>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson

December 24, 2006

Essential New Word of the Week: whalebed (definition hint: moanin' and groanin')

Gather round, children, and Uncle Dave will tell you a little Christmas story. No wise men, no triumvirate of ghosts, and no holographic ninja policeman, just a tale for you to consider as you do your last-minute wrapping. Once upon a time, Americans didn’t have much on their plates, news-wise (apart from something or other in Iraq). So, Fox News invented and hyped up a “War on Christmas.” In terms of journalism, this was about as compelling as a war on Hungry Hungry Hippos, but it resonated with many people just the same. Could a bunch of politically correct liberals really take the Christ out of Christmas? Only Wal-Mart executives knew for sure. You see, because Wal-Mart took advantage of scale economics, their outlets could offer brand names at low, low prices. In order to humanize the baffling and slightly mortifying ordeal of shopping there, they employed “greeters.” These poor souls had no function but to welcome you to Wal-Mart. As such, they were often elderly, illiterate, or research-gathering aliens in elderly/illiterate human disguises.

“Wal-Mart becomes my personal Vietnam, and I want to drop a payload of Agent Orange over all that red and green.”

To give their pointless duties a bit of variety, greeters would replace “Welcome to Wal-Mart” with “Merry Christmas” once a year. Most people didn’t care, and went on buying their oversize sweat pants without a second thought. But the mention of Christmas angered some people. They didn’t want to be reminded that they couldn’t join the local country club, or enjoy the delicious taste of bacon. So, they got mad at Wal-Mart. Since Wal-Mart is an international company worth billions of dollars, they immediately caved. Greeters were required to say “Happy Holidays,” omitting any mention of Jesus, unless referring to the store janitor, often named Jesus Rivera, or Jesus Martinez, or Jesus Rodriguez.So, if you had your heart set on buying three cubic yards of caramel corn, you would have to do so without being wished a Merry Christmas. This infuriated everyone who loves Christmas—which is pretty much everyone in the United States, minus the other religions, who sensibly don’t give a fuck, and Hawaiians, who I think might be figments of my imagination.
This year, Wal-Mart again reversed its decision. I suppose they gambled that their menorah sales wouldn’t drop too sharply as a result. Greeters can now say “Merry Christmas” without fear of reprisal from any of the snazzy-hatted minorities. To celebrate, the Christian Right ran to Wal-Marts across the country and bought all the novelty singing reindeer snow globes. The End.What can we learn from this Christmas Holiday story? Well, people who get offended by the phraseology of Wal-Mart drones might be oversensitive mental patients, but I think they’re on to something. Christmas shopping is a nightmare no matter where you go, so you may as well be greeted the way you like best. If I had presents to buy, I would demand to be addressed with “MERRY MOTHERFUCKING CHRISTMAS, CAPTAIN KICKASS!!” spelled out in semaphore flags by topless cheerleaders. I might be overstating the case here, but as Christmas approaches, Wal-Mart and every other store in North America becomes my personal Vietnam, and I want to drop a payload of Agent Orange over all that red and green. I don’t give a fuck about window displays featuring oversize candy canes unless they’re being used as gynecological instruments in some Fellini film come to life.Like most men, I approach shopping the same way as sex: if there’s no line, I can enter and be done in less than five minutes. But shopping at Christmas means coping with every hassle imaginable, including a line. Probably one so long that you’re in real danger of starving to death by the time you reach the checkout, so remember to bring your lembus bread.There’s not enough parking, and mall cops refuse to accept “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” as a reason to take a handicapped spot. Meanwhile, senior citizens shamble along the aisles, one agonizing step at a time, while I contemplate pulling the fire alarm so I can shove past them and maybe cop a feel in the commotion.Any type of behavior depicted in the film Jingle All the Way is likely to be the brainchild of Sinbad, and therefore not real; but on Christmas, people really do fight over stuff they want to buy. I’ve seen it. In some places, mostly the South, a gift is more touching based on how many other shoppers one has to fight to acquire it. It’s like Thunderdome, only with Tickle-Me-Elmos instead of chainsaws. I consider myself a pacifist, but if I’m in a mall in December, and you get between me and my intended purchase (more often than not some kind of liquor) I will cheerfully karate-chop you into the Banana Republic. Speaking of malls, do they still do the same Santa routine every year? Because if they do, someone’s due for a non-metaphorical beard-yankin’. Look, many of society’s most trusted figures have lost that trust. Priests are molesting altar boys. Scoutmasters are taking nude photos of their troops. Can it be long until some mall Santa agrees to bring a kid an Xbox as long as he plays with St. Nick’s Christmas balls? Questioning the morality of Santa might be
kind of harsh, but if you had a kid, would you let him sit on the lap of some guy who’s basically unemployable and probably drunk 11 months of the year? If so, thanks for reading, Mom! I didn’t mind when Santa showed me his Yule log. I never actually got the train set I wanted, but perhaps you could just spring for some therapyinstead.
And if all the commotion wasn’t enough, stores insist on playing goddamn Christmas music. It’s Jesus this and Santathat until I feel like detonating a car bomb. I realize opinions are strongly divided on this issue—even some of my friends like Christmas music, though careful questioning has led me to conclude that they’re just retarded, as opposed to gay—but the truth of the issue is: Fuck you. Christmas music can holly jolly suck my ass. Laughing all the way.Yes, Christmas shopping is that bad. Thankfully, as one of God’s chosen people, I don’t have to do much of it (most people think that Jews get eight days worth of smaller gifts; this is just a conspiracy perpetuated by the dreidel industry). I don’t get many presents either, but it’s totally worth it in order to avoid shopping in mid-December. If you feel the same way, take a quiet little tip from Uncle Dave. This Christmas, instead of fighting the crowds, the noise and the suspicious animatronic elves, give your loved ones the gift of laughter. All it takes is a simple email, urging them to check out the new and improved Pointsincase.com. And with the money I receive from the extra pageloads, I promise to buy you an Xbox. You’ve still gotta play with the Christmas balls, though….Merry Christmas, everyone! Essential New Word of the Week: whalebed[‘welbEd] nI recently purchased a huge new bed, which is the best thing I’ve bought in years. My old bed was a single, and frankly, it was kind of embarrassing to bring a girl home and expect her to sleep with me on something the size of a towel. But worse than that, it had an inner array of springs and wires and whatnot that was more complex than a grandfather clock. Even when no one was touching the bed, these springs would somehow pop and contract totally randomly. This would create the weirdest noises and reverberations you’ve everheard. One time, I had a friend over, and he remarked that it sounded like a whale’s mating call. I tried not to be too offended by his choice of metaphor, but I figured he was right. Given my track record, my bed was, in fact, attracting giant seafaring mammals! I didn’t want to be some lowly piece of krill, so I bought a new one shortly thereafter. But beware, the whalebed is still out there somewhere, perhaps being pursued by Captain Ahab.