself.
"She has BEDBUGS!"
Without thinking, we all took a step back, away from her.
They had just returned from vacation. Before they left, she made arrangements for her mother to stay at their house and watch their dog. Maloney complains that his mother-in-law loves that dog more than she loves her grandchildren. Personally, I think his wife loves that dog more than she loves him, but that's another story.
"Can you believe she didn't tell me?"
Yeah, I could believe it.
"I could SEE them on her, but what could I do? We were leaving when she got there."
"Is it a problem with the apartment complex she's living in?" I asked.
"It's a problem with HER," Gail said. "She never cleans or washes her sheets. Her place is filthy."
"Poor you," my wife offered.
"Poor Maloney," I thought.
The first booth we came upon sold peanut brittle. I love peanut brittle, but not for ten bucks a pop. As you know, $5 is my price point.
I heard music. Going off with my youngest daughter, I headed toward it. A Native American gentleman was playing a flute. He had a variety of them for sale. As I walked over to look at some, he immediately put down his instrument and walked over.
"Can I help you?" he asked, but I think he was just making sure I wouldn't steal anything.
I was thinking of buying one for my six-year-old granddaughter. She's very musical. Recently, she's begun taking piano lessons, and, to the consternation of her teacher, she prefers playing without looking at the sheet music. I understand the consternation. You first have to learn to do things the right way before you can do them YOUR way.
I've told my granddaughter that the piano is her secret friend. Whenever she's happy or angry or sad, she can always confide to the piano through writing her own songs. "And a piano will always keep your secrets," I promised her.
I decided on a small traditional flute and a pan flute. I recall a late-night commercial where some musician was selling CDs of his pan flute music. "He's sold more albums than the Beatles!" the announcer announced. That sounded suspicious to me, considering I had never heard of the guy before. Both flutes were past my price point, but I asked myself: Will I regret not buying them? Yeah, I would. So I did.
"Da-aaad!" my youngest daughter groused. "She doesn't need ANOTHER thing to annoy us with," but she said it with a smile. She loves her niece, too.
A local jeweler had a booth. "Designer for the stars!" a large sign read, and under the words were pictures of pretty young women wearing her jewelry. None of them were stars.
A guy with a vibrating muscle massager tried to cut me off.
"I'm looking for my wife," I told him, using the truth as an excuse not to stop.
"Give me two minutes," he pushed.
"You'd only be wasting your time," I told him.
Next to him was a foot guy. Now THAT I considered. When you get older you'll discover your feet will hurt for no reason. Still, I kept walking. He was past my price point, too. My father tells me I'd rather suffer than spend my money, and, yeah, he's probably right.
My daughter and I stopped at a booth that sold knitted hats of cartoon characters. Star Wars. Marvel. Even Disney.
I quickly got on my phone to give ol' Walt a heads up.
Turns out, he died in 1966.
Where does the time go?
I love Christmas office parties,
but I hate having to look for a job the next day.
theduchenebrothers at gmail dot com