The calm after Mrs. Curmudgeon’s Black Friday tactical retreat didn’t last. The next day one of Curmudgeon Compound’s smaller humanoid forms needed to go to town and BUY STUFF. This was apparently urgent. I hammed it up.
Kid: “I need to buy a THING OF GREAT IMPORTANCE. I must do it now.”
Me: “Hmm… I see your motivation. Shovel out the chicken coop and I’ll see what I can do.”
This went on for a while…
Kid: “Can we please go now? Please?”
Me: “The car is low on fuel. Siphon some gas out of the lawnmower and we’ll use that to get there.”
After a few hours I relented. I’d had several post-Thanksgiving sandwiches and was game for anything.
En route we passed the store where the Black Friday bug out had gone down. It looked sane. “Why don’t we go in there and see if the iSlab and XWii2600 you both wanted is truly sold out. If it’s there you can cancel the Amazon orders (I think) and geek out today.” Mrs. Curmudgeon was reluctant but the kid thought it a fine idea. In deference to Mrs. Curmudgeon’s PTSD the kids and I ventured forth and left her with the car. Her wait would be short. I can shop in ten minutes.
We immediately ascertained that the coveted XWii2600s were long gone. Amazon really was the only game in town. (All hail the internet.) I let the kid prowl the aisles a bit and then decided our ten minutes were up. Time to go.
I turned around and nearly bumped into Mrs. Curmudgeon. She was hovering around the iSlab display with a look of longing. So much for waiting at the car. The display had a scant few boxes in a largely empty cabinet. The packaging was identical and gleaming white and reeked of hipsterism. I peered in the case; trying to fathom the difference between a pristine white box that cost too much and a virtually identical pristine white box that cost three times more.
Another shopper asked me a question; “Is that the iSlab Model A or the iSlab model B?” How the hell would I know? I’m more likely to run Linux on a Raspberry Pi soldered into a go kart than drop a week’s pay on a digital Prius. On the other hand this was an opportunity to be a wiseass.
“The one on the left is the iSlab Mark V.” I said, confident that the fellow had no idea how Lincolns were marketed decades ago. I was right.
“So why does it cost so much more?” He was buying my crap.
“It has a Turbo Encabulator.” I smiled knowingly. “It’s a few hundred extra but you will appreciate it. A Turbo Encabulator really enhances your experience.” Who could say no to a Turbo Encabulator?
“Ignore him.” Mrs. Curmudgeon cut me off and saved the poor wretch before I could sell him blinker fluid and a reverse mortgage. A salesdrone appeared. I melted into the background and joined the kids in the Lego aisle. Legos rock!
Twenty minutes later Mrs. Curmudgeon showed up amid the Legos. She looked pale and spoke weakly. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
“OK fine let’s… hey is that a package in your hand?”
“Did you get the iSlab you wanted?”
“Yes. And I got the deal with the gift card. It was a good price.” She looked like she’d had a pint of blood extracted through her credit card.
I thought about making a joke involving Turbo Encabulators but decided I’d rather not get kicked in the balls. Mrs. Curmudgeon, like me, doesn’t like big purchases. They almost hurt. I groped for something non-committal to say.
“Right, well off to the parking lot eh?”
Ten minutes later we were in the car. She was still white as a sheet. Time to break the tension.
“Are you happy? It looks cool.”
“Yes, but I HATE spending that kind of money.”
“Honey, that’s the sexiest thing you’ve ever said. You are so hot right now.”
“Quit it, I’m freaking out.”
I knew exactly what was going on in her mind. We’re alike in that way. Many years ago I treated myself to a nice hunting rifle and scope. I practically stroked out at the cost. The rifle was worth it and the iSlab would be too. We’re just nervous about large numbers; in fact Mrs. Curmudgeon is more frugal than me. But an iSlab is not a Ferrari and only freaks like me type on an AlphaSmart and upload from a Raspberry Pi.
“You’ve wanted it forever. Enjoy it.” I really meant it.
“Bah, we can afford it. Enjoy your shiny toy. It’s not like we’re going to wind up living in a cardboard box.”
“Besides.” I continued, “that box is way too small to live in…”
You gotta’ pitch the one liner when the universe cues it up. Mrs. Curmudgeon laughed so I think it’s OK.
An hour later she was finally relaxing. “Well,” she sighed “at least I’ve got my Christmas present. Thanks.”
“This is exactly what I wanted.” She continued. “I don’t want anything more for Christmas.”
My spidey senses tingled. Was this a trap?
“You don’t want other stuff for Christmas?” Was I off the hook for Christmas shopping? Holy shit! This was awesome. Christmas shopping is hell, I occasionally screw up and get her a really retarded gift. I never know which gift will be my next epic faceplant. I DIDN’T HAVE TO LIFT A FINGER AND CHRISTMAS SHOPPING FOR MY WIFE WAS OVER!
“Want more stuff? After that extravagance? Hell no!” She meant it.
It had to be a trap. I’m not a subtle man so I asked. “Is this a trap?”
“Nope. Your Christmas shopping for me is done.” She smiled.
“Can I have that in writing?” I’ve been married a long time and haven’t yet figured out the rules. (And I never will.) Maybe I should get it notarized?
“You can relax. That thing cost a fortune. I am perfectly happy.”
“OK fine, but I’m putting this in my blog.”
So there you have it folks. If I wind up dead on December 26th, you know why.