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Drunken Santas, birth's gone horribly, conveniently wrong, and fish death. Yep, you've found a great new source for bedtime stories. More to come.

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Location: Sacramento, California, United States

Sea Monkey devotee since childhood.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Christmas Joy

I’d quit my job the day before. It’s a wonderful feeling quitting a job. Confirming that your destiny, though uncertain, is not contained within these particular four walls. Walking out the door for the last time is like a grown up version of the last day of school. I had pledged to myself as I liberated myself from yet another burn and turn restaurant, chain video store, or trendy overpriced coffee shop, “Now to do something worthwhile with my life.

Too long on a job and you start to feel like you need it. Once that dependence sets in you’re screwed. You start to care. The funny thing is I do worse when I care. When I don’t give a damn I move through the ranks pretty quickly, the higher ups mistaking my ambivalence for confidence. Heck I once made it from fry guy to burger flipper to head burger flipper in a mere two weeks. Then I crumbled up my paper hat, discarded my little plastic nametag, which invariably said the wrong name, and off I’d go. Getting out before that big burger money went to my head. Back then I’d be high for a week off the knowledge that I was jobless, bossless, and free, free at last. Oh well, the first time is always the sweetest.
I sit in my warm apartment this time, thinking how nice warmth and apartments are, and get ready to go hit the job market a scant twelve hours after quitting the last job, the blissful rush of “free, free at last” lasted less and less. Not the least of my concerns is a Christmas list hanging on my refrigerator. I really hope this can be the first year of my actually getting everyone a little something that will simultaneously advertise to them that I have my crap together and that I love them.

I start my hunt at the mall as I always do. The first step in finding a job is rejecting all the places where I don’t want to work and the mall has the largest number of such places in the greatest concentration. The mall also is one of my favorite places at Christmas. The lights the crowds the music, all things I hate the rest of the year, but around Christmas it makes me giddy. I look around at all the corporate stores that are the same in every mall everywhere, the hip store with all the retro stuff and the dirty board games, the bargain clothing store that gets things exactly two day after they go out of fashion with the oh so hip fifteen to seventeen year old crowd and best of all the huge corporate clothing giant that says, "Here! Plain white t-shirt and jeans, it’s cutting edge, honest, look at the price tag." I take a good long look at them all and say, “Nope, don’t want to work there.”

Well with that out of the way I head on out. I can’t help but stop and see Santa before I go. The old guy looks familiar this year. I mean of course he looks familiar, he’s Santa, but beyond that, I think I know this guy. Hot Damn, it’s big gay Shawn! I immediately get in line to sit on his lap, trying not to care about the evil eye I’m getting from parents and children alike. Just as I reach the front though, this little tart of an elf in a green felt mini skirt pulls the chain across.
“Santa will be back in 15 minutes big guy. He’s got to feed his reindeer.” I am disappointed, and need a smoothie to perk me up, but as I turn to head to the Juice booth, there in my way stands Big Gay Santa Shawn.

“Ho, Ho, Ho, You’ve been naughty!!!” He bellows at me.
“Uh, yeah, sorry about that Santa. Hey if I buy you a smoothie will you put me on the nice list anyway?” Me and Santa Shawn head to fetch some delicious and nutritious, and he gives me the low down.

“This job is great. The pay is unbelievable and all I got to do is sit here telling rich kids they’ll get the real Slim Shady for Christmas. I can hook you up dude.”

“Really? I’m Lookin’ for a job.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s a job search sweater if ever I’ve seen one.”

“Shaddup, this sweater rocks. Can you really make me Santa?”

“Well the big malls are all taken but Southside is still open.”
It sounds great to me. I figure I can work through Christmas get everyone gifts. The job even comes with a 20 percent discount at the mall stores who are of course dependent on Santa to steer the precious little consumers in their direction. And I can pay my rent and bills for January allowing me to maybe actually enjoy at least a couple days of “free, free at last” after the holidays.

“Hook me up Shawn, hook me up. I’m great with kids.”

I arrange to come back at five to meet Shawn’s boss, and decide to spend the rest of the day staking’ out all the presents I’ll be buyin’. A little devil on my shoulder suggests I get everyone Amazing Real Live Pet Sea Monkeys, but the little angel on the other side, who usually just agrees with the little devil, picks this occasion to actually do her job, and steers me away from that sacred aisle of the toy store where they keep the science kits, the ant farms, and of course the Amazing Real Live Pet Sea Monkeys.

Five O’clock comes quickly and I meet Shawn and his boss Nick at the food court. We talk over falafels. Apparently this guy has been in the Santa racket most of his life, and wears a real white beard, long white hair, ruby cheeks and bowl full of jelly belly year round.

He has amazing stories of mafia children in Chicago telling’ him they’d better get that little red choo-choo if fat boy knew what was good for him, and of mothers who want Santa to climb down there chimney when father is at the office.

