Category Archives: My Life

Leah, Ronnie and Amy’s IKEA Adventure

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About 2 years ago IKEA opened a store in downtown St. Louis. It was as if the Pope had opened a new Sistine Chapel on Vandeventer Avenue. That’s what it’s like living in St. Louis. These people get all excited about a new furniture store. And yet they can’t keep a Major League Football team around.

Unlike the maddening masses, I did not rush out to check out the new IKEA. For one thing, I don’t need any shelves. For another, I’m not all that interested in looking at furniture. Third, I knew it would be crazy crowded because, really, what else are people in St. Louis going to do? And finally, it’s downtown, and I only go downtown for shows at the Fox and the occasional visit to Forest Park and the Zoo.

Still, I admit I was curious. We even contemplated going there one weekend when I had family in town, but then we thought of something better to do. So, when co-workers Amy and Leah were discussing going to IKEA on Saturday morning so that Leah could buy plates and silverware, I invited myself along. They pretended “that would be wonderful!” and we agreed to meet at 8:30 a.m.

(Now you may think it rude that I invite myself to join other people’s outings — and it is — but here’s the thing: if I hadn’t invited myself to join Rob Smith’s college church group spring break trip to Washington, D.C., I never would’ve met my wife. So basically, if you don’t want me to attend your function, don’t let me know about it.)

000_0376Now, I wasn’t 100 percent sure I would be able to join in because I had trivia the night before and that means getting home late and I certainly wasn’t going to set an alarm to get up early on Saturday to go to IKEA, so I told them if I overslept to go without me. But I don’t oversleep anymore because I now sleep with a face-hugging, air-blowing monster on my head (more on that later) that causes me to wake up screaming every morning around 5 a.m.

I get to the office around 8:15 and soon we’re piled into Leah’s vehicle and on the road. (I wouldn’t have gone if I had to drive, besides, Leah keeps a rock in her car so I felt pretty safe against any downtown thugs.) We did at one point pass a truck with what appeared to be bullet holes all along the side. Leah was intrigued but I advised her not to draw attention to ourselves. Why I had to point that out, I do not know.

17635275_10155015767775856_3990794095748326004_oWe arrived just as the place was opening. The parking lot was fairly empty, a state it would not be in for long. Our first stop was breakfast at the cafeteria. Jonathan had got me all excited the day before by informing me that IKEA offers a $1 breakfast. I was later informed it was a $2 breakfast. Turns out they had both, but we all decided to splurge and ordered the $2 breakfast. Then we blew almost the same amount of money on a glass of lingonberry juice. Still, can’t complain about a pretty decent $4 breakfast.

After breakfast — shopping! I was told not to fall behind but there was little chance of that happening given that I don’t stop to look at stuff. I knew to expect dawdling because I’ve shopped with women before, and my wife is a champion dawdler. She would’ve easily spent an hour just in one section.

17758461_10155015767435856_8082152607105548032_oSo what can I say about IKEA? It was everything I dreamed it would be — it was a furniture store. A well designed and attractive furniture store, but still … furniture. It was basically Bed, Bath and Beyond on a larger scale. They had some neat lighting items and some funky cabinets but really, who cares? If I need new home fixings, I’ll send Laurie out to buy them. We wandered about for almost 2 hours and Leah found her dishes and silverware and Amy bought a few things. I occasionally found furniture displays where I could stop and rest my weary bones.

000_0377The later it got, the more crowded it got. The arrow-lighted pathway that guides you through the place started to turn into a forced march if you stayed on the path (and you really should stay on the path). By the end it felt like we were cattle walking through a chute on our way to slaughter. Turned out it was just the check-out aisles.

They had a large display of cinnamon buns right before the check-out aisles, and since I didn’t have anything to show for my outing, and since my son loves cinnamon buns (and who could possibly make better cinnamon buns than IKEA?), I decided to pick up a six-pack. On the way out the door, Amy and Leah decided they wanted frozen yogurt cones.

“Are you sure you should be eating a frozen yogurt cone while driving on Highway 40?” I asked.

“I don’t see the problem,” Leah responded.

I’m pretty sure the next time Amy and Leah decide to do anything, they won’t talk about it in my presence.

 

 

 

 

 

We Are The (Trivia) Champions…Finally…Sort of

For 12 long years, I have conned some of my friends into taking part in an evening long game of trivial pursuit as part of an effort to raise money for my son’s school, now adult program — The Center for Autism Education.

