Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shopping at Macy’s: A Christmas Story

Shopping at Macy’s
Jessica Simpson and the Glug Bug
A Christmas Story
Thomas McNulty

Not that it matters but most of what follows actually happened in 2008

Once again we made our annual pilgrimage to Chicago’s Christkindlmarket (German Christmas fair) in Daley Plaza where I bought some trinkets, drank some Glug and mourned my frozen blarney stones as the winds swept in from Lake Michigan and turned Chicago’s Loop into an iceberg. Our intention was to get some Christmas shopping done but I ended up sampling the various intoxicants instead. I was cold so I drank more Glug. Then I drank another cup. Glug is a fascinating drink; in this instance a combination of brandy and fruit juices, heated and served in a small ceramic cup. I drank some more. For those that haven’t visited Chicago, let me described the cold – That wind comes in over Lake Michigan and curls into a gigantic pit bull in heat and then slashes your balls off. Real nasty. The only remedy is Glug, but you won’t know this until you’ve gulped down some Glug. I also decided to taste the heated wine. There was also beer available. You get the idea.
It was in this intoxicated state that we pressed on through the concrete wasteland and sought refuge in Macy’s Dept. Store (It will always be Marshall Field’s to us Chicagoans). Immediately a female Macy’s employee approached me and said, “Would you like to meet Jessica Simpson?” She handed me a small white card that said: Jessica’s Fancy

I wasn’t certain who Jessica Simpson was. I know that she’s a media favorite, and that she’s competing with Britney Spears as Dumbest Blonde of the New Millennium. But I didn’t know the details. My perplexity must have shown in my face. “Smell the card.” The woman said. I pressed the card to my nose and instantly my eyes crossed and my throat constricted as if I’d inhaled mustard gas from the Argonne forest in France, circa 1917. I suppressed the gag reflex and tried to wriggle my wooden tongue loose from the top of my mouth. Somewhere in the dark labyrinth of my mind I may have smelled perfume, and a momentary image of nights in white satin flashed through my befuddled mind. Meanwhile, my wife and daughter continued on their way, oblivious to my plight. Then the Macy’s employee explained that for eighty dollars I could buy a bottle of Jessica’s perfume and receive a “free” gold lamé handbag along with a ticket to stand in line and have Jessica sign a glossy photo for me. I wasn’t sure about the perfume. There wasn’t much I could do with it. I wondered if the woman thought I was gay? And the gold lamé handbag was too large and looked like something a gay Santa would carry around on Chicago’s preppie north side. Maybe I could pour the perfume over my brawny body next summer and see if it worked as a sun-tan lotion? No, I had to snap out of it. I lurched sideways, still clutching the card.

“No, no thanks, “ I stammered, “My wife doesn’t like me talking to strange women...” and I stumbled away, shoving the card into a mannequin’s panties. I caught up with my family and hastily explained to them that Jessica Simpson was here and my daughter, knowledgeable twenty-three year old that she is, quickly filled me in on Jessica’s claim to fame. She’s a singer (I haven’t heard any of her songs), she’s a wannabe actress (I haven’t seen any of her movies) and she’s stupid (dumb blondes were put on this earth for a reason). Then my daughter explained that on television once, poor Jessica was filmed eating Chicken-of-the-Sea tuna and asked someone “Is it chicken or fish?” Thus, her nomination as Bimbo of the Year was secured. I filed away this pertinent information for later use.
We went shopping. By the fifth floor I realized the Glug I’d been drinking in Daley Plaza was fermenting. I reeled through the Men’s Clothing section and found a glimmering rack hung with black wool jackets with military style insignia and skulls emblazoned across the breast pocket. I veered toward the shirts and they all had skulls, skulls, and more skulls either embroidered into the fabric or screen-printed onto the chest. I deduced skulls are big this year. I browsed in a blur among the negligees. I found some I really liked, but then I realized my wife might protest if I asked the attractive brunette salesgirl to try them on. I sort of skipped back over to the Men’s Department where I looked at a designer T-shirt silk-screened with skulls. The price tag said $90.00. I had an idea that I could save myself $90.00 by taking a black Sharpie and drawing a skull on one of my T-shirts. Brilliant thinking! I sauntered over to my wife and told her my plan. She looked at me and said, “How much of that Glug did you drink?”
Dejected, I meandered along, lost in a blue funk. I examined the men’s briefs. They had Metallica briefs, Guitar Hero briefs, Batman briefs, Superman briefs, Spider-Man briefs, ACDC briefs, and skull briefs. I wondered why there wasn’t such a thing as edible Elvis panties. Imagine the image of a young Elvis on a pair of petite Ladies edible panties. Another brilliant thought! I went over and told my wife my brilliant plan. She looked at me and said, “Don’t wander off and get lost. You’ve had too much too drink.” While the girls were chattering away in the Dress Department I wandered off. Then I heard the crowd scream downstairs and I knew that Jessica Simpson had entered the building. I went back and talked my wife and daughter into joining me in ogling Jessica. “It’ll only take a few minutes,” I said, “We can’t be in the same building with her and not take a peek.” So we went to peek at Jessica.

