Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Signs Of The Apocalypse #2

I don’t know what’s more amazing: that it took me so long to find Sign #2, or the fact I actually remembered I’d started this series. For those of you who’ve failed to keep your Signs of the Apocalypse Tracking Chart up-to-date, Sign #1, brought to your attention way back in June, was Pringles In A Bag. Today’s sign, I’m afraid, is much more ominous.

Last evening the plan was simple. After work I was to meet my wife and kids at the m— the m—m—m… the m—m—mahh… mmmaaahhhh… the mall [shudder] so the kids could talk to a stranger who was pretending to be the real live version of a myth, aka Santa. I had to work a little late, but that was no problem says my wife on the phone because the sign said Santa was “feeding his reindeer” until six o’clock. Probably more like “spanking his bald-headed little helper” or “snorting his speedball” I say, but this is exactly the kind of thing she doesn’t want to hear so I apologize by letting her hang up on me.

Anyway, I battle the traffic and the parking lot and I’m finally walking through Macy’s or Penny’s or whatever the fuck place hasn’t gone out of business yet when what to my wondering eyes should appear? A goddamn dog. Yes, a dog. In the middle of the store. It was attached to a leash, which was in turn attached to some dude who was neither a cop nor a blind guy. The two of them were being led through the perfume department by a twenty-something woman who was clearly in charge. Less than five minutes had passed since I parked the truck and already I’m irritated because 1) I’m in the friggin mall and 2) there’s a schmuck walking his retriever through it. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for people pushing the boundaries of accepted social norms, but I draw the line when pushing the boundaries increases my chances of stepping in poo.

So I decide to follow the schmuck and his dog and their high-heeled leader to see what they’re up to, because I feel it’s my responsibility to keep tabs on the clinically stupid who bring unmuzzled animals into commercial retail space. But I didn’t get very far because as soon as I walked out of Macy’s and into the mall I was distracted by a small yappy dog barking in front of the Hello Kitty Store. At this point I stopped short, and had this been a scene in a movie, the camera would’ve panned around me 360, two or three times, background a blur, as I slowly realized the whole fucking place was filled with dogs!

I glance down at my hands to make sure they’re still hands and not paws, just in case I’ve slipped through some weird dog dimension portal and turned into a dog too, or maybe I’ve crashed on the interstate and this is really all a dream I’m having while my comatose body is laid up in ICU. But it’s cool. I’ve still got hands. So I use them to do the only thing left to do. I call my wife.

“Honey, there’s a bunch of fucking dogs waiting in line to see Santa.”

“Yes, I know.”

“No, no. I said dogs. Big ears and paws and shit.”

“Yeah, we’re in line too.”

“What?!”

“To your left.”

I turn and there is my wife and our three children patiently waiting in line for Santa. Behind a poodle.

I hate waiting in annoying lines. Traffic, theme parks, checking out at Wal-Mart because they won’t open a third register. I won’t do it. Santa I will wait in line for. BUT I also have strict criteria regarding who I will wait in line with. It’s a simple test: In the event of a catastrophic collapse of civilization, would I willingly kill anything in this line and eat it for sustenance? If the answer is yes, I don’t wait in line with it. Obviously dogs fall into this category, as do obnoxious tourists from Scarsdale, but that’s another subject entirely.

“The hell’s going on?” I say.

“It’s pet night,” says my wife.

“Pet? Night?! You gotta be shitting me. The end is nigh.”

I look at the kids. Our nine year-old son—who I know has figured the whole Santa thing out but refuses to tell us, and my wife refuses to let me question him on the subject—is laughing at the dogs smelling each other’s butts. Our two year-old daughter is sitting quietly in the stroller. But our seven year-old daughter, who is the middle child and therefore has the shortest fuse of the bunch, has her arms spread wide and her face contorted in Exaggerated Disbelief.

What are they thinking?!” she says. “Do they think dogs can tell Santa what they want for Christmas?!”

“They probably do, sweetie.”

Why?!

And here I had a moment of clarity: It’s one thing to lie to your kids about a jolly fat man because of tradition and magical childhood memories and whatnot, but it’s never acceptable to lie to them in order to politely excuse the behavior of idiots. “Some people are idiots,” I say. “They’re easily swayed by peer pressure and mass market media and have convinced themselves they need a twenty dollar picture of their pet defecating on Santa."

My wife gives me one of her Looks Of Death, because I’m using my Unnecessarily Loud Voice. My daughter, who wasn’t even listening to me, points to the poodle in front of us and says, “What in the world does that dog want for Christmas?!”

Now we’re feeding off each other, my daughter and I, so I say, “From the looks of it, a parvo vaccina—.”

My wife elbows me in the ribs because she thinks that’s where the switch is.

