Read an Excerpt
What I Really Want for Christmas
This year, I’ve finally come face-to-face with the truth: I’m getting crap for Christmas. I guess it really shouldn’t bother me, and should come as absolutely no surprise. I always get crap for Christmas. I, however, do not get as much crap as my friend Kate does when she goes home to Minnesota for the holidays, and then she has to haul all of the crap halfway across the continental United States.
This year, to avoid the disappointment of asking for a leather jacket and getting a windbreaker with a reindeer on it instead (last year’s tragedy), Kate has determined that she will beat her family at their own game. She is a genius.
We were out to dinner when she unfolded her ultimate plan of brilliancy. “Last night, my mom called and asked what I wanted for Christmas,” Kate said. “And I thought for a minute, and I really wanted to say, ‘It doesn’t matter, because you’ll just get me the first thing you see with a sale sticker on it at Wal-Mart.’ And then I decided, why be disappointed? I’m never going to get what I ask for, so I told my mom, ‘What I really want is some dish towels with puffy decals on them, preferably of a Christmas character, the cheapest washcloths ever made, and the biggest, whitest pairs of underwear you can find at Sears. That’s what I want.’ ”
According to Kate, her mother giggled with delight. “Ooooh,” she cooed, “that will be easy!”
So I’m taking the same route. This year, I’ve made my list and I’ve checked it twice, so this one’s for you, Mom, who never fails to get me enough white cotton briefs to outfit a convent for a whole year, and other people who see fit to unload the Crap Wagon on me on what is SUPPOSED to be the Happiest Day of the Year. It is the DISNEYLAND OF DAYS, but I always end up hauling shit home that belongs only on a shelf at Goodwill. And no, it is not the thought that counts when the thought is “Only a little is missing. She’ll never know I used this.”
What I Really Want For Christmas
by Laurie Notaro
What I really want for Christmas is a Big Mouth Billy Bass or a Travis the Singing Trout. The more the better, especially now that they’re available in outlet stores for ninety-nine cents, being that their novelty has worn a rut into the ground deeper than the Oregon Trail. I could hang them on my wall all together, like they would be in real life in a lake. They are the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and I never get tired of hearing them sing.
Pick out a whimsical hat for me, something you’ve never seen another person wear that just beckons to you from the hat stand as you point to it and exclaim in uncontained excitement, “THAT is Laurie!” If it resembles something a character from the classic ensemble Fat Albert or Captain Stubing of The Love Boat would wear or something you’ve seen on a pimp, it probably belongs on my head. If it has feathers on it, all the better—after all, who knows my style better than people who don’t even know that acrylic gives me hives, and will be expecting me to wear it when they come to visit.
Always on my list is a scrumptious delicacy from my mother’s favorite Wax Candle Baked Goods store. I don’t know where my mother found a wax store that specializes in baked-goods and pastry candles, but she did. Good work, Mom! Mmmm, mmmmm, just imagine a whole box of cupcakes—moist, rich chocolate cake underneath a virtual mushroom cloud of marvelous buttercream frosting, bursting with a delicious, irresistible cupcake smell. And I mean bursting, filling up rooms of the house like you’ve just baked them. It’s the perfect diet food, because biting into one is like biting into Jennifer Lopez’s double-decker ass at Madame Tussaud’s, kinda like sinking your choppers into a thick, dense bar of Irish Spring—without the flavor. Yummy yummy. Because having fake cupcakes that smell like real cupcakes around your house all day long every day is just what a fat girl needs to make her carrot-stick-and-cottage-cheese lunch last and last and last until it’s time to peel back the film on her steaming, overcooked-to-the-point-of-dehydration Lean Cuisine dinner. Yummy. I can’t say it enough. YUMMY.
Another thing I really want is chunks of hair from the hair carts at the mall. I want extensions, braids, and a big fake bun. How intriguing would I be, showing up every day with a new hairstyle? One day short, one day long, one day curly, and one day with cornrows? Please, make me beautiful (and mys- terious!) (and blond!) (and redheaded!) (and raven-haired!)! Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair! Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, but most importantly, hair I never have to wash.
This next request may seem impossible, but I know it’s not! I would love every article of clothing you can think of with Tweety Bird on it that you haven’t already given me. Yes, everything! Go to that Warner Bros. clearance rack and just plunder! T-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, a coat, a hat, a windbreaker, sweatpants, tote bag, coasters—anything with Tweety Bird on it would be just incredible, even though I’m not the one who was so fascinated with Tweety Bird that I had him tattooed on my shoulder, it’s my husband’s ex-girlfriend.
Of course, I would enjoy nothing more than getting some really cheap bath crystals, so I could use them when I take a shower because I don’t have a bathtub. If you could get some that smell like Pine-Sol or an old lady’s teeth, I would squeal with glee! Happy piglet would I be. What else would be more relaxing than tossing up a handful of crystals and running around my shower stall so they hit me and stick to me like kitty litter?
