Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

A quest for common ground …

I’m not really sure how to write this and not destroy the noble and righteous name that is Had A Few Beers.

Really, the words I’m about to write may collapse the walls insulating our heroic, and might I say “inspired” blog as easily as the Roman siege engines ripped apart Carthage’s defense during the third Punic war.

Stoic really ...

Stoic really …

Was that reference obscure for you? Well then strap in, because it’s about to get worse.

Be sure to check for liquids that might, if spilled, damage the device your reading this on. When you discover the dark secret I’m about reveal, in a fit of panic, rage or orgasmic joy, you could knock that drink over and cause untold millions of dollars in collective damage?

If you haven’t checked for said liquids you should. Please remove them from your immediate reading area now.

Thanks. Did you also wipe up that little water sweat ring that forms when you put down a cold drink on a warm surface? If not, you should do such now. (That directive has little to do with this blog and everything to do with my having lived with a clean-freak for the last 600 years.)

Now, onto the revelation. DRUMROLL PLEASE …

My wife played Everquest with me!

No one was held at gunpoint, the lives of kittens did not hang in the balance.

She willingly agreed to play Everquest with me.

This came about because of reasons.

Like many couples, we try to do something together that’s just us once a week. Also, like many couples, that quickly devolves into, “Let’s sit our fat-asses on the couch and watch a movie together because that’s easy.”

One particular Saturday she suggested I watch some “chick flick” with her and I jokingly said something to the effect of “Only if you spend the same amount of time next Saturday playing Everquest with me.”

She, to my befuddlement, agreed. I spent the next two hours watching a movie about a couple who were clearly meant to be together, but who were separated by circumstance, then eventually come together, break up and then, and this is the shocking part, get back together to live happily ever after.

I did this without making rude comments or pointing out the absurdity of the situation. I don’t know how I did it either. I think I did it by thinking about how I would introduce her to online gaming while appeared to give a shit about the upwardly mobile woman in the movie and her romantic interest.

I do remember thinking, “How the hell am I going to do this?”

When I asked her what kind of video games she had played in the past, she said Pong. That was the last, and it turns out, only video game she’s ever played.

Pong, as in two pixilated sticks batting a pixilated ball back and forth across a, presumably, black and white television that used actual vacuum tubes.

I considered reminding her of her short stint with “Words with Friends” but thought better of it.

Evercrack, World or Dorkness, and all of these role-playing games are not that complicated, at a basic level. All online games are routinely mastered by legions of racist/homophobic 13-year-olds, as any online gamer can attest.

I don’t know if I should have set her down with a large white board for a 45-minute class about computer gaming in general and online gaming specifically or what, but I did realize that my wife was not so much a gaming partner as she was a gaming student.

Like this?

Like this?

Look, like it or not, most online fantasy-type games can be linked to Dungeons and Dragons. For those not familiar with the concept of Dungeons and Dragons, let me give you the Reader’s Digest version.

Dungeons and Dragon’s founder Gary Gygax basically read a crapton of fantasy novels and then physically had sex with all of the books. Really, Gygax carved a hole into each book and made sweet, sweet love to each of them.

The product of that coupling are today’s online games with racist/homophobic 13-year-olds somehow added into the mix.

Gygax basically codified the whole thing. He wrote down that Gandolf was a wizard, wizards are smart. Bilbo was a thief, thiefs are sneaky, Aragorn is a ranger, rangers are fast and good with bow and arrow. Trolls are on the internet making people angry. That kind of shit.

Yet, my wife has never heard of Gary Gygax and I’m pretty sure she’s slept through every one of my monthly drunken, “Hey let’s watch the Lord of the Rings until I pass out” super fun events.

There’s tons of better, more in-depth source material out there if you’re interested, but in a nut shell most (not all) online games have a variety of classes (think job or purpose) that a player takes on while playing the game. All players have to choose a class or their online character is unemployed and is forced to watch a lot of daytime TV.

My first task was to introduce my wife to the concept of “classes.” Everquest has a handy summary page that outlined what each class did and she, while rolling her eyes, read it. She decided on the enchanter. Which was great, until she decided that her race (yeah, these games have races like elves, dwarfs, trolls and ogres) was going to be troll. When I explained to her that certain races had restrictions on what class they could be and that trolls weren’t allowed to be enchanters she declared the game to a racist bunch of bullshit. Which still cracks me up.

An appropriate race was selected and a few moments later we were in the game!

I was excited and had like 87 nerd boners all at the same time.

She was in the game’s tutorial and she wanted to read every bit of instruction the tutorial provided. I’ve been playing this shit for years and quickly jumped into “facilitate her learning process.”

Are you laughing at that last sentence? You’re laughing aren’t you? If not you should be.

She later described me as basically a drill sergeant for dorks.

“Push that button! Move the mouse like this! There will be an inspection of your copper pieces at 0400 and control your DPS until the tank has positive control, no not like that, like this!”

