It’s that time of year when family and shopaholic friends feel obliged to ask, “Before I get you another cartoon animal potholder, or bag of fruitcake flavored jelly-beans, what do you really want for the holidays?” Usually I say, “You don’t have to get me anything.” Of course this is fairly disingenuous, because they know I’m going to get them something, and if they don’t have a gift picked out for me they’ll feel cheap and sleazy.
Come to think of it, maybe that’s what I really want. When I ask for nothing, what I’m really saying is, “I want to feel as though the present I’m giving you is better than the one you gave me. That’s the only thing that will truly make me happy.” By this logic, if I really cared about my family and friends I would get them something even chintzier than I usually do, so that no matter what they got me, they would win the battle of the gift exchange. However, that opportunity will have to wait until next year, because I’ve already bulk purchased boxed sets of Holiday Head to Toe Care (including glitter styling gel, toilette water, and egg nog scented athletes’ foot powder).
The truth is, I do want something from my fellow gift-exchangers: I want them to love and appreciate me as much as I love and appreciate them. But after almost fifty years of accumulating, categorizing, and storing stuff in every spare closet, drawer and attic crawl space, I’d prefer that whatever they get me doesn’t require wrapping paper, styrofoam peanuts, polyethylene packaging, or detailed assembly instructions.
So, people, here’s what I really want: I want my kids to take out the garbage without being asked. I want the neighbor’s yapping dog to finally get his dinner and shut up for the night. I’m feeling lucky; I want to do a Google search and find what I’m looking for at the top of the list.
I want peace and quiet. I want my kids to stop leaving rap music in my car CD player to blast out at me every time I start the car in the morning. I want the cell phones of all the cell phoneys to self-destruct when I’m trying to have a nice restaurant lunch. I want all the TVs tuned to Sally Jesse Raphael, or CNN, or anything that some mid-level corporate manager has picked to create the perfect ambiance for waiting rooms, to short-circuit so I can concentrate on my book, or my own thoughts.
As an artist, I want my painting to hang in the museum next to the Van Gogh, instead of in the basement next to the clothes dryer. I want fruit without those miserable little stickers, and CDs that you can open without help from a magician. I want to stop wasting time standing in line, sitting online, or untangling fishing line.
I want people to replace the empty toilet paper roll before I sit down, so I’m not forced to tear off pieces of columnists from the newspaper that I don’t agree with.
And what was it that the Founding Fathers used to snort? A good sneeze is a great thing. It completely clears your head and leaves a vacant space that all sorts of new thoughts and ideas can move into. I want to know. I want to know secrets, so I can tell them to all the other people who want to know secrets. I want to know answers. I’d even settle for knowing a few of the right questions.
I want to be the star of the show. I want to sign autographs and get the red carpet treatment and the opportunity to thank my Mom on an internationally broadcast awards ceremony. But what I really want to do is direct.
I want a good haircut. I want good hair. Hell, at this point in my life, any kind of hair at all would be wonderful.
I want everyone to acknowledge that I could have become a very successful psychiatrist, because I understand how to deal with crazy people, and I know lots of them.
There are already popular sports that involve watching people driving in circles, and running in circles. I want someone to create a sport that would be perfectly suited to my talent for pacing back and forth worrying. Then I’d like to sign a multi-year guaranteed contract along with a shoe or carpeting endorsement deal.
Finally, I want a good night’s sleep, where the phone doesn’t ring, the kids don’t scream, the garbage truck doesn’t come, and I can soar like a bird, and snore to my heart’s content.