It’s been fun. And fattening (snacks are a requirement of this business). Many teammates have come and gone over the years. Corralling the right combination of 16 people for 2 tables is always a challenge. Every year. I’m pretty sure I’ve never worked with the same team of 8 more than once.

This year was different. One night I came home from a movie to find that Laurie had started a Facebook message chain with the usual suspects about trivia night. And then she put Stevie and Trent in charge of the two teams. “This probably won’t end well,” I said to myself. But hey, I figured I’d just sit back and watch the mess unfold. Let someone else deal with it for a change.

There was the usual non-committal committals, followed by the committal, followed by the backing out (and that was just Erica). But a few days before showtime Stevie had managed to put it all together. I was impressed, and a little sad that it all didn’t blow up in everyone’s faces without my running things.

I was put on Trent’s team, because God hates me, but I was still determined to do my best. I showed up promptly. No one else on my team did — except Ann, who actually arrived first. Still, everyone managed to show up before the game started — except Yellow, who naturally blamed Tim.

Now for 12 long years, we’ve been playing trivia, and never have we won (Yes, Spaulding’s team won once, but I’m talking about teams that I put together). We do OK — we usually finish in the top half of the 30+ teams that compete, but I don’t believe we ever made it to the final four.

And that’s OK. I’ve never been a terribly competitive guy. We’re not in it to win it, we’re there to raise money and have a good time and eat too much and drink watered-down beer. It’s tradition.

Every trivia night is different. Some years the questions are hard, most years they’re mostly easy. This year the questions were strangely easy. It also helped that most of the categories dealt with music and movies — our strong suit. But even the sports category had questions that I could answer. Not many, but with help from the others we put in a decent show.

By the end of the night (which — as usual — took  F O R E V E R, but that’s a rant I’ve made before and will now briefly make again in the hopes that someone in charge reads this: CAE Trivia Night runs way too long. There’s always some thing they come up with to drag out the proceedings. It used to be the live auction. This year it was horse races. At one point I noted that they should stop calling it Trivia Night and call it Game Night with Occasional Pauses for Trivia.) the big winner was – – Team Stevie! And in second place — Team Trent!

Now, I don’t want to sound bitter and petty but we all know I am bitter and petty, so yes, we were cheated. I know of at two questions that we were denied points for (and we lost by two points) because our judge must have been one of those stickler-for-details types.

But of course the biggest betrayal of all was during the “Musicians with Animal Names” category. The song was “I Love a Rainy Night.” The answer, obviously, was Eddie Rabbit. When we finished the round I handed the sheet to Trent to take up to the judging stand. On her way she stopped by Team Stevie for a chat. The next thing I know she’s hopping up and down, making bunny ears with her hands.

I hear Trent also works for the Russians.

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At any rate, it was good to finally win — or sort of win — after all these years. Not that I care about winning, mind you.

 

 

 

Gone: Chuck Berry

Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
Oh Maybellene , why can’t you be true?
You done started back doin’ the things you used to do

No particular place to go,
So we parked way out on the Kokomo
The night was young and the moon was bold
So we both decided to take a stroll
Can you imagine the way I felt?
I couldn’t unfasten her safety belt!

Ridin’ along in my calaboose
Still tryin’ to get her belt unloose
All the way home I held a grudge,
But the safety belt, it wouldn’t budge

“C’est la vie,” say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

Way back in history three thousand years
In fact every since the world began
There’s been a whole lot of good women sheddin’ tears
For a brown eyed handsome man

Runnin’ to and fro, hard workin’ at the mill
Never failed in the mail, yet come a rotten bill
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in

All the cats wanna dance with sweet little sixteen

Just let me hear some of that
Rock And Roll Music
Any old way you choose it
It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it
Any old time you use it
It’s gotta be Rock And Roll Music
If you want to dance with me
If you want to dance with me

When I was a little bitty boy
my grandmother bought me a cute little toy
Silver bells hangin’ on a string
she told me it was my ding a ling

My ding a ling, my ding a ling
I want to play with my ding a ling
My ding a ling, my ding a ling
I want to play with my ding a ling

Now you can’t catch me
No, baby, you can’t catch me
‘Cause if you get too close, you know I’m gone like a cool breeze

Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You study’ em hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you aloneRing ring goes the bell
The cook in the lunchroom’s ready to sell
You’re lucky if you can find a seat
You’re fortunate if you have time to eat
Back in the classroom open you books
Gee but the teacher don’t know
How mean she looks

imagesSoon as three o’clock rolls around
You finally lay your burden down
Close up your books, get out of your seat

Down the halls and into the street
Up to the corner and ’round the bend
Right to the juke joint you go in

Drop the coin right into the slot
You gotta hear something that’s really hot

With the one you love you’re makin’ romance
All day long you been
Wantin’ to dance
Feelin’ the music from head to toe
‘Round and ’round and ’round you go

Drop the coin right into the slot
You gotta hear something that’s really hot

Hail, hail rock’n’roll
Deliver me from the days of old
Long live rock’n’roll
The beat of the drum is loud and bold
Rock rock rock’n’roll
The feelin’ is there body and soul

Sometimes I will, then again I think I won’t
Sometimes I will, then again I think I won’t
Sometimes I do, then again I think I don’t

Well, I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the U.S.A.
Yes. I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the U.S.A.
Anything you want, we got right here in the U.S.A.

Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
Help me find a party that tried to get in touch with me
She could not leave a number, but I know who placed the call
‘Cause my uncle took a message, and he wrote it on the wall

Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
She’s the only one who’d call me here from Memphis, Tennessee
Her home is on the south side, high upon a ridge
Just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge

Last time I saw Marie, she was wavin’ me goodbye
With “hurry-home” drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
But we were pulled apart, because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis, Tennessee

Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
Marie is only six years old, information, please
Try to put me through to her in Memphis, Tennessee

Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news

His mother told him, “Someday you will be a man,
And you will be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down.
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying ‘Johnny B. Goode tonight’

To Sleep, To Snore No More

Back when America was great, people snored. It was natural, nobody made a big deal out of it. Oh sure, people who didn’t snore and lived with people who did usually complained, but there was really nothing they could do about it.

And then…science. And suddenly snoring wasn’t snoring anymore, it was “sleep apnea.” And while it wouldn’t kill you, it could help lead to your early demise — thorough heart disease or diabetes or your spouse beating you to death with her pillow.

I have been told that I snore. I believe this to be “fake news” because I have never personally heard myself snore. Plenty of people have told me I snore, but they could be lying. Still, I do wonder sometimes why I get up in the morning and The Wife is sleeping on the couch, or why I’ve been banned from camping out with my friends.

4128335-7065079024-tumbl-1But lately I’ve been having second thoughts. I’m tired all the time. If I sit still for more than 10 minutes I black out. Every afternoon I come home from work, sit down on the couch, and fall asleep. I can’t make it through a movie without falling asleep. I now judge whether a movie is good or not based on whether or not I stay awake the whole time.

And so it was that last night I made my way to American Sleep Medicine for a sleep study. They put me in a nice room with a double-size bed. The tech then came in to wire me up — two electrodes on each leg, 2 on the rib cage, 2 on the shoulders, a half-dozen all around my head, a strap around my gut and one around my chest, two diodes shoved up each nostril and a clip to put my index finger in.

How the —- am I supposed to sleep like this?

I decided I’d better use the restroom before lights out, so I carried my box of wires into the adjacent room and did my business, then settled in for a good night’s sleep. It’s not easy to rest when you can’t move your head because of wires all around it and there are wires up your nose and everywhere else…but eventually I did drift off.

The next morning the tech informed me that they had found no evidence of sleep apnea. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Yes. You showed no signs of snoring,” he said.

“Rodney? Rodney? Sorry to wake you but you haven’t been breathing, so we’re going to try the CPAP on you.”

14d09682add8ae93b1757689296fe9fe(Honest to God, I was sleeping and dreaming that I had passed the sleep test when the guy comes in and wakes me up to tell me I’ve failed the sleep test)

The first thing he does is tries this thing that he shoved up my nose that pushes air in. It’s the least invasive format but you have to be a good nose-breather to use it. My body was having nothing of that.So we put on the mask, which is uncomfortable and weird but at least I can breathe fairly normally.

Still, how the —- am I supposed to sleep like this?

I decided I’d better take another restroom break since I’m awake anyway. Lying there with the mask on was pretty darn freaky but eventually I did drift off. Some time later I found myself in a daze trying to take the mask off. The tech comes in.

“Rodney, are you OK? What are you doing?

