Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas from the Inside

Sights of the Season

It is 10 AM, and a weekday, so even though it is just one week from Christmas, the parking lot still has some blank territory. A Honda minivan, with a, rusting scrape on the passenger side door, pulls into a space near the edge of the lot. An overgrown middle-aged woman emerges from the driver’s seat. She has parked at this little extra distance because at this end of the lot she could pull through with the van facing forward. The back window of the van is so dirty it might be hard to reverse in what will certainly be a more crowded parking lot an hour or two later, when it will be time to retreat. There will be toddlers and shopping carts and other people reversing in this parking lot. She looks at the welcome mats and sidewalk salt stacked outside the doors and is clearly tempted, but resists. She goes through the sliding doors and gets a cart.

If she weren’t so tall, and her coat so black she would not be very noticeable in the crowd of other middle-aged becoated women who are also at this store. The coat, however, a bargain buy at Target three years ago, still attracts a little attention. It is nice looking, with a faux fur collar. A closer look reveals that it only has two of its three buttons, and they are hanging precariously from threads. The middle button has gone.

Its wearer, alone, also knows that the right-hand pocket has lost its bottom. It is not much use for keeping her right hand warm, nor is it safe for keys or gloves, several of which have disappeared into it: a Bermuda pocket.

No one is paying that much attention, however. The bad haircut, puffy face, slightly crooked glasses and Timberland boots dispel any positive impression the coat might have made; more slattern than soignée. But ... It’s Vermont. “Soignée” hardly ever applies, and certainly not at this store. Gloves are cheap, she notices. There is a swimming-pool-sized bin of them near the entrance. They are $3.99 a pair, with Thinsulate, no less. But not today. A complete pair, bought last year right here, is in the van, having survived a full year in her possession. Today’s trip is about getting kids stockings stuffed. No gloves, no clothing of any kind, would be welcomed there.

She patrols the store in a haphazard manner. Curtains? No. But she looks at them. A giant wall clock from the “Edinburgh Clock Company, of London” (Made in China). Not today. Lamps? Hmm. She cleaned the boy’s room yesterday and the lighting there is terrible. She personally threw the old desk lamp that had been next to his bed into the skip at the dump earlier that morning. Here’s a nice lamp, suitable for a bedside. The box is good. These lamps have been liquidated from Target and the design is good. They are $4.99. They go on when you touch the base. He will like that. Even though it is a lamp, he will like it. It won’t fit in the stocking but it will count in his mind as a proper gift. When he tells his friends at school after New Year’s what he got for Christmas, he might even put this lamp near the top of the list, near the bicycle that is waiting in the back of the van, having been secured from WalMart just half an hour ago. Into the cart it goes.

[Oh, I could go on and on, but I won’t. At least not now. I can’t swear I won’t do at least one more shopping post. Oh, I promised the Hot Dog vendor outside the Christmas Tree Shoppe in Williston, Vermont (see above) that I would Blog about him. Hello if you stopped by, hot dog man. Note well, he’s only going to be at his stand there til New Years (back in the spring he said) and if you are looking for the best $3.75 lunch in Northern Vermont, see him soon or wait til spring. He has the gift of gab, I should have asked if he was from California or something, he’s that outgoing. He makes great hot dogs and he was right about the sport peppers and Diet Pepsi Max with ginseng he recommended to me].


T.J.'s Dawg House said...

Thank you KSV Woolfoot...We can't forget to mention the fact you save $3.50 on just the hot dog itself...any where else in the world they would be selling Vienna Beef 1/4lb Hot Dogs for $ if you like Bargains and I'll assume you do if you are by The Christmas Tree must try Gourmet Magazines Best Tasting Hot Dog in the United States!!
Thank you again KSV Woolfoot...The Hot Dog Man aka. TJ from Binghamton, NY!!

Lulu LaBonne said...

I imagined that you'd be making presents of your auction finds - or can't you bear to let them go?

KSV Woolfoot said...

Hi T.J. -
I am happy you stopped by and to give you a plug - I have a little unpaid endorsements thing going here at the moment. Believe what he says. If you like hot dogs al fresco (and don't we all?) you can't do better. By the by, my mom was born in Binghamton and various members of the family RIP there.

Lulu -
You are right about my auction stuff going out in the form of gifts. The children, unfortunately, won't be satisfied with tea cups or plates or old books, darn them.

Nan said...

You are a really good writer! I laugh whenever I visit. This was like a short story. As it began, I thought you were writing about someone you saw in the parking lot, and then the revelation came that it was really you. See, that's what all the great writers do! They surprise us. Hey have you ever had a falafel from Ali Baba's in Burlington? One of my favorite foods in the world. PS The lamp does indeed sound cool, and I'll bet he will love it.
I still must shop. I still must write cards (I've written nine, yes, 9 - it looks small whichever way I write it).

KSV Woolfoot said...

Hey Nan -
I am thinking of putting you on my payroll. Stop by with a few more compliments and you are in.
I worked next door to Ali Baba's for a couple of years and lived in Burlington for quite a few more but I never did buy a falafel there. I will next time I go. The problem is that it is next door to Kountry Kart where they make fabulous fish sandwiches.

Nan said...

I would forego fabulous fish for fantastic falafel.

old man neill said...

vienna beef? oh man you're lucky. there's like 1 vienna beef place in all of pittsburgh. it's a chicago brand...lordy i miss my vienna beef dogs.