Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Death of Santa Claus

Well, there's strange things done
'Neath the Iraqi sun
But the time that locked my jaws
Was the night "neath the moon when the third platoon
Gunned down Santa Claus.

Well it started off right,
just an ordinary night
We had to spend in the dirt.
Security was out, three sixty about,
With fifty-percent alert.

We had eighty-ones
and the Apache guns,
The tanks were track to track.
A .50 cal or so and an arty FO
With barrages back to back.

A sound gave me chills, '
cause out of the hills,
Eight horses came running on sand.
This may sound silly, but them mustangs looked frilly,
"My God!" I thought, "Mounted Taliban!"

He was coming our way
in what looked like a sleigh,
But then you never know what they'll use.
The flares were tripped, and the PEWs had flipped,
And the Thermals blew a fuse.

We let him get close,
and then yelled, "Who goes?"
Like they do in the movie show.
And the answer we got, believe it or not,
Was a hearty "Ho, Ho, Ho."

Now those troops of mine,
they'd seen some time,
And we'd done some things back-asswards.
They may be thick, but I'll tell you a trick,
They knew THAT wasn't the password!

The eighty-ones soared,
and the .50 cals roared,
The Apaches raised some hell.
A bright red flare flew through the air,
And we fired our FPL.

I'll give him guts,
but that guy was nuts,
Or I'm a no good liar.
He dropped like a stone in the killing zone,
And I passed the word, "Cease Fire!"

I went out and took
a real good look,
My memory started to race.
My mind plays games when it comes to names,
But I never forget a face.

He was dressed all in red
and he looked well fed,
He was older than most I'd seen.
He looked right weird with that long white beard,
And them stumps where his legs had been.

He hadn't quite died
when I reached his side,
But the end was clearly in sight.
I knelt down low and he said real slow,
"Merry Christmas, and to all a good night!"

We should have known
our "cool" was blown,
When the light in the east we seen.
But it looked like flares, and it couldn't be theirs,
Or the damned things would have been green!

So I picked up the hook
with a voice that shook,
And said "Gimme the Six and be quick."
"Colonel," I said "Hang onto your head,
We just greased old Saint Nick."

Now the ol' Man's cool,
he's nobody's fool,
Right off he knew the word.
If this got out, there'd be no doubt,
He wouldn't be making his "bird."

"Just get him up here
and we'll play it by ear,
Make sure of the Med-Evac tag,
Dismantle that sleigh, drive them reindeer away,
And bury that stupid bag."

Now by and by
the kids may cry,
'Cause there's nothing on Christmas mornin',
But the word just came in, from headquarters men
That Santa had gone over to Bin Laden.

Well, there's strange things done
'Neath the Iraqi sun,
But the time that locked my jaws,
Was that night 'neath the Moon when the third platoon,
Gunned down Santa Claus.

- Author Unknown - (adapted from a Vietnam War version)

Friday, December 17, 2004

It’s going to be a merry Christmas after all!

It was cold and brisk Saturday as I drove up and down the aisles looking for a parking place at the mall. Quite a hike it turned out to be and I nudged my jacket collar up and braced against the wind. The southern sun twinkled off the plastic holly and glass balls affixed to cars as holiday ornaments.

As I walked, I could only think about how cruel this season is. The pressure that comes from having to fight crowds to buy that “perfect gift” and the endless string of parties with people you don’t like. I felt my spine stiffen with resentment, more with each step.

As I neared the mall entrance, between Luby’s and Dillards, I couldn’t help but notice a small, dark-haired boy sitting dejected on the curb. He couldn’t have been more than twelve years old, and as I drew nearer, I could see he was crying.

The feelings of resentment and anger began melting as I started to open the door. It would have been easy to pass him without another thought. It’s not my problem, right?

I hesitated, then turned and walked back to where the lad sat weeping. “What’s wrong,” was all I could manage to get out. He looked up at me with large watery brown eyes. Slowly he stood to face me.

“Our Christmas money,” he whispered almost choking. “My mother works two jobs to take care of us since dad left last year. She doesn’t have time to shop for us for Christmas.”

“She saved all year, and dropped me off here with two hundred dollars and told me to pick out nice presents for my two sisters, my brother and me.”