Yeah, I had decided people who are paid money to think though the intricate and detailed process of introducing someone to a complex game were idiots and that I knew better.

The high points from my CliffNotes tutorial were that she equated her inventory with her character’s closet and, for her, the basics of movement in the game was like watching a drunk baby attempt to walk. WASD (the keys on the keyboard that control your characters movement) were lost on her. Even now, a few weeks in, her skill at using the keys is barely at the level of a toddler that’s had too much sugar and who knows … I’m really crappy with baby analogies.

When I asked her the next day if she had fun her answer was, “I don’t know.”

She explained that she had no idea what she was doing and was just following my directions. Nothing about what she did at my direction made sense. She had pressed the number 1 on the keyboard because I told her too, not because she understood doing so caused her character to perform an action that was associated with the number 1 key.

Crestfallen, I asked if she would be kind enough to give it another try later.

She agreed and I went back to the drawing board.

I asked my guild for help, because fuck you I’m in a guild. But they were no help. Most of their advice ranged from how effective the enchanter was at high-end raiding, to mocking me for mistakenly referring to another (male) guild member as “hun” several weeks back. (That’s fucking hysterical! ~Fran)

The next time Dagmar and I played she picked a Ranger and I let her read every damned thing the tutorial had to offer. If the tutorial talked about how you could load a CD into the computer’s CD tray in order to listen to music, I let her read it. Years ago Everquest had an online feature that allowed you to order a real life pizza through some national chain. If that was briefed in the tutorial, she fucking read it because I butted the fuck out. I was there for any questions she had, but otherwise I kept my too-clever-by-half mouth shut.

It seemed to be working. She understood that she needed to attack the monsters with little to no prompting from yours truly. She grasped, on a basic level, the difference between a melee attack, a ranged attack and a spell attack.

What I mean to say is that things progressed. In a month or two I could see her and I having adventures in Everquest together. Fighting against the evil side-by-side. Dagmar’s ranger, Lordana, and I would eventually be fighting side-by-side, questing, slaying rare evil beasts and amassing great treasures. It would be our thing you see, our little fun thing to do on Saturdays when the weather was shitty.

Progress had been made, she still had a lot to learn, but that would come with time. This plan was going great. She dinged level 14 and asked if she needed to get new spells. She attacked the monster I was currently fighting instead of dragging every other monster within a 50-mile radius into the battle. She understood that the blue pants I have were better for her “Armor Class” than the green ones, even if she thought the green ones looked better on her character’s butt.

This was going great. I felt like we’d reached a common ground. I vowed to myself that any shitty chick flick she wanted to watch I’d try my hardest to enjoy, because clearly we had much more in common than I’d thought. After all, here we were, 17 decades into our marriage and she’d tried and liked, and was becoming skilled at something I enjoyed for the first time in the history of Toddmar.

Until this Sunday when I overheard her talking to our daughter on the phone.

“Yeah, we’re playing the game together,” she said.

Mumble mumble, I heard from her daughter through the shitty iPhone held to Dagmar’s ear.

“No, what? No, it’s fucking stupid. What? No I’m only doing it because he loves it so much when I do.”

So, anyone want to play Everquest?

Part Three: Santa’s Night Out — A Tale of Three Deliveries

Had a Few Beers: This is Part Three of a three-part series.  Part One is available here and Part Two is available here )

HAFB-Santa-Bar-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIG

Part Three

Christmas Morning … the Reckoning

The sleigh was parked peacefully behind the bar. After leaving the Garcia house Santa felt there was again hope.

He was inside the bar, at ease among its torn and worn wallpaper. The barstools wobbled, the TV was out of focus, the bar was uneven and even bartender was indifferent.

It was the only bar open at this hour, so by the process of elimination, it was, well — perfect.

“You need something,” Raoul the bartender asked barely glancing away from the TV.

Santa thought while he lit up another Kool. The memories of the Miller, Johnson and Garcia deliveries flooded back in.

Jesus, this had been the worst Christmas ever and it was supposed to be the easiest.

“Tequila and whatever you have on draft,” Santa answered.

Raoul indifferently served both up and went back to watching the fuzzy TV above the bar.

Santa laughed for a moment as the news station reported his progress back to the North Pole.

After slamming back the tequila, he pulled out his iPhone and checked his Facebook.

My friends are such shit heads, he thought as he scrolled though his newsfeed.

The Easter Bunny’s newest selfie was the first thing that appeared. Santa checked EB’s other updates and it was just selfie, after selfie, after selfie.

Too much cute!

Too much cute!

Why the fuck was this bunny constantly in front of a mirror, taking photos of himself? It was bullshit. You’re a fucking bunny, for the love of all that’s holy. We get it — you think you’re cute. And how fucking easy was his job anyway? Hide a few eggs and a few cheap plastic toys around the house on the night before Easter morning – a robot could do that shit.