“It’s some kind of fetish with these ladies, the whole outfit. They want me in the outfit, in character for gods sake.”

This I find simply amazing and must beg for more details.

“Oh man, they want me Ho Ho Hoing and telling them they’ve been extra nice this year.”

I’m crying laughing, as I ask him, “So you’ve actually done this?”

“Yes, I’m afraid I have, sometimes even if they were on my naughty list.”

“Especially if they were on your naughty list!” laughed Shawn.

“Oh like you’ve never taken advantage of Santa Clause being the ultimate bear.”

I’m dying with laughter over the fact that I’m having this conversation with two Santa Clauses in the mall food court. We eventually talk business, but there isn’t too much to talk. Old St. Nick likes me and tells me to show up at the depressed Southside Mall the next day at noon.

I spend the night with vision of sugarplums and housewives with Santa fetishes dancing in my head and show up the next day early and eager. Nick gives me my outfit and leads me to a dressing room. He gives me some pointers in rapid-fire speech.

“The elves are there to check for wet bottoms, if they miss and you get a damp one, give two Ho’s instead of three. That’s their cue to get the kid off of you. Some of these kids are pretty tough, so keep good eye contact going with your security elf.
Tell the kids they can list three items, and don’t let ‘em get past ten. Keep the line moving. Don’t let the depressing ones get you down. Just remember you’re there to cheer ‘em up, so do it, but don’t promise ‘em a Mercedes. We don’t need a bunch of pissed off parents. All right kid, you look great. Here’s some blush, knock ‘em dead.”

I walk out to the chair feeling like a natural. “Ho Ho Ho! Look at all these good boys and girls. Ho! Ho! Ho!” I take my seat and the rush is on. The first one is dumped in my lap.

“Well hello there, what’s your name”

“You s’pose to be Santa. Why don’t you know my name fool?”

“Well I only know the kids on my nice list, you must be on my naughty list.”

This gets me a dirty look from my security elf. “Ho Ho Ho!” I add hastily.
“How come there’s no black Santa. My big brother says we get the crappy presents cuz your an old cracker.” “Ho Ho Ho”

I see an older kid laughing’ his ass off a few yards away, and I sense it’s the older brother havin’ some fun at Santa’s expense.

“Do you want anything for Christmas little boy.”

“Yeah” he looks around a little and then self consciously whispers, “I want a new bike, and the Lego space station, and some Pokemon cards, and the Pokemon movie and” His desire for this great treasure has at least momentarily suspended his big brothers evil influence. The list goes on till my elf encourages me to hurry him along.

“Ho Ho, listen I’ll get you as much of that stuff as I can, but you got to do me a favor.”

“What’s that?”

“You tell your brother that I did know your name, his name, and all about what he did on Halloween and he’s on my very naughty list and may never get a present again ever.” I stop and think a minute then add “unless he brings me a mocha ….oh and get something for you, what do you want a hot chocolate?”

“Make him let me look at his playboys.”

“You tell him I know about those too, and you stay out of them, alright?”

“Alright Santa, thanks.”

I see the brothers reunite, the older anxious to hear how badly the younger messed with my head, and I get the dirty look I’d been expecting.

The next kid is placed on my lap.

“I want Nintendo, and a B.M.X. and a Rotweiller puppy, and “

Every one of these kids has a list a mile long, and carefully prioritized. They take this business very seriously. A few older ones start out sarcastic, usually playing the tough guy for some invisible audience, but even they slip in a sincere request or two, just in case I guess.

I get through my first day feeling pleasantly exhausted and head to a bar I’ve never heard of before where, according to Shawn, a lot of Santa’s hang out.

I find the bar all right and as I open the front door I am amazed. Santas Everywhere! Santas are arguing around the pool table, slumping over the bar, singing along loudly with the Eagles on the jukebox. Everyone has stayed in costume if not in character (not all is jolly). Shawn calls me to a corner table where he is flirting with a young elf, and Nick has himself a lady who promises to be nice and naughty.

“Hey Santa how’d it go?” Shawn greets me.

“Man I heard some lists today.”

“Yeah you were in a poor neighborhood, they always have the longest list.”

“Your kids lists aren’t as long?”

“No, the rich kids don’t need to believe in Santa as badly. They get stuff all year, and at Christmas they think long and hard to come up with a couple of things they didn’t get that are maybe a little bigger and a little more frivolous then what they con their parents out of the rest of the year. A lot of the little brats actually tell me, “Tell my Mom I want…”

“It’s that big of difference eh?”

“Oh yeah, that’s why we give you newbies the poor territory. You’re paying your dues my friend.”

We’re cut short by the Santas at the pool table who are now beating the crap out of each other. The Eagles singers have been replaced by a scruffy young Santa whose dirty beard and tattered suit suggest is not a working Santa at the present time.
He’s on top of the pool table using a cue as a guitar, rocking out to some old Black Sabbath.