“I dunno. Am I awake? What’s going on?”

e9203702acfb83a6cf00bfd43c1d429dThe tech politely tells me we’ve still got some more time and puts the mask back on and I go back to sleep. The next thing I know the tech is waking me up and telling me we’re done for the day but I would probably need to come back for a second study so they can get the air flow adjusted just right. He gets me a cup of coffee and sends me away.

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I have this new sensation — like I’m awake. Like I’m not tired. I don’t know what to make of it. I go next door to Dierberg’s and buy donut holes for my son, then stop at McDonald’s for a couple of sausage burritos. Come home to find my lazy, deadbeat family are all asleep.

 

Go downstairs and eat breakfast while watching last night’s “Late Show.” Put in a load of laundry. Get caught up on all the boring crap my friends have posted on Facebook overnight. Write a blog post. It’s just now 9 a.m.

What the hell has happened to me?

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The End Of The World As I Know It

The first comic book shop I ever set foot in was probably the one in downtown Springfield, Missouri. It wasn’t really a comic book shop, it was an old, used bookstore, but in the window it had a sign: ‘Marvel Comics On Sale Here.’

I don’t remember how I got there — downtown was not a spot we ever visited in Springfield — but get there I did. It was old and musty with books stacked unevenly and all over. Classic old, used bookstore. But in one area were a couple of shelves with all new comics. Not the spinner-racks I was used to at Wood’s supermarket. Next to the shelves were stacks of old comics.

A store that specialized in selling comic books. What a wonderful idea. I wonder if it will catch on.

imagesSurprisingly, It did. The first comic book shop I was  frequent customer of was Rock Bottom Books and Comics in Columbia, Missouri. It was within walking distance of the dorm so I would trek there often to peruse the new comics. I still had a subscription to ‘Avengers’ and ‘X-Men’ back home so I didn’t need to actually buy any comics, but that didn’t stop me from walking up the long stairway to Rock Bottom and while away the hours looking through the spinner racks. I was young back then and didn’t see any problem with going into a store and reading their books and not buying anything. Eventually my subscriptions ran out and I did turn my business over to Rock Bottom.

There have been many other shops over the years, and even more locations (comic book shops tend to move around a lot). While living in Springfield I sometimes visited Duckburg Comics. Years later it would turn out the owners of that shop would be our frequent companions at LawyerCon.

When The Wife had a job interview in St. Charles I went along for the ride. While she was interviewing I went for a walk on Main Street and discovered the St. Charles Journal, where I would soon go to work, and FBN: The Fantasy Shop, a comic book shop just down the street. (FBN, I eventually learned, stood for “Fly By Night,” the Rush song) The Fantasy Shop went on to become the McDonald’s of comic book shops in St. Louis, with locations all over. They dropped the FBN moniker.

There are a surprising number of comic book shops in St. Louis. I admit I haven’t even been to all of them. For the most part I split my money between The Fantasy Shop, now in its third location since I moved here, and Comic Book Relief, which is next door to Beer, Bait & Bullets.

If you watch “The Big Bang Theory” you know that new comics arrive at the shop once a week. The day has changed over the years but for some time now New Comic Book Day is Wednesday. It makes for a nice break in the work week. Every Wednesday I pick up my son after work and we drive to FS or CBR, I rifle through the new books, check out any new merchandise, pick up a book or two along with the Comic Shop News (it’s free, as it should be because it’s not really worth paying for), pay the man at the cash register (it’s usually a  man) and be on my way.

It’s been part of my routine for almost 40 years.

The Internet, as we all know, has ruined everything. A few years back publishers started making comic books available in a digital format. Rather than buying a physical, paper comic book as God intended, you could download one off a website and read it on your computer.

What a stupid idea. Who wants to read a comic book on a computer? How inconvenient is that? Then tablets came along and suddenly it was maybe more convenient but still, why would you give up your comic book for a digital file on a computer?

marvel-digital-code-350x217Once digital comics took off, Marvel started offering free codes in its comics. Type the 10-digit code into your computer and you’d get a free digital copy of that comic. I still wasn’t sold. I continued buying my comics and ignoring the codes. Then one day Marvel had a special deal where you could download like 300 comics for free. Suddenly, digital comics didn’t seem so stupid.

I went through the various hoops and downloaded several books. I then proceeded to read them on my son’s Ipad. HOLY CRAP. This is awesome! The art is crisper. The colors are more vibrant. And best of all, you can zoom in on individual panels and blow up images as large as you like — making it significantly easier for old, cataracted, eyes to read the captions.