Santa scrolled through EB’s photos, it was all the same shit. Cute bunny photo, followed by sexy bunny photo, followed by fake nerdy bunny photo.

The Easter Bunny’s production costs were nonexistent and his continual self-promotion was grinding on Santa’s already frayed nerves. Why the fuck was the bunny constantly making duck lips in each and every photo he took of himself? And was it so hard to ensure the background of those photos was free of dirty clothes, empty food dishes and trash? How could EB’s considerable followers not call these things into question?

“Fuck the bunny,” Santa said out loud.

Raoul turned from the TV and Santa nodded silently toward his empty shot glass. Raoul filled it and went back to the TV without a word.

Santa looked back at his phone and noticed a new red “1” on his newsfeed icon. He clicked it. It was a new update from the Leprechaun. Finally, Santa thought, something from a reputable holiday hero that would have some substance.

Only it didn’t.

The Leprechaun had long since gone political.

This time is was a post railing against the injustices at Guantanamo Bay and advocating that anyone associated with its administration be tried by an international war-crimes tribunal. The post below that argued on behalf of some insurgent group or another in Central Africa. The next post was another call to action after someone tall was sentenced to a shorter stay in jail than a short person convicted of a similar crime. The Leprechaun was having none of that! He was calling for the judge in the case to be assaulted in a very-very violent and anatomically impossible way. The fourth and final post Santa read railed against the NSA, which the Leprachaun alleged spied on everyone.

The last one caused Santa to quietly chuckle. He clicked “Like” hoping this quick, small interaction would feed the half-pint’s paranoid nature. Fuck the Leprechaun and his “pot of gold.” Santa knew the short little shit had blown most of it on hookers and gambling in the early 70s anyway.

Santa was about to shut the damn smart phone off when it happened, the Facebook instant message light lit up.

He clicked open the message and immediately regretted it.

It was from the Tooth Fairy.

Before anyone reading this was even born, the Tooth Fairy and Santa had an affair. Not just a run-of-the-mill affair, but a passionate, tumultuous, turbulent and at-times chaotic affair.

In other words, the bitch was nuts.

delete, delete, delete

delete, delete, delete

“Hey Santa <3< 3 <3 just wanted to say hey!!!!!!! I hope ur not working 2 hard on ur buzy night!!!!!!!! Cupid and I just landed in Bali for a vacation so he can rest up for his busy season in February!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s soooooo pretty here! Thinking of you XOXOXO …”

If eye-rolls made noise, Santa’s would’ve been audible two states away. Cupid’s busy season consisted of ginning up business for the good people at Hallmark and prancing around in a diaper for a few hours. Fact of the matter was, Santa wasn’t all together certain that Cupid wasn’t in fact gay and that his “adorable” wife was nothing more than the type of eye candy required of a person in his line of work.

It pissed off Santa to no end. The Tooth Fairy had so much more potential. There was so much she could’ve done, that they could have done, if she’d said yes when he asked her to marry him those eons ago. But she didn’t and they’d drifted apart. Every millennial or so she’d drop Santa a note and more and more the notes only seemed a cruel and unsuccessful effort on her part to prove what a great and wonderful life she led.

This message was no different. Here she was bouncing around to various vacation destinations without a care in the world. Oh well, it was generally well known in certain circles that she’d long since outsourced her cash-for-teeth program and her “National Tooth Fairy day” initiative (sponsored by who other than Hallmark) was a washed up, dead-on-arrival holiday idea that everyone had long since forgotten about.

Santa drained his second tequila shot and washed it down with his beer. Maybe Mrs. Clause wasn’t so bad after all, he thought. Despite her seemingly incessant naggings, she loved him. She stood by him. She only wanted the best for him.

Something on the TV caught Santa’s eye. He asked Raoul to turn up the volume.

“We have some breaking news from California,” the news anchor said. “It seems the Drug Enforcement Agency gave itself an early Christmas present. In spite of California’s recent legalization of medical marijuana, DEA agents netted the largest marijuana seizure in Sacramento history this morning in a raid at the home of local pot aficionado Juan Garcia. An agency spokesperson credited the raid’s success with the DEA’s cooperation with the NSA …”

The reported continued on as a stunned Santa watched men in black uniforms pour out of the Garcia home. Then, just to confirm it, there was footage of a handcuffed and clearly frightened Garcia being taken out of a police vehicle.

“Jesus Christ, I was just there,” Santa said out loud.

A hooded figure across the bar who’d gone unnoticed up to that point responded.

“The NSA is in everything,” the man said. “Trust me, I know.”

“I don’t get it,” Santa replied. “Why is National Santa Assistance ruining all these people’s lives? I mean sure, I’m down with a little ‘shaming’ for particularly bad boys and girls, but even then I limit it to some coal. None of these families were not bad at all.”

“The National Santa Assistance …” the man questioned.