“As she drove away, two boys from my school saw me. They are the same boys that shove me on the play ground. Sometimes I’m scared to ride the bus home because they have said they would follow me and hurt me. Mom’s never home when I get there after school. She works so much…”

“One of the boys grabbed one of the hundred dollar bills from me and they both ran away laughing. How can I ever explain to my mother that I could only buy half as much for my sisters and brothers?

I could tell that he had already decided to spend what was left only on them, with no thought for himself. “Did nobody try to help you?” I asked.

“No,” he replied, “They all kept walking by.”

“Did you cry for help?” I asked, really having trouble believing that nobody, I mean NOBODY, would stop to help this poor waif.

“Yes,” he said quietly, “like this – help!”

It was barely more than the whisper that he spoke in. “Is that as loud as you can yell?” I asked, beginning to understand why no one came to his aid.

He nodded, and looked down, ashamed.

I cast a furtive glance around the parking lot to see if anyone was watching. They weren’t. I snatched the other hundred dollar bill from his hands and ran as fast as I could to my car. I never looked back to see if he went for help.

A hundred dollars! It’s going to be a merry Christmas after all!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Nobody Cares

Ever been mistreated by a fast-food establishment? I hesitate to use the word restaurant because that somehow implies that the food might be good. While it's pretty much a given that the food isn't going to be world-class (when's the last time you said, "wow, that McDonalds burger was gooood!"?) sometimes for expediency sake you suck it up and do it.

The latest Subway commercials where the guy suggests, "how about going for a it looks so much better in the picture?" hit me a few weeks ago and I decided to try Domino's double stack pizza. Yes, I realize that if you take Ragu sauce and top the cardboard box that Domino's comes in it's actually more tasty than the pizza they make, but this actually looked good on the TV ad.

I called up the local Dominos and after a discussion on the prices and variables was told I could get the first one with two toppings for $9.00 and the second one with any toppings I wanted for just $5.00 more. I specifically asked if that could mean a supreme or whatever they happen to call it and the dude said yes.

When I arrived at the store to try my new gastronomic fantasy, they looked at me like I was an alien from space. One dude came up from the back to try and help and I instantly recognized his voice as the one who answered the phone. When he heard me describe my order he whipped around and skeedaddled back to the kitchen. Then counter dude proceeds to tell me that not only will it take 25 minutes for them to prepare my order (that I called ahead on) but that I was wrong about the toppings on the second pizza and it would cost me twice what I was quoted.

I disrespectfully declined and left with a somewhat sour expression on my face. When I got home I sent a complaint email to Domino's and was told they would definitely look into the incident and get back with me. Three weeks later I responded to the email they sent me that I had heard nothing. I got a second email apologizing for being so inept and promising to get back to me. It's been two weeks since the second email from Domino's and I'm convinced that not only is their food lousey, but they don't care.

Actually I don't know if the new double pizza is bad or not, I never got to try it. But I will assume that it's twice as bad as a single.

The whole incident reminds me of the time Taco Bell served my family tacos with lettuce that had been washed in dishwater. I think the manager called it "product." When I asked him what product was, he said the stuff we wash dishes with. He demanded a receipt before he would replace the bad tacos.

Oh yeah, Taco Bell never responded either.

If you want bad food, poor service, and cleaning chemicals in your diet, be sure to patronize Taco Bell and Domino's Pizza.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Son2 and I went to First Assembly's Christmas show tonight. It was the Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

No, really it was. An inventive tale about a couple who inherits the church's Christmas pageant from the overbearing grande dame of Christmas pageants. Determined to make it the best one ever, just to show her, they hold tryouts for principal parts.

What they didn't count on was the Herdmans turning out. The Herdmans are a very large family of the meanest, nastiest, rudest children in the town world. They have no idea who any of the parts in the Christmas story are or how they fit in, only that they want to play the lead roles -- en masse.

To make a not-so-long story not so long, something seems to rub off on the Herdmans during the process and the pageant turns out surprisingly well to everyone's, um, surprise. Even the crabby lady making baked goods in the kitchen says, "I think it's the best Christmas pageant ever..."

The cast was wonderful, the production flawless and we laughed pretty hard through most of it. Problem is, now son2 wants to be a Herdman when he grows up...