Just in time for Christmas, the little shopper of horrors

November 24, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Staff Writer

There are so many annoying people walking around today that it's hard to pick out any one group and say: "There! Those people are the most annoying people on earth."

Still, I think we'd all agree that vying for top honors in this category are those grimly efficient souls who have already -- it's hard to even visualize this, let alone write it -- completed their Christmas shopping.

I'm sure you've had the misfortune of knowing someone like this.

This is the person you invite over for dinner and somehow the conversation gets around to the holidays, and you groan: "Boy, I'm not looking forward to fighting my way through the malls."

Which is when this person flashes that eerie, Florence Henderson-talks-about-Wessonality grin and chirps: "Oh, I'm already done with my Christmas shopping!"

Unfortunately, there is rarely a two-by-four handy with which to whack this person over the head.

So you just sit there and smile painfully as she resumes placing perfect forkfuls of roast beef in her mouth.

Then you spend the rest of the evening wondering how your social life declined to such an extent that you've actually taken to dining with a shameless neurotic who views Christmas not as a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of Christ, but as an opportunity to max out all her credit cards before Thanksgiving.

I know a woman who has not only done all her Christmas shopping, but has also -- this is really nauseating -- wrapped every single gift!

Of course, everyone who hears this hates the woman.

Normally, I would tell you her name so you could hate her, too. But she made me promise not to reveal it. However, I will hate her for you, if that helps.

At the risk of sounding sexist, the vast majority of those annoying people who have completed their Christmas shopping are women.

Of course, there are all sorts of good reasons for this: Women do the bulk of the Christmas shopping in most families, women tend to be more organized, selfless, caring, kind, so on and so forth.

Plus there is this factor: Most men are inconsiderate pigs who would wait until 9:45 p.m. Christmas Eve before bursting into a toy store and barking at the startled sales clerk: "THOSE LITTLE GUYS WITH THE GOOFY COSTUMES . . . WHAT ARE THEY, POWER RANGERS?! YOU GOT ANY OF THEM?!"

The point is, we're not picking on people who have done their Christmas shopping just because they're mostly women.

It's just that you rarely hear of men who are quite that obsessive or . . . never mind. Let's just drop it, OK?

As usual at this time of year, entire forests are being decimated in order for columnists and editorial writers to whine that, here it's only Thanksgiving and department stores are already in full Christmas mode, with decorations and holiday music such as the irritating "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

There will be no such whining in this space.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I like to whine as much as the next columnist.

And there's nothing like seeing 40 square acres of virgin blue spruce mowed down just to get your whining across to the newspaper-reading public.

But the fact is, the holiday shopping season keeps beginning earlier and earlier for one simple reason: because that's what people want. Really. They have studies done by department stores and shopping malls that show this.

Me, I see a time when the holiday season will officially begin around, oh, Labor Day.

This means that by the first week in September, you'll be able to turn on the 6 o'clock news and see footage of wary toddlers climbing on Santa's knee in shopping malls, as well as videotape of Santa visiting orphanages, veterans hospitals, nursing homes and oncology units.

By the time the kids go back to school, newspaper "lifestyle" sections will be pumping out breathless pieces on "Hot New Toys for the Kiddies This Christmas!" and "15 Great Tips for Holiday Entertaining!"

Plus they'll be running those little boxes in the bottom left-hand corner of the page that feature a head shot of a smiling, rosy-cheeked Santa with the warning: "Only 109 shopping days till Christmas!"

And of course, everywhere you go you'll hear Christmas music, the good stuff, yes, but mostly the bad, songs like "Jingle Bells" as sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks in that squeaky, amphetamine-fueled, chipmunky voice.

You talk about annoying . . .

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