“Yeah, the NSA,” Santa said as he ordered a beer for him and his new friend and took a seat beside him.

It took a while, but Santa recounted for the man the story of the disastrous deliveries he made throughout the night and how it all seemed to begin with his deal with the NSA.

The man was initially skeptical that Santa was indeed Santa, but after viewing the sleigh, the empty sack of gifts and Rudolf’s disgusting proclivity, he was convinced.

The young man introduced himself to Santa and the name rang a bell in Santa’s head, but he wasn’t sure why. The kid seemed nice enough.

Santa excused himself to take a leak and ran the name through the Naughty or Nice List on his iPhone. Edward Snowden came up on the review list with extra asterisks alongside it. Seems there was evidence he had stolen something. Which in and of itself was of course was very naughty indeed. But it seemed that the something he had stolen was actually something that was potentially safer in Snowden’s hands than in the original owner’s hands.

The case had been marked for executive review by a committee of elf ethics attorneys before the NSA’s miraculous offer to take over Santa’s list.

“Listen Santa,” Edward started when returned to the bar. “NSA doesn’t stand for National Santa Assistance it’s the National Security Agency.”

Then Edward took a few minutes to bring Santa up to speed on the whole NSA situation and with each detail Santa’s jaw dropped a little further.

“So how are you back in the country, why aren’t you still in Russia,” Santa finally asked.

Edward explained that the information he’d “collected” allowed gave him such insight into the NSA’s workings, he was able to slip back into the country from time to time undetected. He knew all the back doors.

“Holy crap,” Santa mumbled to himself drinking in all the information Edward had provided him. Exhausted, he laid his head on the bar for moment to contemplate the wickedness of it all.

“Yeah,” Edward said, “I know, I know. It’s a bitch, but I’m trying to fix it.”

Santa grunted, still stunned from the news. He and Edward talked a few minutes more before Santa excused himself and, after scarfing down a greasy burger from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant next door, he launched the sleigh northward.

Once he was safely airborne, Santa used the phone to call headquarters.

“Executive Santa Division, this is Legolas speaking, how can I help you Santa,” said the elf-formerly-known-as-George.

Jesus, again with the Legolas crap, Santa thought.

“Yeah, ah, Legolas, I need you to help me with something. I need you to access the database that controls who has read/write access to the Naughty or Nice List,” Santa said.

After a brief pause Legolas told Santa he had done such.

“Good Legolas, I need you to remove all NSA access to the list. Can you do that?”

“I can, of course Santa, but that requires that you initiate Santa Operating Procedure number …”

Santa cut him off.

“Look Legolas, would you like an authentic Lord of the Rings Legolas bow and arrow set for being such a good boy?”

This question was followed by several seconds of excited yelling on the other end of the phone. It was obvious to Santa that Legolas would indeed like an authentic Legolas bow and arrow set for Christmas.

“Yes, sir,” he finally said, “I would like that very much, sir.”

“Then yank all NSA access to the Naughty or Nice List. I don’t want there to be any access to the list outside of the traditional, pre-NSA, personnel.

For several moments Santa could hear Legolas furiously clicking on a keyboard.

“It’s done sir, will there be anything else?” Legolas asked.

“Yes, a few things. First I need all NSA incoming calls to the North Pole automatically redirected. Can you do that.”

The elf quickly answered that he could.

“Good Legolas, I want all incoming calls from the NSA directed to the Johnson’s in North Carolina. Also, I need all funds that were transferred into our accounts from the NSA immediately redirected into a general purpose legal defense fund for the Miller and Garcia families. I’ll clear it with the legal team when I get back, but unless I say otherwise, that money can only be used on their legal bills, understood?”

Several more moments passed with furious keyboard clicking by Legolas before the elf confirmed he had done what Santa asked.

“OK, Legolas I need you to take every name associated with the National Santa Assistance organization and put them on the naughty list – with three asterisks by their names.”

This request was met with a gasp on the other end of the line. Legolas was right to gasp, three asterisks next to a name on the naughty list meant one thing, coal for Christmas with extreme prejudice, a fate reserved for only the naughtiest of the naughty.

Several seconds later Legolas reported that the task was complete.

“Anything else, Santa,” the elf asked.

Santa assured him there would not be and wished Legolas a Merry Christmas before hanging up.

Santa checked the onboard computer and only seconds had passed before he noticed the NSA was on to what he had just done, but all of their phone calls had been redirected already to the Johnsons.

“Shoot me in the ass with a BB gun again junior,” Santa laughed.

He checked to make sure his flight path back home was on track before making one more call.

Seconds later a voice came on the line.

“Santa, good to hear from you, we’re tracking you as heading on a course back to headquarters. What can I help you with?”

It was Sara from the warehouse, one of the precious few elves that hadn’t insisted on being called Legolas, and it was a relief for Santa.

“Sara, I’ve got a weird question for you. How many Legolas bow and arrow sets do we have in stock?”

