Sunday, January 6, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Life Lessons from Jane Eyre

Okay, so the Resident Brit was watching Jane Eyre on television last night. I'm not a huge fan of this type of cinema, as the characters tend to wail and moan about every little thing, but I stopped for a moment when a guy cruised up to Jane Eyre. He's wearing an awful hat that looks like a giant black burrito shell curled up at the edges. Just seriously bad headgear, if you ask me. I mean, imagine if Zorro fell off an 80-story building and landed on his head. That's what that guy's hat looked like. (By the way, I'm pretty sure the hat guy is the one with the crazy wife locked up in the attic, unless that's another book.) In less time than it takes to tell, I took one look at that hat and covered up Jane Eyre's angst-filled dialogue with my own: "Hey Chester, what's the deal with your hat? Somebody sit on it or something?"

The Brit gave me the skunk eye for talking over the movie, but I think the dialogue would have been much richer if Jane Eyre had actually said that. Try it for yourself. Say it out loud: Hey Chester, what's the deal with your hat? Somebody sit on it or something?

Sounds good, eh? Now you are ready to use this phrase in everyday conversation. Let's say you've been pulled over by the state police. You roll down your window and wait calmly in your automobile, hands on the wheel so the officer can see that you aren't going for a gun. When the officer pokes his head in the window, now comes your chance. You smile and say: "Hey Chester, what's the deal with your hat? Somebody sit on it or something?"

What fun you and the officer will have as you share a hearty laugh! I'll bet you won't even get a ticket.

Don't think for a moment that this phrase only works with law enforcement representatives. Let's say that for some odd reason you've invited the Bishop of San Diego over for tea and for some even odder reason he shows up, and he's wearing the official bishop outfit, including that huge headpiece thingie. When the bishop walks in, what do you say? That's right. Say it loud and say it proud!

If people said more stuff like this, the world would be a much more peaceful place and fewer people would end up like Jane Eyre and hook up with weirdos who keep their crazy wives locked in the attic. If you ask me, that guy should have been the one locked up in the attic for wearing that stupid hat. What was he thinking when he saw himself in the mirror? "Lookin' good, Chester. You da man. Guess I'll go over and hit on that Jane Eyre chick next door."

Yeah, right.

The creamed corn that ruined Angela's Christmas

Hey, it's time for my annual Christmas story! I know, Christmas was a couple of weeks ago but I've been really busy, okay? Here it is:

Christmas was bearing down and I still had gifts to find. It was easy to find something for my niece Angela, as she devours books. Not literally, of course, but you know what I mean. I decided to order a book by an author I know, thinking I could get the book personally signed by said author. Angela would love it! (I won't name the author but her initials are RB.)

A few days later, the book arrived from Amazon. I stuffed it in a padded envelope, along with letter to the author asking for a personal inscription. Unfortunately, Christmas came and went and I never heard back from RB. I had to rush out and get Angela another present, one of those Fortune Teller books where ghosts and demons shoot out of the toilet or take over one of those awful Bratz dolls and make it say horrible things.

Three days after Christmas, Angela's book showed up, but the envelope was covered with odd stains. When I pulled the book out of the envelope, I found out why. It was covered with a substance that looked a lot like creamed corn. In fact, it was creamed corn. What a mess! The cover was mottled, the pages were mostly stuck together, and it smelled a little rank. When I looked at the title page, the author's incription was blurry. I'm not sure, but RB seems to have written "Rut in hall, you mothfarmer!" It's hard to tell.

Why would RB fill an envelope with creamed corn? I couldn't figure it out. Was it a message of some kind? Did it have something to do with the plot of her book? Perhaps she is the forgetful type and dumped the corn in while cooking dinner. My brain seethed with ideas but the creamed corn remained a mystery.

Later that day I received a visit from a couple of the guys at the local FBI office. It seemed that someone at the post office became concerned about the gooey envelope and sent out an alarm. As my readers well know, visits from federal authorities are nothing new, and I recognized the agents who turned up at my front door.

The bigger and more senior agent was James, but he likes me to call him Jimbo. James (Jimbo) has taken a liking to me, and he sends me a Christmas card every year. This time it was a picture card, with Jimbo, Mrs. Jimbo, and their three young children standing in front of their Christmas tree, pointing what appear to be Beretta Model 92B semi-automatic pistols at the camera. The picture was a little blurry, but if I was taking a picture with five Berettas aimed at me, I'd be in a hurry to get it done, blurry or not.

I showed Jimbo the envelope full of creamed corn and he took away a sample to test at the lab to see if it was anything heinous. I know creamed corn when I see it, so it seemed like a waste of time to me, but that's the government for you.

After Jimbo left, I started to throw away the envelope but then I spotted Mr. Bushida's cat in our back yard. Waste not, want not, I said, and took the envelope out back. The cat was playing with a squirrel's head, batting it back and forth, but stopped to look at me with its big blue eyes. I couldn't help but think that Mr. Bushida's cat, one of those big white fluffy specimens, looked a lot like the cat that Ernst Stavros Blofinger guy was always stroking in the James Bond movies. Blofinger would get Bond strapped down to a steel table and aim a laser beam at Bond's crotch, and then he'd say, "I don't expect you to talk, Mr. Bond. I expect you to be cut in half by my crotch laser." Then he'd turn the laser on and go back to his office to stroke the cat some more.

Mr. Bushida's cat went nuts when I dumped the corn on the grass. I guess he really liked creamed corn because it was gone in three bites. On the other hand, when you've been nibbling at a squirrel's head, I guess anything would taste good in comparison.

An hour later, I got a call from Mr. Bushida. He started yelling about the cat throwing up on their new white leather sofa, and in the background I heard Mrs. Bushida yelling in a foreign language, none of which I understood. Then there was a crash and Mr. Bushida started yelling in the same foreign language. I listened for a while, but aside from a few American words like "satan" and "horrible she-demon," I had no idea what he was babbling about, so I hung up the phone. I hate to be rude like that, but he was yelling at me, and I can't help it if his cat decided to yack on the furniture.

In the end, I decided not to give RB's book to Angela. I tried to get the creamed corn out but nothing worked, plus some of the pages fell out. Also, it started to stink even worse. I have to admit, I'm disappointed that RB decided to pour creamed corn all over Angela's book. I got to thinking about it, and I wondered if RB always pours food on books sent by fans. Then I wondered, does she always use creamed corn or does she switch off and use cream of asparagus soup or a can of navy beans? It's hard to tell with children's authors. They tend to be a little different, if you know what I mean. Most of them go around obsessing about dead mothers and hideous diseases all day, and that really messes up your head.

Hmmm. It looks like this story was a lot more about creamed corn and not so much about Christmas. Sorry about that. Next year, if I decide to get a book autographed for Angela, I'll send it to an author who just signs their name and leaves it at that. Angela will be happier, Mr. Bushida will be happier, and I won't have federal agents on my doorstep. At least not because of soiled envelopes.

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