Nick leans over to me “Don’t feel bad about promising ‘em the good stuff kid. Nobody spends too much on Christmas like poor parents. They’ll be in debt the rest of the year, but their babies are gonna have one helluva Christmas.”
With this him and his housewife head on out, he HO, HO, Hoing all the way through the door.

The Santas have made up at the pool table, and the Eagles are back on.

“Shawn, there’s only so much Eagles I can handle. I’m gonna head home.”

“Alright Mr. Claus well see you tomorrow.”

I leave Shawn and his anonymous elf and make my way home, to my nice warm home.
As the days pass, the lists get longer, many kids visit more than once having reprioritized, and a certain older brother can’t seem to stop coming around and staring. I see parents all around me filling baskets with Nikes that I could never afford, along with Nintendos and Pokemons and other must have commodities. They’re really going to town. I now know how this mall stays open the rest of the year. This insane consumerism troubles me, as I think of my role in it. I wonder if cash is used for anything as credit cards and debit cards flash every which way. Parents wandering in a daze with glossed over eyes and furrowed brows. It starts to affect my performance. I catch myself trying to tell kids of the real meaning of Christmas, something I don’t put much stock in myself, having always associated Christmas with cheesy canned music and gaudily decorated shopping malls for as long as I can remember. The little angels are not too interested in being the recipients of my great knowledge and usually interrupt me to continue their lists.

I head to the Santa bar every night wanting the company of the other brave men who share this bizarre experience, though the other Santas are mostly worried about taking home one of the cute young girls they hire as elves. Usually only the security elves are male, and poor Shawn's odds are severely limited in that few of them are ever gay, or if they are they tend to be young and undecided. Secretly I think Shawn likes to be the funny uncle that shows them the way.

Santas seem to be a particularly unhappy group, if unhappiness can be measured by pints or shots per hour. These guys really put it away. Nick tells me their just workin’ on their bellies.

“The less make up and props you need the higher on the Santa ladder you are. Which is why” and he stands and yell this part, “I am the King of the Santas.”

He has a pretty elf with him and she laughs delighted, as I think to myself, “Must not have been any housewives today.”

No Santas dare contest his royalty but a few are starting real beards beneath their fake ones, and you can see them eyeing him with that “one of these days, you’ll slip fat boy, and when you do Ho Ho Ho!!” look on their face.

Christmas is getting close and the scene at the mall is depressing me more and more. I watch as two parents get into fisticuffs over the last Pokemon bonus box, neither wanting to settle for the Digimon box the poor sales clerk desperately waves at them. The decorations and the music are now just furthering my depression. I’ve given up on teaching the real meaning of Christmas, having decided that the real meaning of Christmas is making Mr. K.B. Toys and Mr. R Us richer while making mom and dad poorer and poorer.

I’ve taken to keeping a flask of spiked eggnog on me witch I share with the security elf. This mall being more prone to problems, my security elf is a big monster of a man who looks ridiculous in his little green outfit. He is the consummate professional however having worked this racket to subsidize his own Christmas spending for the last four years.

“Why don’t you do Santa?” I ask him during a rare lull in business.

“Yeah, every kid wants a seven foot tall three hundred pound black Santa.”

“I see your point.”

We sit and watch the chaos all about us.

“Look at these fools makin’ themselves broke.” He says disgustedly passing the flask.

“Yeah. I don’t have any kids so I guess I just don’t get it.” I’m half way through the flask and we haven’t even reached our lunch break yet.

“I got kids and I try to make Christmas real nice, especially cuz I got such great kids, but there are limits. I spend on Christmas what I make workin’ this job and no more.”

“ What’s your other job?”

“I do security at an all night check cashing place.”

“That sounds pretty scary.”

“No mostly its just infuriating watching idiots throwing away ten percent of their
already tiny checks cuz they’re bank accounts are so overdrawn.”

“Doesn’t that poop you out, this all day and that all night?”

“No, I have a lot of energy. I don’t have a lazy bone in my body. When it isn’t Christmas time I go to school during the day anyway.”

“What are you studyin’?”

“I’m workin’ on my teaching credential, elementary school probably, maybe jr. high.”

“Well you’d have the best behaved class in the world.”

“Probably true. I just get so pissed off at the teachers my kids have now, and the teachers I had when I was a kid. They want it easy. They take their smartest kids and prescribe ‘em Prozac and Ritalin to shut ‘em up, and then reward the little morons that tow the line of crap their lazy teachers dole out.”

“Yeah, my teachers were pretty awful. They tried to put me on Ritalin.”

“That’s cuz your smart.”

“Thanks Elfie!” I say, honestly flattered, although my teachers did have some pretty good excuses, me being one of the least angelic little angels you’d ever want to meet.