Big mistake. Thousands of people had escaped the cold and crowded into Macy’s to stare at Jessica Simpson signing autographs. The crowd was enormous and in all of the hustle-bustle I became separated from my wife and daughter. I pressed ahead, the crowd pressing against me, and I was swept along like driftwood on the Colorado River. The crowd merged with other crowds. The crowded crowds came to a standstill and there she was. They had her under the lights and signing photographs at a table. I was mesmerized. I fought against the ceaseless tide and was pushed into a corner next to a redheaded mannequin with perky nipples. From this vantage point I could observe Jessica unhindered. She seemed pleasant enough. But then I remembered the Chicken-of-the-Sea story and I despaired. Could this be what they mean by “Pretty Dumb?” But I thought maybe this was all unfair to poor Jessica. She wasn’t acting stupid. In fact, she appeared to be quite friendly. The thought crossed my mind that Jessica Simpson wasn’t stupid at all. At eighty dollars a bottle she had Macy’s packed with admirers, and this during an economic recession. By Glug she was a genius! What I needed was a hot ass, a pretty face and a bottle of perfume! By Glug, I’d clean out their wallets and retire!
(As an aside to this, I apologize in advance to Ms. Simpson for the politically incorrect ribbing, and please keep in mind that I’m making as much fun of myself as I am of her)
In my Glug induced state I mused on these, and other relevant topics. Perhaps the Glug was working on me, but I suddenly felt sorry for Jessica Simpson. I decided she was attractive enough, even if I hadn’t been drinking Glug, and Glug Bless her! Somewhere in the distance Perry Como was singing a Christmas song but I wasn’t in the mood for Perry Como. I was in the mood for that alternative rock band from Boston, Dropkick Murphys, and I thought I’d rather be listening to them as Jessica Simpson danced naked for me. I pondered this image a moment. Yes...
 “Yo, Pops, you gotta move along!” I looked up and a tall, imposing security guard was frowning at me. This man had just called me Pops. I made a mental note to dye my goatee red in the morning. I stumbled away and happened to glance at the escalator. There was my wife gliding upward and snapping pictures of Jessica (photo attached). I waved my arms wildly but she was lost in the crowd. I ventured into “Christmasland” where little Christmas packages shimmered beneath gigantic red and blue ornaments and squeaky little wooden elves buggered each other beneath the mistletoe. No, wait, that can’t be right. That was the Glug talking. I buggered the elf beneath a gigantic banner featuring Jessica Simpson’s fancy face.
Leftward I skipped merrily along and made a full circle before stepping onto the escalator. The crowd surged again as we rose above Jessica, cameras clicking, and the escalator stopped. I stared down at Jessica. Something that once might have been Glug bubbled to life in my belly. Whatever sympathy I once felt for poor Jessica was obliterated by a Glugish recapitulation that hopped, skipped and jumped into my nervous system. Suddenly overcome with emotion, I yelled “Jessica! Jessica!” She might have heard me as she looked up, but then her admirers (predominantly young girls of mixed ethnicity) thronged forward. I sucked in a breath and bellowed: “Hey Jessica! You know what would have happened if the pilgrims had picked a donkey instead of a turkey? We’d all be having a piece of ass at Thanksgiving!”

And then my ears popped and the escalator jerked to life and I was propelled heavenward. Jessica dwindled to a blonde speck and I was slammed up and up and up by the pure unadulterated forces of greed, money, fanaticism and Glug. I came to a rest on Level Eight, broken and exhausted. Now I had to reunite with my family, my dalliance with Jessica Simpson but a cherished mammary...scratch that, I mean memory. So down I went, past the salivating crowd, down to Level One where the glittering decorations undulated with an eerie glow. I thought my wife and daughter would be extremely pissed-off by now. The clerk allowed me to use Macy’s house phone to call my wife’s cell phone. I blurted out my location and begged forgiveness. My wife, observing me over the balcony from Level Two, screamed down at me; “Don’t move until I get down there or I’ll kill you!” I threw up my arms in defeat.
Reunited at last, we were all famished. We found the cafeteria on the lower level but the crowds here were greater than those drooling over Jessica Simpson. To make matter worse, the shortest food line was serving rare, spotted dorsal fin of some weird creature flown in from the Caribbean and sautéed in mushroom sauce. My loyal family was content with sipping a few Cokes but I needed sustenance immediately, so I ordered the fins and ate them greedily. My wife and daughter watched in amazement as I gulped down the fins. Finally, my wife asked, “What’s it taste like?”

“Doesn’t matter.” I said between bites, “After drinking Glug everything tastes like Chicken.”

Eventually, we traveled up and out, pushing ourselves onto State Street where the wind whipped us with its cold lash. Carolers were singing hymns and gentle flakes drifted down, the street thrumming with noise, the shoppers moaning with pleasure. A sense of peace at last washed over me. I stepped up to the curb as a cab driven by a swarthy looking gentleman took the corner at full speed, the cab’s tires spinning on the ice, the slush and soot blackened snow drenching me from head to foot.

“You scum-sucking low-life!” I screamed, shaking my dripping fist. “I’ll rip out your goddamn throat you pig humping leech!”

And may we all enjoy a safe and happy Holiday Season!
(...and go easy on the Glug)

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