Monday, December 20, 2004

Behold the Awesome Power of Christmas (Merchandise)

On Sunday mornings, I take Eli to the neighborhood pancake house, and after we eat we walk over to a nearby Randall's and play the crane machine game. The crane machine is located in a large lobby area, and it's usually packed with seasonal merchandise.

This is how the entrance is laid out:

I know, that looks totally ridiculous, but I couldn't think of a way to explain it without a diagram. The 1's are the side entrances, and that's how you enter the store initially, leading to the main entrance, which is the 2's. The 0's are a long bank of windows along the exterior wall, and that's where all the seasonal merchandise is displayed.

This year, the area next to the windows is absolutely jammed. It's a frightful sight, and the centerpiece is a four-foot tall Snowman. A singing snowman. And the singing is very, very loud.

Oh, and he dances. A dancing snowman. Who bellows. At random intervals. It's a technological marvel, really it is.

Because of the way the store is laid out, when someone enters, they're turning toward the entrance and don't really notice the nearby extravaganza. When they exit, though, it's all suddenly staring them right in the face. So as Eli 3.4 was playing the crane game on Sunday, I was closely watching people when they saw Christmas Alley. Sleepy people. Uncombed hair, wrinkled clothes, a few in slippers. That's what it's like at 7:30 on Sunday morning. So they're shuffling along, heavy-lidded, head down, and suddenly "OH, THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL" bursts forth at terrifying volume. They look up, shocked, and behold the awful fury of Christmas: giant animated reindeers, eight-foot tall inflated Santas and Nutcrackers, and huge gift-wrapped boxes that open and close like some kind of holiday Venus Flytraps. And in the middle, the screaming Snowman.

Some mutter. Some curse. My favorite, though, was the lady who both dropped her bag and clutched at her chest. I could see the headline: LOCAL WOMAN KILLED BY CHRISTMAS MERCHANDISE DISPLAY.

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