Christmas Eve is just a few days a way and by pretending all these shoppers are as cool and together as my friend Elfie I’m able to enjoy myself a little more.
My little buddy, the older brother continues to keep a suspicious eye on me. I’m fully back into character now, although I do try to put a little bit of sense into the sugar high heads of these little angels, telling ‘em I can’t do everything on their list but I will do my best. I make up scenarios.

“My reindeer are getting old. They don’t allow me to carry as much as I use to.” Or “Mrs. Claus is hounding me for a new pair of Adidas and I need a new computer for myself, and the elves are demanding longer lunch breaks so it may be a slower Christmas this year.” Elfie finds this endlessly riotous, and we’re both stayin’ pretty darn cheery, though his child hoisting seems to have slowed, and the children seem to be barely reachin’ my lap.

I’ve gotten used to the Eagles and now regard them as just another kind of Christmas music to be enjoyed once a year now matter how awful it may sound during any other season. The other Santas are not so generous about my Black Sabbath preferences, but so far I’ve managed to rock out to the Oz without having to participate in the nightly Santa brawls. Nick wasn’t kiddin’ about the housewife thing. Fat and bearded may not do much the rest of the year but he is one Joyous Noel of a Don Juan this month.

And here at last, Christmas Eve.

A large black woman in a too small elf outfit greets me as I arrive at the mall. She explains to me that she is Mrs. Elfie and will be working his shift as he has a rotten back ache. I am disappointed and concerned, I’d really been lookin’ forward to hangin’ out with Elfie on this last day, but she is a sweet and appropriately jolly woman, and we have a grand time.

I see the older brother peekin’ at me again and I can’t resist fixin’ him with a stare that sends him running. Almost every kid on my lap has been there once before and I’m getting last minute revisions. I work a twelve-hour shift and am thrilled when towards the end of my line I see big brother in my line, and with a mocha in his hands no less. I give him a nice hardy “HO” as he reaches the front.

“I aint sittin’ in his damn lap” he tells Mrs. Elfie. “Here’s your mocha. Listen I know you aint Santa, but just in case he’s real, and you know him, put in a good word for my brother would you? He’s a good kid.”

Wow, this kid is the greatest. “Hey Kid, if I do see Santa I’ll tell him you and your brother are the greatest couple a kids I ever met. O.K.”

“Thanks man. Hey did you really say I had to give him my playboys?”

I can’t hold in my laughter, and he leaves after promising an ass whoopin’ for a certain little angel. Me and my substitute elf close up shop and I’m just giddy. Then I ask about Elfie.

“How’s Mr. Elfie doin’ anyway?”

“That man of mine got just what he deserves. The clinic told him he can’t be liftin’ kids all day if he wants to be able to lift his own.”

“Bad back eh?”

“You don’t know the half of it. He says he’ll get it fixed when he’s done with school and we have more money, and then he blows all this holiday money on presents for the kids.”

“Is it really that much money?”

She fixes me with a look. “You Santas sure are dense. Your security elves get double the pay you get, especially in run down malls like this. Hell when I saw his first check I thought he was guarding the president. A mall Santa got hisself beat up one year by an angry parent who couldn’t afford all the crap her kid was asking for.

Seeing this fat white fool promising her kid more and more, knowing he wasn’t gonna see the kid again but would get all the credit just got to be too much and she went crazy on him. The children in line were traumatized for life and the mall got dragged into court. They must have paid out big cuz it was a few years before they brought in Santa again, and that’s when the security elf was born.”

“You mentioned the clinic, can’t they take care of Elfie?”

“Son, you ever been to a free clinic?”

I had. I spent all day being saved by a born again punk rocker in the lobby while they waited for proof that I was poor enough to receive attention, as if anyone who could afford real medical care would opt for this mess. I finally saw a doctor who didn’t speak the same language as me so he just prescribed penicillin and sent me on my way. The penicillin did not help my twisted ankle.

“Yeah, I see your point.” I said, feeling silly for my suggestion.

“Well I better get home and take care of his lame ass. You have a merry Christmas. Elfie wanted you to know, he thinks you’re the best Santa he’s ever worked with.”

“Well you tell him I prefer big black Santas, and give him this.”
I’d gotten him a wooden apple with a worm in it that said “Worlds Greatest Teacher” on the side.

On my way to the bar I think about Elfie, and all those other fool parents trying to make sure their babies get as much loot from old St. Nick as all those little rich boys. I remember my parents, and how tight money was when I was a kid. I got my KISS army skateboard, my Atari and many, many science kits regardless. I wish I could do something for my big elf buddy, and I’m beginning to hate this holy day.

I get to the bar depressed as hell and ready to rock. I drop four dollars in the jukebox and programmed it to play “Sabbath bloody Sabbath” all night, Eagles and Christmas music be damned. After the third repeat has started and I’ve had two shots of cheap whiskey per play, some bastard in a red suit resets the jukebox by pullin’ the plug. Hotel California blares from the speakers and I have had enough.