Sara groaned.  “Well Santa we have 637 sets here, none outbound and none inbound.”

“Great, I need every North Pole elf named Legolas to receive one.”

Sara laughed, clicked on her computer and seconds later assured Santa it was done. They would all be under the tree when the elves awoke in a few short hours.

Santa hung up and quickly composed a text to Mrs. Claus not wanting to wake her, but wanting to reassure her if she was still awake and waiting on him

“Be home in less than an hour. Crazy night, you’re not going to believe it when I tell you. No Duck Dynasty for me until the attic is cleaned tomorrow, promise! Love you … see you soon,” it said.

Santa banked the sleigh slightly to the left and down when he felt something tap softly on the heel of his boot. Curious, he fished around under the driver’s seat and found the culprit, an unopened beer had rolled out of its hiding place.

Santa cracked it open, took a good healthy sip and smiled.

It had turned out to be a merry Christmas after all.

Part Two: Santa’s Night Out — A Tale of Three Deliveries

Had a Few Beers:  This is Part Two of a three-part series.  Part One is available here

HAFB-Santa-Amazon-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIG

 Part 2

Santa flies high in the sky Christmas night

“You goddamn sonofabitch,” Mrs. Claus’ screeched in the voicemail. “Why the hell aren’t you home yet? You had three goddamned deliveries! And Legolas just came to the door looking for the Christmas bonuses. I told him that you were a no-good sonofabitch and guess what — it wasn’t news to him.

“You have to work ONE DAY, Kris! One day of the year, for gawd sake! Call me!”

Santa cringed. She can be such a bitch sometimes, he thought gulping his beer. This beer is delicious, he thought as his sleigh flew over the  Appalachians. Does a red nose up your ass feels good, he wondered as the malt and barley soothed his mood.

“Hey honey, two more deliveries to go,” Santa slurred in the return phone call.

“Are you drunk,” Mrs. Claus demanded.

“No,” Santa scoffed. “That’s ridiculous! Who dets grunk when they’ve got presents to deliver. You’re so silly.”

“Who dets grunk?” Mrs. Claus repeated.

“Huh? Are you drunk,” Santa laughed heartily. “Sweetie, are you drunk?”

“You said, ‘dets grunk’ Kris, I’m not stupid,” she hissed.

“What I said was, I love you. Listen, I’m ahh flying over Lake Michigan and we might lose the signal here. Gotta go!” He slammed the phone down.

Following the debacle in Minnesota, Santa was relieved when at last his sleigh finally touched down outside the Jackson home in North Carolina. This time fewer tree tops fell victim to the sleigh and he only sideswiped  a couple cars as he skidded to a halt outside the rural home.

Santa was relieved the night was nearly half over. Just this delivery and one more and he was finished for the year.

He surveyed the damage he left in his wake before shrugging and grabbing the ever-shrinking bag of gifts.

Wiggling his nose, he was about to walk through the front door when a noise caught his attention.  It was faint at first, but grew increasingly louder by the second. Within moments it became almost deafening.

Something swooped past Santa’s head. He swatted at it wondering what kind of insane rabid bat was attacking him. Something else flew past the other side of his head. He spun around trying to locate it.

Suddenly the air was thick with giant bugs carrying what he assumed were bombs. They were everywhere in an instant. He could barely see the sleigh from the doorstep there were so many.

Santa screamed and thrashed about. He batted at them with his sack managing to kill one and send another careening wildly off into the darkness. In an attempt to escape the assault, he rushed inside and slammed the door behind him. But the gnats were also inside. As he ran toward a door across the room, his foot became tangled in the tree lights and he dragged the tannenbaum behind him as he crawled into a closet.

Panting and panicked in the darkness, he was just getting his bearings when he heard that familiar buzz. Sonofabitch! One of the foul creatures was in there too! Assuming his usual fighting posture, Santa peed a little then thrashed about. The beast was formidable. Its flesh wasn’t like a bug’s at all. It had cold metallic limbs and instead of wings, it had rotors. The cramped quarters were to Santa’s advantage, however. No matter what part of his body he moved, he was able to harm the assailant. In the end, the bug was too small to defeat the hefty Claus and he managed to kill it.

Running his hand along the wall, he found a switch. Light poured into the closet.

The bug wasn’t a bug at all, but a miniature helicopter with the word “Amazon” emblazoned on its side. In a claw it clutched, of all things, a Christmas present.

Santa ticked off the list of Christmas enemies he’d defeated in the past: the HAFB-Santa-Amazon-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIGGrinch, the Abominable snowman and some asshole named Scrooge. None of them were ingenious enough to make one, let alone millions of these things.

Whoever this Amazon was he was a sonofabitch that was for sure.

“I’ll have to ask the NSA about this,” Santa whispered to himself, his tongue thick with hops and cottonmouth.

