TIS THE SEASON to be merry, as they say, but this year the world is too much with us. Prospects of recession. War in the gulf. Homicide epidemic at home. And empty pockets with which to greet Santa.
Went to Santa's workshop to buy brother Bob a gift. For years have entertained notion of presenting him with miracle compact disc player that plays "Art of Fugue," M. C. Hammer and Lawrence Welk polkas with equal aplomb.
Asked Santa's helper how much was this very nice looking miracle compact disc player.
"That is on special sale this week only," he said. "Just $8,995.50, plus tax, and we gift wrap for you."
" . . . ! "
"Just kidding," he said. "Perhaps you'd prefer something like this?" he asked, proffering a gizmo that looked like a cross between a . . . well, to tell the truth it didn't really look like a cross between a toaster oven and a clock radio but you never know, do you?
"Why does that look like a toaster oven or a clock radio?" I asked. "I thought it was supposed to play music."
"It does play music," Santa's helper replied. "It also toasts bread and wakes you up in the morning. Isn't that clever? Just the thing for this time of year."
Thoughts wandered to prospects of recession, war in gulf, homicide epidemic at home, empty pockets, toast crumbs in bed after wake-up concert.
"Actually, that's not exactly what I had in mind," I said. "Don't you have something that's a little more, uh, shall we say basic in the way of a miracle compact disc player, pricewise I mean?"
"Certainly," replied Santa's helper. "Have you heard the Whadiamacallit SMG 3001a.2 with triple analog-to-digital converters and 47,000 times oversampling?"
Santa's helper plugged in the Whadiamacallit and slipped a shiny silver disc into the playback drawer. Immediately the workshop filled with a wonderful polka rendition of "O Come all Ye Faithful" played by Lawrence Welk and his orchestra.
"Gee, that sounds great," I said. "how much is it?"
"Actually, this is not for sale," said Santa's helper. "We just use it to demonstrate what can be done on a budget in the way of miracle compact disc players. But I can give you something that is virtually sonically identical to this little jewel for only $65, plus tax."
I was skeptical, to say the least.
"What is it," I said finally.
Santa's helper took me to another part of the shop, then rummaged around inside a big bag of toys lying on a counter. He pulled out a beautifully constructed miracle compact disc player with knurled push-button controls, a burnished bronze faceplate and red and green LED displays. Then he touched a button and the workshop reverberated with Handel's "Water Musik."
"Hey, that's fantastic!" I exclaimed. "You only want $65 dollars for this? I'll take it."
"Fine, but we don't gift wrap these, I'm sure you can understand why," said Santa's helper. "These are sold strictly 'as-is' ."
Not to worry, I thought. I paid, put the miracle compact disc player under my arm and carried it out to the car.
"Wait 'till brother Bob hears this," I thought. "I can't believe Santa sold it so cheap."
Driving home, joy over shrewd purchase banished worries of recession, war in gulf, homicide epidemic and significantly emptier pockets than one hour earlier. 'Tis the season to be jolly, sang I. Ho ho ho.
Successfully wrap and ribbon miracle compact disc player in manner suitable for giving. Place under tree. Faithful loving companion dog Bridget has unfortunate accident under tree. Successfully rewrap and reribbon, etc., etc. Wait for Xmas day.
While waiting, thoughts stubbornly return to prospects of recession, gulf war, homicide epidemic, empty pockets. Wonder whether Handel's "Water Music" will have discernible effect on state of world and associated human tendency to muck things up. Hope so, but can't count on it.
Still waiting. Consider possibility "Water Music" played by DTC brother Bob on $65 miracle compact disc player could waft on cosmic ethers over to Saddam's place, causing change of heart. Or waft next through wall to nearby crack den, effecting miraculous resolution among inhabitants to postpone indefinitely contemplated homicide. Hope so, but can't count on it.
Still waiting. Wonder if amid current world miseries, miracle compact disc player will bring small glow to heart of intended recipient, thereby fortifying resolve to face impending global perils with modicum of manly forthrightness, generosity and good cheer. Shoo dog from under tree. Cross fingers.
Shop for value and keep your fingers crossed