“You Santas all suck. Christmas sucks. You all help to feed this greedy corporate sponsored crap of a holiday, guilting parents into spending money they don’t have. And do they even get a thank you for it? Hell no! All the thanks go to us fat drunken idiots. Well I hope you all get jack for Christmas, cuz you deserve it you pathetic opportunistic drunk morons.”

None of this particularly shocks or upsets them and they all go back to their drinkin’, carolin’ and pool playin’. That is until I deliver the conclusion of my diatribe, which brings the house down.

“The Eagles Suck.”

Fists come flying. I am surrounded by white and red. I’m being hit and kicked by gloved hands and booted feet. Shawn and Nick jump in to defend me. Two wannabe King of the Santas jump Nick and work him over, pulling on his beautiful beard, his housewife du-jour beating them with her purse. Shawn gets punched in the gut, and his elf jumps in to defend him. His elf is quite handy with the fists and I’m thinking us renegade Santas might take the advantage until I notice blue mixing with the red and white.

The bartender has called the cops and they are efficiently tossing Santas left and right. I am unanimously pinpointed as the troublemaker and I think the cops may have even been informed of my blasphemous comment on the Eagles, for my handcuffs are very tight. (Cops love the Eagles almost as much as Santas do.)
The local news is waiting outside as I am escorted to the squad car.

“Go ahead, put it on the news. Let all the little angels see what a dirt bag Santa is. I sold their presents to buy lap dances and gin. Show ‘em.”

This makes me even less popular with the police who stop in an alley to give me a little nonverbal talking to. My beard is turning pink from my bleeding nose and bottom lip by the time I get to jail. Would you believe it the bastards are booking me with assaulting them? I guess my face gave their fist a pretty good working over.

I sit in a full cell. Believe it or not Santa gets a fair amount of respect from cellmates or else I’m respected for being a ruthless assaulter of cops. At any rate I am given the supreme privilege of a seat on the cold metal bench instead of the cold cement floor. An officer with a clipboard shows up and begins calling names. I watch terrified as the named go into the hall and are made to suffer horrible indignations involving latex gloves and a flashlight. There is much coughing. The officer calling the names must see how terrified I am and he’s enjoying it. I’m the last one in the cell and he smiles at me.

“One name left on the list buddy!”

“Oh god almighty, forgive me for my atheism, please let me not meet the gloved hand. I’ll try to be better at celebrating your boys’ birthday, I swear”

The last name is called. “Jose Jimenez”

Jose Jimenez? I’m not Jose Jimenez!
“Ha, I’m not Jose Jimenez!”


“Look at me. Do I look like I could possibly be Jose Jimenez?”

“What the…I’ll be back”

And he leaves. I’m banging out a funky beat on the metal bench and singin’ I’m so darn happy to still have a wee bit o’ dignity.

A voice from under the bench scares the hell out of me. “Chut de hell up.”
“Jose? Jose Jimenez?”

Jose, wondering how I know his name peeks out from under the bench and his blood shot eyes get huge as he spots this bloody Santa.

“Santa Claus?”

He crawls (drunkenly) out from under the bench.

“Yeah man, hey you’re lucky you passed out man. They were gonna search you good.”
He looks around the empty cell and is obviously freaked out, probably wondering how he ended up alone with Santa Claus in a jail cell.

“Wow! Santa.”

He sits and stares for a long while. He then inches closer.



“Can I tell you what I want for Christmas?”

“Um, Sure, why not”

“Santa, can I sit in your lap?”

Now Jose isn’t just drank too much at the office party drunk. Jose is live under the freeway, vodka breakfast, what's my name drunk with matching filth.

I’m about to say “No Way, Jose!” when I remember my promise to God. I have an awful lot of catholic guilt for an atheist.

“Alright I’ll do it but after this we’re even.” I say to the big man upstairs.

“Huh?” says Jose.

“Go ahead.”

“Go ahead what.”

“Go ahead and sit in my lap!”

“O.K.” he says, now doing me a favor.

He walks sideway, and plops drunkenly on my lap. He smells like every nasty ally in town rolled up in one and I nearly choke.

“O.K. Santa. I want…I don’t know what I want.”

Oh man, there’d better be a god. “How about a bottle of Jack Daniels?”

“No, I want to quit drinkin’ man. It’s screwed up my whole life.” At this Jose starts crying. Drunken tears tend to skip the eyes and come straight out of the nose.

“All right, listen Jose. When you get out of here go to the church at 24th and L Street and tell them you want to get sober. They’ll help you out. Whenever you want a drink you remember old Santa Claus comin’ to visit you in the drunk tank.”

“O.K. Santa. I’m gonna do it. I’m really gonna do it!” He’s getting too darn comfortable on my lap. “Is there anything else you’d like Jose?”