Digital comics, where have you been all my life?

I quickly began downloading every code in every comic I had that had not already expired. I now had a new weekly routine. Go to the comic book shop, buy a comic, bring it home and read it, download the digital copy, put the comic on the shelf, and hereafter re-read it in digital. It was the best of both worlds. So naturally it couldn’t last.

Last month Marvel announced that it would no longer include a free digital copy of the comic you just bought. I feared this day would come. Nothing good lasts forever.

Here now my dilemma: Do I continue as before, going to the comic shop every week and picking up a book or two and taking them home and reading them and eventually sticking them on a shelf or in a box…or do I come home, fire up the computer, go to Marvel.com and purchase a digital copy? I’m not going to do both.

000_0368Think about this people. This is no minor thing. Since childhood I have collected comics.I never stopped. Some sissies quit around high school and go back around college. Not me. I have them (not bagged and boarded, what a stupid thing) in two tall bookshelves, two short bookshelves, eight boxes in the unfinished part of the basement, two boxes in the bedroom closet, two dresser drawers in the bedroom, several stacked on my nightstand near the bed, and a few stacked on the living room end table. That’s not counting my graphic novels. I have comics from England and Ireland and Scotland and probably half the states in the union.

If I go digital, that all stops. No more “Where’s my comic book?” and “Why did you draw on my comic book?” and “Who tore the cover off my comic book?” The poor soul who inherits my comic book collection will find unexpected stops in the current runs of “Black Widow,” “Occupy Avengers” and “All New X-Men.” My wife will be the happiest person alive.

But it’s not just the loss of the physical item. What about my routine? Going to the comic book shop wasn’t just going shopping. It was like going to church, but without the preaching and that horrible contemporary Christian music that has ruined church. It was a hump-day break from the unending depression of work. And the social aspect — “How’z it goin’?” says the man behind the counter. “OK,” says I. “That’ll be $4.23.” “Hold on, I think I have some change.” “Thanks for coming in!”

No, I don’t know the names of any of the clerks or shop owners that I have dealt with weekly for the past 25 years. I’m not my wife. And no, I don’t talk to the fellow customers. Have you been in a comic book shop? Nerds. All nerds.

But they’re my nerds. And while I won’t miss them, I will miss the experience. I mean, I’m not a college freshman anymore, I can’t just show up every week, rifle through the new books, and walk out.

And so I must face the future. The advantages of digital are too great to ignore. I can store hundreds of comics in the space that one would take up today. They’re easier to read and so much nicer to look at. I can read digital comics on my phone, which means I can read them anywhere — sitting in a waiting room, waiting for the movie to start, in the bathroom at work — the possibilities are endless. My only fear now is a power outage. Or the Internet explodes.

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(I told you you wouldn’t care about it, assuming you made it this far)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s The MOD, MOD, MOD, MOD’S World

Several years ago, in the early days of The Executive Committee, one of my underlings (I think it was Trent) referred to me as — and I quote — a “Mean Old Dictator.”

Now a lesser man would’ve had his feelings hurt. A lesser man would’ve responded with a series of blistering tweets — had twitter existed back then. A lesser man would’ve pouted. A lesser man would’ve struck out a horrible vengeance on the person who wronged him so.

But I am not that man. Instead I chose to own the title. Maybe even revel in it. And so I became the Mean Ol’ Dictator — or MOD — of The Executive Committee.

Now if you’ve been following this blog for a while you know that one of my favorite Christmas traditions is the Executive Committee Holiday Dinner. And if you’ve been around for a while you also know that one of the greatest challenges of setting up the ECHD is figuring out where we’re going to eat.

Well a few months back I’m driving through town and I notice a new restaurant is opening: MOD Pizza. I immediately went home and called an emergency meeting.

“Which one of you sold my naming rights to a pizza chain?”

Silence.

Now a lesser man would’ve been upset by this blatant act of identity theft. A lesser man would’ve brought in the lawyers and sued for copyright infringement or trademark violations.

But I am not that man. Instead, I said, “let’s have this year’s holiday dinner at MOD Pizza!” Everyone agreed. Maybe I’ll get a free pizza out of the deal once the owners find out who I am.

