This Christmas, shopping was easier than it has been for some time. In years past, my wife has been the one in charge of the Christmas shopping. Since she likes shopping and I could care less, I've always considered this a fair deal. But, unfortunately for me, this means hours of standing and feet shuffling in one department store after another.
“What do you think about this?” my wife asks.
“It looks fine.”
Back on the rack it goes.
“How about this one for your mother?” she asks again.
Back on the rack. On to the next store.
When we lived in Massachusetts, the pain of this ritual was made slightly more tolerable by the small bar inside the mall in Springfield. I would sit, drink, and grade final exams; my wife would return periodically for quick visits, a sip of beer, and to drop off bags. Maryland, it seems, has something against boozing it up in the mall.
This time, however, I was spared the whole tiresome ordeal. With my wife overseas visiting her parents, I did the Christmas shopping with stunning efficiency. Before leaving the house I hit amazon.com and had two presents in the mail before my feet hit the front steps. BING!! I drove to the local mall and grabbed a few more. BANG!! And I cruised on past the Barnes and Nobles for the last few. BOOM!!! Done! Home in time to watch LSU loose to Arkansas. Almost a perfect day!!
But as work picked up and my free time thinned out, those gifts sat around waiting to be mailed. Finally, just a few days before Christmas, I managed to walk them down to the post office. As I passed the first box over the counter, the woman glared at me and told me she couldn’t mail the box.
“What do you mean?” I queried.
“This box had alcohol in it once.” She retorted.
She wasn't wrong. The box was one of the many I collected from a local liquor store to use during our last move.
“OK?” was my confused response.
Once again, Madame Curie was correct. Alcohol is indeed flammable.
Normally, when confronted with problems like this, I sigh, narrow my eyes in the most condescending manner I can muster, and haughtily walk out. Why bang my head against a brick wall? The bricks never appreciate that kind of effort. But this time I felt I had the time and the energy to try reasoning with the wall.
“Right” I said. “But you can see that no wine was spilled on this box.”
“It doesn’t matter,” she shot back.
“Does it also not matter that the box itself is far, far, far more flammable than a bottle of wine?” I went on.
“No it doesn’t,” she exclaimed.
“In fact, were this box to contain the six bottles of wine it once held, it would be far less flammable because of it. Wine is over 85% water!”
“I cannot accept the box!”
Undeterred I went on. “And I guess it doesn’t matter that the gasoline in the truck that will carry the box away is far more flammable than a bottle of wine. . . . And I guess it also is no concern of yours that the fuel in the wings of the airplane that will carry the box to Louisiana is far more flammable than that. . . . My God! The oxygen we’re breathing right now is more flammable than a bottle of wine!!”
Maybe I had gone a little far with that last one. At least she thought so. Her only reply was to gesture menacingly toward the door.
I brought the box home, wrapped it in brown paper, walked it back to the post office, and handed it over to her silently.
Brick wall 1, Logan Row 0
Merry Christmas!! Happy New Year!!