“This is an hour line at least,” I say. “With dogs. Santa isn’t even back yet. He’s still waxing his—” Elbow to the stomach.

A quick survey says the two oldest are cool with coming back another time. “You tell her,” says my wife nodding toward our two year-old. “She’s been so excited all day. She’s done nothing but talk about Santa.”

No problem. Little one is scared to death of big noisy dogs. I lean down to begin my appeal and I see the reason she’s been so quiet. Her hands are clenched into fists, her eyes wide and fixed on the golden retriever behind us. As if on cue it lunges at the poodle in front of us and the barking begins. Two year-old grabs onto me and I lift her out of the stroller. "We're outta here," I say. "You fucking people are insane."

My wife doesn't elbow me. Instead she rams the stroller into dog owner ankles and offers sarcastic apologies to them as they scramble to control their pets.

This ridiculousness will end tragically one day when a kid gets his or her ear bitten off. It won't be my kid though.

13 comments:

Chris Eldin said...

ROTFLMAO!
That's pretty funny! We don't do Santa photos anymore. "They're for babies."
I've never, ever seen a Santa line with pets queuing up. Oh, that's soooo funny!!

JaneyV said...

I am so totally a lover of dogs. My Pooch is like my 4th child. Seriously - I really love that dog.

That's why I would never in a million years take her to a mall (even if they lost their minds and said I could) - because it'd make her crazy. And as for queuing up with her for an hour to have her picture taken with some stranger and actually have to pay to have my dog thus tortured - you have got to be shitting me.

Them's just crazy people - oh yeah , and morons to boot. Well done you for taking your kids outta there even in the face of potential rib breaking.

pjd said...

The pet owners are... well, whatever. What strikes me is that (a) someone thought this was a good idea, and (b) someone else agreed to be Santa. Or maybe Santa arrived, took one look at the line, and said "you gotta be shitting me" and quit.

Classic writeup, BT. Now come clean: are you the guy who commented on another blog about writing a memoir that is like Jeff Foxworthy meets David Sedaris? Cuz you could totally pull that off.

blogless troll said...

No that wasn't me. What blog was it?

pjd said...

Wish I could remember. Some writerly blog that mentioned something about memoirs. If I come across it, I'll let you know.

The "foxworthy meets sedaris" idea stuck with me. A gay redneck coming-of-age memoir. I love the idea but my brain melts when I try to envision it.

Ello said...

Oh Lord! I have seen these type of pictures at pet lovers houses and I never know what to say, other than "WTF?" Seriously, what is wrong with these people? And um, I am a big dog lover, but I am a huge dog poop stepping into it hater. When I see people not scooping the poop, I have a terrible urge to fling poo at them.

I wish I was there on line with you dude, you and me would have started a riot! Ok maybe that wouldn't be a good thing...

Travis Erwin said...

They had pet night at our mall as well.

And I'll betcha there were plenty of yuletide logs laying around when all was said and done.

Whirlochre said...

I've grown used to malls housing the very worst manifestations of human nature, but this is absurd.

Those mutts should get their own Santa.

Robin S. said...

It’s a simple test: In the event of a catastrophic collapse of civilization, would you willingly kill anything in this line and eat it for sustenance? If the answer is yes, I don’t wait in line with it. Obviously dogs fall into this category, as do obnoxious tourists from Scarsdale, but that’s another subject entirely. This is fucking GREAT!

And...It’s one thing to lie to your kids about a jolly fat man because of tradition and magical childhood memories and whatnot, but it’s never acceptable to lie to them in order to politely excuse the behavior of idiots. “Some people are idiots,” I say. Holy crap! Ha!

I'm telling you, you NEED to write a column. No, WE NEED you to write a column, nationally syndicated.

writtenwyrdd said...

How could they even consider having dogs in line with children like that? I don't have a problem with dogs getting Santa pictures--when it's in a proper place like PetCo or something.

But not at a mall. Sheesh.

blogless troll said...

Yes, PetCo, Pet Smart--those would be good places for this. The mall isn't. I don't have a problem with people wanting a picture of their pet sitting on Santa's lap. Who cares? Good for them. But they're just making personal injury attorneys salivate with this crap.

I actually sent an email to the mall registering my complaint. No response yet.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Too, too funny. OMG. I would never take my dogs to the mall let alone line up for Santa pictures. They'd be traumatized. Well one would. The other would be snacking on some bigger dog's ear or something. I'm surprised it was only dogs. Where were the cats to complete the idiocy? And the requisite lizard or three?

blogless troll said...

You know, it said "bring your pet to see Santa" but all I saw was dogs. I'm sure you could put a cat or a lizard on a leash, but that would be weird. Maybe that's why they stayed away. I don't know.