The buzzing outside the door hadn’t fully abated when he heard a voice from outside the closet.

“Holy shit, Sue Ellen, the gubbermints finally come after us!”

The words were punctuated by what sounded like a volley of gunshots.

“Yee haw,” the man yelled. “Wake up junior, he’s going wanna get some of dis here action …” which was again followed by several gunshots.

Santa put his hand on the closet’s door knob and slowly counted to three. On three he took a deep breath and rushed out into the living room turned war zone. Besides the toppled tree and crushed decorations, the room was now filled with a thin layer of smoke. The floor was littered with Amazon corpses, some of them still struggling to fly despite their bullet-riddled bodies.

“There’s one of them now, Paw!” called a boy from atop the upstairs.

Santa looked up and saw 8-year-old Junior leveling, what looked to be a Red Ryder carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle at him.

Santa ran desperately toward the front door of the house knowing full well that he would be lucky if he was only hit by a BB. A stinging pain on his left butt cheek forced him to jump a little as he heard the boy cry out, “I got him paw, I got him!”

Santa was barely outside the door when a large chunk of the door’s frame exploded by his head from as another round of the shotgun.

“Come back here mister Ffff Beee Eye man!” called out the father.

There was no time to think. In an instant Santa was in the sleigh, gaining altitude and taking evasive maneuvers. In the process of a terribly sharp bank to the right Santa’s cooler and his uneaten sandwiches disappeared over the side and, with any luck, Santa hoped, fell onto the Jackson’s roof.

Once the sleigh had righted itself and was free of any danger, Santa pointed the navigation system toward the last stop of the night, Sacramento, Calif.

He briefly considered stopping for more beer and a bite to eat, but decided it would be easier to just finish the delivery and call it a night.

Santa gripped the reigns firmly, steeled his face against the cold night wind and raced for California.

Outside a quiet suburban home in Sacramento, Santa had his first flawless landing of the night. Not a single tree top was trimmed, nor were any of the numerous Priuses along the street scratched, dinged or damaged.

The woefully empty toy sack lifted out of the sleigh with ease. Tired, famished and with a sore left ass cheek, Santa strode confidently to the front door, failing to notice a small sign on the curb that read: “Sacramento Medical Marijuana Dispensary, Please inquire within.”

Santa, partly out of exhaustion and partly out of frustration, wasted no time wiggling his nose and opening the front door.

Everything inside was quiet and peaceful. A fire flickered lazily in the fireplace, the lights on the Christmas tree blinked softly and the whole house smelled wonderfully of freshly baked cookies.

“I wonder if…,” before Santa could finish the thought he saw them — an awaiting plate of cookies and a full glass of milk glistened on the mantel. There was even a small note written in crayon by a child.  “For Santa, thank you. From, Tyler.”

Santa could’ve cried. Could’ve, but didn’t. He gobbled down the cookies like a half-starved madman and then gulped the milk just as quickly.

The snack did the trick, taking Santa’s mind off his hunger for a moment as he reflected on the disastrous evening. The Miller and the Jackson deliveries were botched abortions, yet here, finally, Santa had been handed what looked to be a normal house.

There was mistletoe hung above the door to the kitchen. On the fireplace four stockings were lovingly embroidered with names: Mom, Dad, Raymond and Isabelle.

Beneath the trees were presents from Mom, Dad, the kids, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. Santa took a moment, drinking it all in, even surveying the family photos adorning the walls.

As he became lost in the Norman Rockwell-look of the Garcia home, a beautiful golden retriever came down stairs.

At first glance the dog startled Santa, but he’d long since become accustomed to family dogs and they’d become used to him. The dog wagged her tail and Santa bent down to give her a good thorough scratching behind the ears and on her belly.

The house was just perfect, he thought. This, he knew, would be his moment, his chance to make amends for the mishaps of the last two deliveries.

This house, he told himself, would end perfectly.

Free to conduct the task at hand, Santa knelt down and reached into his bag.

The first gift he pulled out was addressed to the father, and he set it lovingly under the tree. The next was for the mother and he treated that present in a similar fashion. The kid’s gifts were next and he placed each with loving care at the front of the pile of gifts so that they might be seen first.

Gifts in place, Santa stood up and admired his work. It was odd, he’d been doing this sort of thing for countless years, but this particular set of gifts almost brought tears to his eyes.

As he looked at the picturesque scene, oblivious to the world around him, Mr. Garcia, dressed in pajamas came downstairs in search of a midnight snack.

“Whoa, dude, you are real,” Garcia’s voice rang out from behind Santa.

Yeah, Santa got high.  Deal with it.

Yeah, Santa got high. Deal with it.

Santa jumped, but not so much. The serenity of the house had, for once this night, soothed him.

Typically in this sort of situation Santa would have activated his invisibility shield the moment anyone walked into the room, but, for reasons he couldn’t explain, he didn’t.

Instead he giggled.