“Yeah. Santa, can I have a cigarette?”

I have a whole pack in my pocket. I gave him the pack. “Anything else?”

“Got a light?”

I give him a light.

“Santa this is the greatest Christmas of my entire life” He says, blubbering.

I look back at this crying stinky drunk man sitting on my lap in a cold jail cell on Christmas Eve and tell him honestly,

“Mine too, Jose, Mine too.”

Yuppie Birth Scene

Or: "Mommy, where do high quality name brand consumer products come from?"

Geoffrey grabbed the overnight bag from the closet by door and rushed to start the Saab warming. Geoffrey and Sybil had ordered the bag from “Modern Mommy” magazine and they’d kept it ready and waiting for the last month; waiting for this special night. And here at last it was. Sybil made her way to the car, stopping to complain, “I really hoped we would have the S.U.V. by now. I wanted to arrive at the hospital in style.”

“Honey! This is car is a classic. Besides, we decided to wait until the baby passed the messy stage before getting a new car. And remember, it was you who decided we should wait and not find out the gender ahead of time, which means we have no idea what color interior would be appropriate.”

Geoff and Sybil put on the Baby Bach tape and drove to the hospital, Sybil humming along with the great composer, Geoff secretly wishing for The Eagles greatest hits CD.

At the hospital, in the new, high tech but homey, birthing room Sybil lay breathing heavily and, knowing that her hair was a wreck she decided that not filming the birth was indeed the right idea even if they had just bought a brand new digital camcorder.

Geoff paced back and forth trying to remember his instructions but being distracted by his wife’s faulty breathing. Good God, did she pay any attention to our Lamaze instructor? Geoff certainly had, Sybil suggesting he maybe paid a bit more attention to the attractive, petite, young woman than was required. Where the hell is that Doctor? Sybil’s Spinning instructor, Phoebe had suggested this Doctor. He was, in
Geoff’s mind more of a glorified midwife. The Doctor had trained Geoff to perform the delivery, the Doctor serving as advisor and assistant. He would of course take over in case of an emergency. Apparently this is the way birth was done these days; no drugs, no doctor, and yet somehow more expensive than ever.

The doctor entered the room at last, showing no sign of being rushed. Sorry to interrupt your golf game Doc.

“Well how are we doing here?” the Doctor asked nobody in particular as he communed with various pieces of chiming, beeping medical equipment.

“Well Doc, We’re having a baby!” Geoff answered back sharply, letting his impatience show.

The Doctor, unfazed, checked on Sybil. “Breathing good Sybil.” She was for once relieved at his impersonal nature. Without any make up she preferred not to be looked in the eye.

“Everything seems just fine.” The Doctor didn’t give Geoff a chance to start with the barrage of questions, his attention occupied instead by his cell phone as it began ringing to the tune of The Eagle’s hit, Hotel California. While Geoff certainly appreciated the choice of tunes this hardly seemed the time to be receiving phone calls.

“Yeah, I got in a full eighteen this morning. No, absolutely not. Are you kidding me, my handicap hasn’t been that high this decade. Oh, you are on. I suppose you’ll want to hit from the lady’s tee. Where’s that feminist spirit now?”

Geoff almost didn’t notice the fevered pitch of Sybil’s breathing as he strained to hear what course the Doctor played. He was sure there was some hidden, elite course in this town; though years of searching had so far proved fruitless. His wife’s breathing began to drown out the doctor’s chatter.

“Uh, Doc, I think we’re happening here. Doc, it’s time. Doc!”

“Alright honey, I’ll see you in just a bit. Yes the Motel 7. Right, right, off of the Five. OK sweetie. No, you. No, no You.”

“Doc, Doc, Come on!”

“Alright baby, I gotta go, I got one of them. Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. Ok, you hang up. No, you. OK on three…one…two…three! You didn’t hang up.”


“I’ll see you there babe. OK, Geoff how we doing?”

“We are stressed the heck out, Doc. I’m not so sure about this. Maybe you should just do the delivery. I mean are you really sure it’s a good idea for me to deliver my own child?”

“Sure, yeah. I mean if that’s what you want.”

“IF THAT’S WHAT I WANT?!? Doctor, this was your idea. You talked us into this. For nine months now!”

“Yes, Yes, Geoff come” The doctor put his arm around Geoff’s shoulders reassuringly as he pulled a card out of his coat pocket and read aloud convincingly. “Shouldn’t you, The father, be the one to bring your child into the world. Why should some doctor be the first person your child sees as he begins his life? Don’t you want to introduce your child to the world? Don’t you want the excitement of being the one to discover the sex of your child? Don’t you…Geoff?”

“Oh Geeze, you’re right Doc. I’m sorry. I feel better. Let’s do this Doc.” Geoff felt like the Doctor had spoken to him as a peer, an equal, a golf buddy. He stepped up to the plate with an extra bounce in his step and prepared to greet his heir.

