Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas shopping is not man's work

Because I have always found that, contrary to sterotype, Herself actively loathes shopping, while I don't really mind it, I was surprised today to find myself wishing I was anywhere other than in the shops I was visiting in search of Christmas 2006 presents.

At one point I was in Dunnes Stores, which, it has to be said, has really stretched itself in recent years in the matter of variety of gifts. But feckin' hell! The things that were on sale in the Home Wares department! Either young and trendy mortgage payers are incredibly thick, or someone has found a way to sell wisps of nothing while keeping a straight face.

Those smelly candle things.... They had some tiny lumps of wax that required at least standard eye protectors -- probably the full breathing apparatus rig -- just to walk within three feet of the display. Another of the wonders was a yoke about the size of a whiskey glass, filled with little wooden balls and containing a worryingly small bottle of concentrated scent. Apparently one gripped the little brown bottle with the longest fire tongs one could find and dripped one drop of this on top of the balls, then sat eye-streamingly trendy in front of the television for the rest of the evening. The item was complete with small, wooden manhole-cover lid with a kind of string of ribbon passed through it. I mean, Jaysus! I could whip up a dozen of those yokes from random ingredients in the kitchen in about five minutes.

In HMV the staff are faced with the demoralising task of trying to wring an extra fiver out of the already impatient customers by telling them about a special offer. I passed several long-suffering Mammies, staring in bewilderment at racks of CDs and DVDs, while trying to remain calm on the mobile:

"Right! I can see the row you're talking about! But it isn't there. Do you think you can get your arse out of bed long enough to tell your mother who bore you for nine months (the last two in a fucking heatwave!) what other piece of crap musical selection you want?"

At the counter, a mental battle royale is going on between the slim, premenstrual twenty-something with the stud in her nostril assistant who has not yet had her latte and the going to fat and possibly unshaven twenty-something going on fifteen who is avoiding making eye contact with the queuing public. She says, in pure, purring, over-his head sarcastic Female:

"Is your cash register off at the moment?"

He completes the counting of his crayons and replies without the least inkling that she is any moment going to stab him in the eyeball with the pin of her name tag:

"Oh, no. I was just doing something else..."

Men! Wha'?

He looks up and takes payment for the goods I hand him. In the background, I hear the shop girl saying to a hassled Mobile-phone Mammy:

"Did you know, Madam that once you spend €30 you can choose one of these selections for only half price?"

Slow Poke takes my money and tries his best with the speil on me:

"You can have one of these...." (He realises there is a premium DVD in the stack of cheapos, and starts to shuffle them, all in a fluster, like playing cards) "Well... not including that one, obviously..." (He rallies) "...for only half price!"

"You're alright," I say.

The look on his face says that it is very early in his day and he does not expect to shift many of the half-price offers before quitting time.

There are camping stoves and oil lamps in the camping shop window. The staff are trying valiantly to think up camping gear that might double as Christmas gifts. So am I.

In Easons, I walk around most of the store with a tin box of dominos in my hand before finally putting it back. Someone this year will get a 2007 calendar on the subject of Ferrets, but it won't be anyone I know. I put back a keyring with the picture of a black cat on it just like ours. I can take a picture of our black cat any day. No, I don't want a box of oil paints. Nor videos of great sporting moments.

Then I see a CD entitled "Favourite Childhood memories", hidden in the back of the budget CDs. It's tracks listing is:

Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf / Henry Hall
The Ugly Duckling / Danny Kaye
On The Good Ship Lollipop / Shirley Temple
I Know An Old Lady / Burl Ives
William Tell Overture / Spike Jones And His City Slickers
The Woody Woodpecker Song / Mel Blanc
Me And My Teddy Bear / Rosemary Clooney
Thumbelina / Danny Kaye
I Tawt I Taw A Puddy-Tat / Mel Blanc
Christopher Robin At Buckingham Palace / Anne Stephens
Blue Tail Fly / Burl Ives
The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine / Laurel And Hardy
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo / Dinah Shore
The Big Rock Candy Mountain / Burl Ives
Wonderful Copenhagen / Danny Kaye
The Laughing Policeman / Charles Penrose
A Four Legged-Friend / Roy Rogers
The Runaway Train / Vernon Dalhart
Little White Duck / Danny Kaye
Polly Wolly Doodle / Shirley Temple
The King's New Clothes / Danny Kaye
I'm Popeye The Sailor Man / Billy Costello
The Teddy Bears' Picnic / Henry Hall

Like a fool I decide I'd be better off without it. I'd be better going home and drinking tea and eating something, wrapping what presents I have bought and coming back another day. So I do.

I'm going back tomorrow. I hope it's still there. Bugger this man-thinking business. It just isn't me.

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