Santa giggled, and giggled and giggled some more. Garcia giggled too.

“Dude,” Santa finally managed to say, “I’ve always been real, man.”

“I knew it,” Garcia said in hushed tones, “You’re like awesome and stuff. Man, my kids love you. Hell, I love you.”

Yeah,” Santa replied with wide grin and an upnod. “Shit, man I just do …stuff. It’s cool.”

“I totally know you do, bro!,” Garcia said. “You have like THE best job in the world. No doubt.”

Then he paused for a moment to rethink that statement.

“Well, actually,” Garcia snickered. “I have the BEST job in the world.”

It was about this time that Santa realized something was amiss. He suddenly craved Cheetos and had an unbelievable case of cottonmouth.

“Hey,” Santa said, moving in slow motion across the room. “Ya got something to drink?”

“Ohhhh,” Garcia said gleefully bouncing up and down and pointing at Santa, “How you feelin’, vato?”

“I feel funny,” Santa remarked

“Yeah ya do, man, those cookies had some of the dankest bud in Cali in them,” Garcia said, before adding, to no one in particular, “Man, I got Santa stoned!”

Seeing the panic cross Santa’s face, Garcia walked over and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, yo. I won’t let anything happen to you. I’m not gonna be the guy who killed Santy Clogs,” he said.

The next few hours were hazy for Santa. They talked about life, sports, women, toys. They solved countless world ills and brainstormed numerous life-improving inventions. Santa learned what Carne Asada was and Garcia tried, but failed, to open doors with a nose wiggle.

After some time Santa felt good enough to leave and his hunger was a thing of the past, two bags of Doritos and half a cold pizza had seen to that. After promising to stay in touch, the two men parted ways.

Outside, back in his sleigh, Santa took off into the cool morning air.

He wanted a drink, a beer before going home. His mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton and he wanted just 15 minutes to clear his head of all the night’s activities. The onboard GPS told him there was one bar, just outside of Portland, that was open at this hour on Christmas Day.

“Billy Ray’s it will have to be,” Santa said to the reindeer as he piloted the sleigh north.

(Had a Few Beers: This is the special Christmas update, the second of a three-part series. Be sure to check back soon for the conclusion, or to receive notifications of when this and other updates are published, you can always subscribe using the button on the right.)

Santa’s Night Out — A Tale of Three Deliveries

 

HAFB-Santa-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIG

Part One

The day before the night before Christmas

Jolly Old St. Nick was surprised when the nice men in suits came all the way to the North Pole from Washington D.C. for a visit. The initials on their business card read “NSA,” which they assured him stood for “National Santa Assistance.”

And what assistance it was! In exchange for unlimited access to his naughty and nice list they agreed to take care of all the Christmas Eve deliveries, even the naughty ones. The way they laughed when they promised “to shoot some coal to all the naughty boys and girls,” struck Santa as a bit odd, but otherwise their offer was a blessing.

Mrs. Claus had been on Santa’s ass for years. She incessantly nagged him to slow down, take it easy and to outsource the delivery of the toys. But if he gave up all the deliveries he’d never get to leave the house. Christmas Eve was his one night of freedom.

christmas-presents

FEDEX is here, FEDEX is here!

“Why can’t you get those lazy elves to take care of the delivery,” she complained as Santa tried to tune her out in front of the TV. “In case you haven’t noticed they haven’t built a goddamn thing in years. Have you seen all the UPS and FEDEX trucks outside their ‘factory?'”

It never ended with her. Just when he was hoping to unwind after a long day of cleaning out the reindeer stalls (and what filthy animals they were!) she’d start in.

It was always the same old shit, at least until the good men from the National Santa Assistance program showed up. This year was going to be different. With the NSA’s help, Santa only had to make three deliveries this Christmas Eve. With any luck he could have those wrapped up by midnight and be back home drinking a cold one before sunrise in Australia.

“You shouldn’t be flying around all night at your age anyway,” Mrs. Claus droned on. “Remember the Christmas you smashed the sleigh into good Mr. Washington’s face on Mt. Rushmore?”

Of course he remembered. A few too many fathers in the Pacific Northwest decided old Santa would appreciate a micro brew instead of milk with his cookies. By the time he was piloting his eight “tiny” reindeer over South Dakota, he was good and drunk — not that he’d ever let the misses know, of course.

Sadly, Rudolf had taken the brunt of the accident and the poor bastard was never the same. While none of the reindeer were exactly bright, Rudolf these days was positively brain damaged. When he wasn’t licking his own poop or drooling on himself, he was constantly trying to shove his glowing nose up Blitzen’s ass and Blitzen didn’t even seem to mind. Jesus, all the damned reindeer sort of freaked Santa out sometimes. Maybe next year he’d skip deliveries all together and butcher the lot of them. Grilling reindeer steaks with a cold one during the summer months had a certain charm.