“Breathe honey, Breathe! No breathe. No, no, no, not like that. What are you doing? Breathe! Like the instructor said, like she taught you!” Sybil was making them both look bad with this inexcusably sloppy performance, and Geoff saw his chances of golfing with the good Doctor slipping through his fingers. “DIDN’T YOU PAY ATTENTION IN THAT CLASS AT ALL!”

The doctor grabbed hold of Geoff and with a few good shakes, and one well-placed slap had Geoff ready to listen to reason. “Geoff, supportive. Now is the time to be supportive. Give her your strength Geoff. Help her to stay calm.”

“Yes! Supportive! Yes! And strength. Give her strength. Yes!” Geoff returned to his post, giving his wife a reassuring Pat on the knee and a double thumbs up. “Good breathing sweetie. Good breathing.”

The doctor gave Geoff a smile that just smacked of tee time. With renewed confidence Geoff realized the big moment had arrived. Geoff started his sentence ahead of time “It’s…” so he could announce the sex of their child at quickly as possible. Sybil pushed, and breathed and pushed. “It’s…It’s a…a…” It was a top of the line, surround sound, name brand DVD player and it landed in Geoff’s hands squarely. Geoff went instantly into shock as he stared desperately at the Doctor.

“Hey, It’s a Sony!” The doctor seemed thrilled. “Excuse me there, Geoff, just gotta unplug the cord here and…there you go. Oh wow, what a beauty.” Geoff snapped back into reality, and realized Sybil was still pushing, seemingly unaware that she had made any kind of delivery. Geoff wondered if more surprises were en route and he couldn’t help but notice the Doctor’s impressed tone as he listed the appliance’s many features.

“Keep pushing there, honey, keep pushing. Oh, and keep your eyes closed sweet. Good, good, keep them eyes closed and PUSH”
Push she did, as Geoff delivered a Nine Iron, followed by a sand wedge, several woods, eventually what seemed to be a full set of very nice golf clubs. The doctor excitedly called for his nurse to bring in his spare golf bag which he began filling. Putting in the last of the clubs the Doctor looked up expectantly, then worriedly. “Uh, Geoff, I think we may have a problem here.”

“A problem! A problem! It took you till now to decide we’ve got a problem. What pray tell could THAT BE?”

“No Putter!”

And with a grunt and a push Sybil allayed the good doctors worry as she all but launched a putter into the world, hitting her husband in the head.

Geoff got himself off the ground, and was near returning to it as he tried to grasp the situation at hand. Rubbing the rising bump on his forehead Geoff noticed the Doctor gripping the handle of a driver lovingly. Geoff felt a tinge of paternal pride.

“Those are good clubs eh Doc.”

“Teitleist Gold Line. These are what I play at…at the club.” The Doctor almost slipped there and Geoff seized the opportunity.

“You think, maybe I could take in a round with ya some weekend Doc?”

The good doctor hesitated and then quickly changed the subject, “uh, I think we got more coming there, Geoff.”

And indeed they did have more coming. With a minimum of assistance, but plenty of encouragement from the medical professional Geoffrey delivered; A bottle of wine-
“An excellent year here, Geoff” a fabulous trip to Mazatlan-“Oh, Matzatlan is great this time of year”, a portable TV- “Oh man this would go great in my Range Rover!”, a cell phone- “Wow, this phone has games, ha ha, that’s Space Invaders! Excellent!”. And a complete set of Cut-Co gourmet knives- “Oh buddy, you’re like a real chef with these!”

Sybil seemed to think she was just having one helluva labor and remained unaware of any strangeness. Though she did ask occasionally what was happening, she accepted the “Keep pushing, your’re doing great, keep pushing” that was offered in response.

She began pushing again, suddenly. Geoff rushed to deliver a sharpening stone or a palm pilot or one of those cool lights that let you read in bed. He was shocked when he was instead pelted in the face by thinly sliced cucumbers, then carrot slices, then diced onions. He turned to the doctor, confusion showing clearly on his face, along with some tears. Onions always had this effect on him.

“You know, I think I know what we’ve got here!” the doctor offered reassuringly, as he reached in and helped Geoff with the delivery. “Ah, just as I thought, A Salad Shooter. These things really come in handy.”

Geoff struggled to keep up with the Doctor in the cool and calm department, but the weirdness of the situation was getting to him. He really began to lose it when his wife opened her eyes and realized something was amiss.

“I demand to know what’s going on!”

”Oh God, Oh God! Doc, she wants to know what’s going on. I don’t know what to tell her. Oh God, What Do I Tell Her?”

“Calm down, Geoff. Keep it together. Now is the most important time to keep your cool. Now listen Geoff, I want you to be sweet and kind. Encourage her Jeff, and hey, you just may get a Rolex out of this!”