Oh, and yes, you guessed it, Christmas socks! If there’s anything that says, “Let’s celebrate the birthday of your Christian Lord,” it’s an acrylic knit with metallic thread and a reinforced toe. I love Christmas socks! I love all kinds of Christmas socks—socks with snowmen, snowflakes, Santa, trees—and if I’ve been really good this year, get me ones with the word “Believe!” stitched right up the side. I BELIEVE in Christmas socks! Christmas socks with bells? Jingly, jolly, and rockin’ with holly! If you could score Baby Jesus socks, my God. Literally! Could I ever come down off that cloud? While you’re in the foot aisle at Safeway buying my Christmas present, take a step to the left and grab a can of Tough Actin’ Tinactin, too, because I’ll want to wear these socks so much you’ll have to kill me to get them off my feet, and eventually I’ll need something for the itch and decomposition of my toes.
Don’t forget a block of monogrammed Lucite, especially one with the meaning of my name documented on it to clear up the mystery and help ground my self-identity: “Laurie: Feminine form of the Late Latin name Laurus, which means ‘laurel,’ which was used to create victors’ garlands. Saint Laura was a ninth-century Spanish martyr, a nun who was thrown into a vat of molten lead by the Moors.” Ho ho ho! That’s right. Nothing says love, class, and Happy Holidays like a clear chunk of plastic teamed up with my name and the inspiring tale of a nun who was boiled to death like a lobster.
If all of the Lucite blocks are already sold out (you can’t take astonishing gifts for granted, you know), do me a favor; go the extra mile and bestow upon me a Rubik’s Cube with your photo on all sides! What’s better than one photo of you? Why, SIX of them! What fun it would be to writhe in the eternal task of spending my spare time putting six of your heads on six of the appropriate bodies! Grand fun, I tell you, grand. The only way I’d have more fun is if I was beating my arms against my body while cloaked in a killer bee colony intent on tickling me all the way into an anaphylactic coma!
If you’re in a jam and suddenly realize that my name has vanished from your shopping list and you never ordered that Six Sides of Me, Me, Me, Me, Me, and Then Me Rubik’s Cube, fear not, do not curse yourself; something from your house is fine, preferably if it’s used. Who wouldn’t mind a little pre-loved bath gel or lotion, or soap that you’ve found a little too fragrant for your tastes? In the immortal words of George W. Bush during the time of overwhelming insurgent attacks in a hostile country, BRING IT ON! Shampoo that’s not for you, pour some sugar on me! I understand that you’ve merely pretested it to make sure it lives up to the standards you set for giving gifts. I totally understand that. Kind of like when people would taste food for kings to make sure it’s not poisoned, except in this case, you spit a little back on the plate is all. That’s all. Just a little spit. What’s a little spit in a heartfelt Christmas gift? So little that you almost can’t tell it’s hardly there at all. Hardly. I would also love little sample soaps and tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner from hotels. Makes me feel like I’ve been on vacation without the expense or the hassle of enjoyment.
And lastly, FREE GIFTS that you’ve received for buying something you wanted are always welcome in my Christmas stocking! After all, if you’re getting a free gift with something you bought, why pay for mine? Why should you fork out moolah for my gift just because I forked out moolah for yours? The look on our faces is payment enough when we open the Choo-Choo Train wall clock that you got as a bonus when you bought the “Riding the Rails” Hobo Train Set you’ve just spent the last hour showing us in great detail despite the fact that we have already seen it multiple times on television since the commercial offering the free Choo-Choo clock with purchase is on what you could term “heavy rotation” during the holiday season. Choo choo! Choo Choo! Every quarter, half, and full hour on the hour, choo choo! Enough to make a peaceful man take up shootin’, or to understand why you’d pass on a perfectly good free gift like this. Free gifts are not always pleasant, let’s remember, like parking tickets and VD.
Well, I can’t wait for Christmas now, as I’m sure everything on my wish list will be bought, ordered, or scavenged from the musty, danky hall closet and all of my dreams will come true. Except for the one in which I’m in a business meeting eating a doughnut and when I look down to brush off the crumbs (oh, there are always crumbs) there’s just a sprinkling of coconut flakes over my big, bare, naked boobs, although I am wearing a watch and a Hope Eternal Diamonique pendant from QVC that my mom got me last year. I hope that dream better not come true. That pendant is so full of fake sparkle it could bring in planes.
P.S. Oh, I forgot one thing: I sure could use some more white cotton briefs, and the bigger the better! We used some of last year’s supply to cover bushes during the last freeze, and also as sheets for the guest bedroom. Toss in some nylon panties, too, because we’re thinking about taking up skydiving.
From the Hardcover edition.