Holiday Shopping For The DAMNED
Grandma and I knew what we were driving into before we left the house; a solid line of unmoving, red, brake lights divided by morse code of white headlights trickling back from the shopping battlefront- giving us a clear, naval message: "TURN BACK--STOP--NOT WORTH IT--STOP--GET THE BASTARDS GIFT CARDS--STOP."
We went on anyway.
The parking lots at Best Buy and Target in Chapel Hill were filled to capacity, but we have one weapon that few had to match- Grandma. Grandma's knee replacement last March has left her in agony; sleepless nights with a heated pad under her leg are still common. The good thing that came from the surgery is her official Ohio Handicapped Person's parking space in-a-box tag, which she would swipe from the car she usually drives so we could take the van and fit all the little people in the back; FAR in the back where we would not have to hear them. Grandma truly needs that tag, so we thought we wouldn't feel guilty taking it with her as sort of a Grandma bonus.
We forgot the tag.
We dropped Grandma off at the front entrance of the store so she wouldn't have to walk and parked the car off over the horizon and started our way, shopping.
I remember the first time I went Christmas shopping. It was a complete accident. I was at that age where I still dug the whole "Santa" routine; we had gone out to an early dinner with some relatives and then they drove back to the house where presumably they were to drop off certain people and go by themselves. Grandma and Mom, however, forgot I was sleeping in the car- so I was just as thrilled as I imagine they were when I woke up just as they pulled into the mall parking lot screaming "Awesome! We're going shopping!!" (Going to the mall was a big deal for a kid.) Ever since then I've made it sort of a habit to go along and help out with things. Grandma, Mom and I would go Christmas shopping and I knew all the dirty, horrible secrets that the rest of the family wouldn't know for another month.
I was on the goddamn INSIDE, man.
This year, again because of time constraints and income, there are no secrets. All six of us went shopping together, picked out a reasonable thing we wanted in full view, and went home happy. Compared to upper class folks it might seem humble, but in contrast to those without- it was a bounty. I got a set of computer speakers. My ex still has my old ones, and she can keep them; no hard feelings. Grandma got a new quilt; her gaming needs already met by Dana and Melissa, she moved on to "other" things. I got some cable management supplies from RadioShack to make her un-named game room a sense of neatness, and my credit was good enough to finally get my ass a cell phone, a near necessity as a stringer.
I had a beautiful find at Gamestop, a used copy of Final Fantasy Tactics in near perfect condition. It was $12.99 but we were already out of cash.
When Grandma went to Marc's Grocery Store earlier the place was fucking PACKED with people trying to squeeze in hurried consequences of hasty decisions manifested in the honey-glazed ham and bottles of advil and gin in their shopping carts. The lines curved nearly into the center of the store. As Grandma finally approached the check-out lane after a bit of a wait, the cashier takes one look at her and yells loudly: "Hey!! Didn't I see you on TV the other night?!!"
Every head in the whole damn store turns to Grandma like a motherfucking cartoon. It was a single action- just *blink!* and they're all looking at her. Forgetting that gestures only assist sound to travel to the human brain, she waved her arm, shook her head, did that little thing with her finger over her mouth half screaming half whispering "SHHHH!! Shut up! Forget about it!! Let me just get out of here!!" A strange sound of mumbling took over the store like the detective just told the guests that the killer is, in fact, among them. A few words can be picked out of the noise like "...games...Playstation....Xbox......Nintendo....MTV....blog....hardcore..." enough to know she had been clocked by the crowed, recognized and observed.
It was great ;)
She was embarrassed a little of course, but she had fun and a good laugh out of it. It's just Grandma, you know! She still thinks this whole deal is funny as hell.
We got home just a few minutes ago, now 11:45pm on the East Coast, to find two great gifts not under the tree delivered by a fat man in a red coat; rather two, delightfully corrugated cardboard boxes delivered via UPS by, as Grandma likes to believe, a stunningly handsome man, ripped with muscles in brown, UPS issue hot pants.
I don't know what it is with Grandma and dudes in shorts. I may never know.
The first package contained Dragon Quest VIII, dutifully on time from EBGames.com; a gift whose travels we have documented in our last post- the product of a generous gift card from Dana, a long time reader who wanted to spread the holiday joy. You bet your ass you know what Grandma's doing tomorrow.
The second package held a brand-spanking new copy of Melissa et. al's latest piece of awesome- Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. Treyarch and Activision put together one fucking AWESOME game, people; and this is for the XBox, not the 360; so if you're like us and have to wait a few more years of pinching pennies before the Beast is yours, or if you just want to shake your house with a brilliantly crisp FPS, then pick this up NOW. You bet your ass you know what Grandma's doing tomorrow.
Thank you so much, everyone. It was going to be a tight holiday for Grandma, but now: Christmas has come early, and she's not waiting to open her presents.
Except the quilt. If she has to freeze her ass off tonight without it, we don't care; she has got to open SOMETHING under that fucking tree.