“OK, gentle, sweet, Rolex! Well honey, you’re doing great, really! That breathing, my god, top rate, wouldn’t you say Doctor!”

“Most definitely. Some of the finest I’ve seen.”

“Yes, very good. So, um well…there’ve been some complications”. Geoff slipped using the C word in the birthing room and Sybil’s eyes grew large, her breathe panicky. “No, sweetie, nothing bad, um, good complications.”

“Good complications? What the hell is a good complication?”

“Well it’s just that…well…honey…WE GOT SOME REALY GREAT STUFF DOWN HERE!”
Now Sybil was really confused. She sat up, and saw the booty that had amassed at the foot of the bed.

“Its all name brand sweetheart” Geoff spouted, unable contain his enthusiasm any longer.

“Top of the line, Sybil.” the doctor helped.
Sybil looked, dazed and confused and then recognition set in. She’d seen these exact items grouped together before. Understanding flashed on her face and she caught herself revealing too much as she muttered aloud, “Oops!”

“Oops?” Geoff reeled at the reaction. “What Oops? Oops? Sybil! What did you do?”

“Well, you remember when we were trying to conceive?”

“Yes, Yes of course I do”

“And we were making love?”

“Yeah, I remember” My god, do women have no sense of privacy?

“And we had the TV on, to the home shopping network?.”

“Yes. It was just for the volume so the neighbors wouldn’t hear.” Geoff explained to the Doctor who seemed suddenly quite interested.

Sybil continued, guiltily, “Well…I lied! I was watching it.”

“You WHAT? Well I was making love to you, you were watching television?” Did I just hear that nosey Doctor snicker?

“Well it wasn’t exactly romantic. I mean, you were stuffing pillows under my ass, taking my temperature, making sure we did it at the right time of day on the right days!” Geoff looked to the Doctor, who had instructed him to do just these things, and received a satisfied nod as Sybil read her list. “Making me stand on my head.
And I still don’t see how that rubber thing with the spikes was gonna help us conceive!”

“Rubber thing?” the Doctor asked, eye brows raised.

“She’s delirious! So you were bored. Great. You were bored…So YOU SHOPPED? She shopped!”

“Well she’s right, it doesn’t sound very romantic.”

“Oh, don’t you talk to me about romantic Mr. Rolex!”

“Hey, Rolexes are romantic.”

Just then Sybil gave a loud groan and Geoff’s nurturing instincts retuned. “Honey, forget all that. It’s not important now. You just do your breathing, and push sweetheart, push!” and with a good solid push Geoff held in his hands a most beautiful offspring which he held up for his loving wife to admire.

“Honey, it’s the Toaster!”

“Yes!” she answered, full of pride, “The one we wanted, the one with the extra wide slots!”

And the couple joined hands as they recited the ad copy aloud, “For Bagels.”
Then Geoff’s hand received a squeeze that threatened damage to his fingers. There was more!

Geoff got into position. Sybil pushed and breathed and pushed. Geoff coached with all his might. A bright white light shone into Geoff’s face.

“What is it?” Screamed Sybil.

“Push!” Yelled Geoff.

“What is it?”



Geoff, his face lit by the ever increasing light emanating from his beloved’s womb, appeared to her over her knees full of excitement and fear.

“Honey, you know that SUV you’ve been wanting!?”


She had survived two abusive marriages. She had lived on the streets. She’d been in one of the worst nursing homes in the state. Now she lived at the Pines on H st. and she’d never had it so good.

She went that morning on her daily walk, picked up her one can of cat food from the corner store, sat at the small park on P st. with the ugly fenced off city storage area in the middle, and caught her breath. She was heading home when she decided to venture into the fish store. She spent a good hour and a half looking at the fish, many of which she’d recognized from watching the nature channel (always what was playing in the lobby of the Pines).

She paused when she came across the betas. All these colorful little fish each floating effortlessly in it’s own clean little bowl. Rows of bowl sat on three glass shelves. They looked to her like jewels. She picked the prettiest two, and she had excellent taste. Not going for the flashy reds and blues like most, but seeking out the subtle and unusual; one soft yellow with smoky gray fins and one deep purple, almost black really. She chose these two and had the clerk bag them up for her. She paid with exact change and took them in their little bags.

She walked only a block before stopping to sit on the curb and admire her little jewels. She poured one into the others bag and then waited. She didn’t have to wait long. Just like she’d seen on the TV. The two began to threaten one another, flaring out their gills and circling and then to fight. Fins were torn, shred. They’d part, resting. The shorter finned purple one definitely seemed to have the advantage, the yellow one cowering at the bottom of the bag. They rested for what seemed to her like an eternity. The purple one then easily finished the job. She poured him out onto the sidewalk. He flopped for a minute and then just lay there looking stuck to the ground.

As she watched him die slowly she muttered under her breath, “fucker!”