And so it was that Wednesday night shortly before 7 p.m. I arrived at MOD Pizza. I decided to get there first (I knew being a few minutes early would ensure that I would be first) to scope out the place as I’d never been there before and try to figure out seating arrangements. If you’ve been around a while you know that the second greatest challenge of setting up the ECHD is attendance. There are currently 12 members of the EC. Try getting 12 people to show up at the same place at the same time — especially over the holidays. Some years we do pretty good. One year it was me, Trent and Fagan.

First to arrive was our newest member, Cindy B. I don’t know why we waited so long to put Cindy in the group — nobody, and I mean nobody, loves this crazy band of Former Journal Employees like Cindy. Everyone else showed up in fairly decent time. And I do mean everyone. Well, almost everyone. Spaulding (Motto: If I want to spend time with you, I’ll make time) was as usual a no-show, and once again Pokin didn’t make it in from Springfield. To be fair, Springfield is a 4-hour drive, but then Fagan lives in North Carolina and he’s never missed.

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There was one, and only one, long table in the room. There were 3 people sitting in it when I showed up. I started to hover and they left just as my crew started arriving in full. I guess it’s a good thing they’re always late. With spouses and children in tow we had no trouble filling the table.

MOD Pizza has a rather interesting thing going. It’s like a Subway, but for pizza. They specialize in small, personal pizzas so you don’t have to deal with the hassles of sharing. They throw all the ingredients on the shell as you call them out, then you pay and wait for your pie to come out of the oven. Pretty efficient operation.They play music from the MOD era (See: The Who: Quadrophenia) which I greatly enjoyed.

The rest of the evening went like pretty much every ECHD since the dawn of time. There was much talking and laughing and eating and drinking. I received a lovely set of  tin letters that spelled out my name featuring different Marvel and DC superheroes from Melfy and a “Grow Your Own Dinosaur” kit from Erica. I can’t wait to grow my own dinosaur but I figure I’d better put it off until at least Spring. Not enough room in the house to keep him.

MOD Pizza closes promptly at 9 p.m. We left around 9:30. They were very gracious about it. To our faces, anyway.

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The Gift Of Gifting

There’s so much to love about Christmas: The movies (well, a few of them), the music (well, some of it), the TV specials (well, “The Grinch” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”), the lights, the decorations, the cards, the food, the day off from work, nun bowling, the ECHD and all that business with the Baby Jesus.

But best of all, of course, is the presents. Presents, presents, presents. Who doesn’t love a good present? Even a lousy present is better than nothing. Sure, I’m old enough and have my own money — I can buy my own stuff. I usually do. But getting stuff, and saving money in the process, is hard to beat.

Giving gifts is also pretty awesome. It feels good to give something to someone and see that look of genuine joy when they open it. Good gift giving, like everything else in this world, is a talent. Giving the perfect gift means knowing the recipient and studying them and listening and paying attention when they don’t think you’re paying attention. It’s hard work.

For example, this year I came home one afternoon and there was a large package on the front porch from JC Penney.

“Did you order anything from JC Penney?” I asked The Wife.

“No. Did you?”

“Do I look like someone who shops at JC Penney?”

“No, I don’t believe they sell comic books.”

I bring the package inside and notice it’s squishy. Why would someone send me something squishy? There was nothing squishy in the RROY REPORT Holiday Gift Guide. I squish it some more. It feels like a pillow.

I rip open the package and sure enough, it was a pillow. Why would someone send me a pillow? I have a pillow. In fact, there are about 2 dozen pillows on my bed. Most of them get thrown on the floor every night because no one sleeps with 2 dozen pillows. Why do women feel the need to decorate beds with lots of pillows? They just take up space and while I get that they’re supposed to be decorative, no one’s going to see them. You generally don’t invite guests into the bedroom. It’s just an odd daily ritual — toss the pillows on the floor at night, put them back on the bed in the morning. I don’t understand.

I check out the packaging on the pillow: Royal Velvet Essential Down Pillow. Fill: White Duck Down.

Someone bought me a feather pillow? And then it all falls into place.

Back in June my beloved feather pillow got a tear in it and I had to throw it away. As is always the case when I lose a beloved inanimate object, I wrote a poem in its honor. I published that poem on June 12 here at the Report (you can look it up in the archives). Someone (obviously Jan) read that poem six months ago and remembered it and sent me a feather pillow to make up for my lost love.

And that, Virginia, is the true meaning of Christmas. Have a merry one.

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