“…and furthermore, I’ve been asking your for at least six months to clean out the attic,” Mrs. Claus’ shrill voice interrupted Santa’s train of thought. “Kris, are you even listening to me!”

In response, Santa kicked back the recliner and let one rip. Mrs. Claus stormed upstairs.

At least now he’d be able to watch Duck Dynasty in peace before embarking on his “big” deliveries.

One thing Santa was sure of — loading the sleigh for just three families was a lot easier than packing up gifts for 2.18 billion. He even had ample room for a cooler of beer and sandwiches. Normally Mrs. Claus would have made the sandwiches, but she was mad as usual. Seemed every year her attitude became as bad as her ass was wide.

Oh well, he thought. He wasn’t a spring chicken anymore anyway, what with his beer belly, pack-a-day smoking habit and love of anything pork.

Santa had just chain lit a cigarette and cracked open a can of Milwaukee’s Worst when elf Bill sauntered into the barn with a clipboard.

“What’s up, Bill,” Santa asked in as jolly a voice as he could muster.

“I’ve asked you not to call me that,” Bill growled. “My name is Legolas.”

Santa rolled his eyes. None of the elves had been the same since those fucking movies came out. Ever since watching “Lord of the Rings,” each and every one insisted on being called some variation of Legolas. It annoyed Santa to no end.

“Whatever,” Santa said.

“Your refusal to treat our heritage, history and ancestry with the proper respect is very troublesome Mr. Claus. I hope I won’t have to bring it up again to the union?”

Santa hoped not to. The last time that happened it cost him a couple million dollars and — in an agreement he still couldn’t believe was legally binding — he was required to change his name to Golem for a year.

“Fine, Legolas,” he said, stretching the name out as he said it. “Do you want a beer? It’s totally cool because I only have three deliveries this year.”

“I most certainly will not be having a beer, and neither should you,” Bill said. “I’m here to conduct the Christmas Eve pre-flight safety and quality assurance checks as required by the St. Nicholas/Elf Workers Overseas Contract agreement.”

“I know, I know, every time I turn around you Ewocs kick me in the balls.”

Bill missed the Stars Wars reference, thank god. Had he caught it and complained to the union, god knows what it might have cost.

“Knock yourself out, Legolas,” Santa said, tossing an empty can over his shoulder and cracking open a fresh one. Just as he was thinking he could get in a good half-hour nap before taking off, he noticed Rudolf again shoving his shiny red nose up Blitzen’s ass.

HAFB-Santa-Illustration-2013-12-OGMWIG

Twas the night for putting it right in her belly

An hour later, Santa was literally and figuratively “flying high” somewhere over southern Canada on his way to make his three deliveries. The sleigh’s heater was on full-blast and he’d long since stripped down to a slightly stained wife-beater T-shirt. He had headphones on attached to an iPod he “acquired” when he spilled beer on some packages, and 2 Chainz was serenading him with some business about “putting a fat rabbit on a Craftmatic.”

Santa looked at the tag: Too, Johnny. From, Santa.

“Looks like Johnny just made the naughty list,” Santa joked to himself, before flicking the tag out of the sleigh.

Almost immediately, the sleigh’s intercontinental radio crackled.

“Mr. Claus, this is Agent Smith with the National Secur … uh, the National Santa Assistance program. We’ve received information that you’d like to add Johnny Miller to the naughty list? Can you confirm that for us, sir?”

Santa was startled by the question. How the hell did they know that? Man, the Santa Assistance program was on the ball.

“Um yeah, definitely on the naughty list,” he said, taking a swig of beer. “Naughty, naughty, naughty.”

“Understood Mr. Claus, we’ll take care of Johnny immediately. Thank you. You’re a great American. Over and out.”

The radio went dead before Santa could explain he was only joking (and that he was in fact Canadian), but it wasn’t really important. No need to bring down the sweet vibes of 2 Chainz.

As Santa softly banked the sleigh to the right, empty beer cans rolled around in the back. Santa leaned back in the seat, put his feet up on the dash and sang along, “I put it straight in her belly!”

Some minutes later, a dashboard light came on indicating the sleigh was about to start its decent into the northern United States. Not noticing the light, Santa blissfully sipped on his beer while vaguely wondering how many cans he could fill with pee if he had to go badly enough.

It wasn’t until the sleigh almost clipped a light pole that he realized what was happening and by that point it was tragically too late. The sleigh crash landed atop a restored ’57 Chevy wrapped in a bow.

Beer cans spilled onto the street as Santa clumsily disembarked and stumbled into the shadows in case anyone heard the racket. When the coast was clear, he crept out from his hiding spot and grabbed a sack of gifts. He flung the oddly lightweight bounty over his shoulder with such force that it flew out of his hand. On unsteady feet he climbed into a holly bush to retrieve it.

“What the fuck,” Santa simultaneously hiccuped and giggled.

As he surveyed how to get into the house since the chimney was on the roof and his drunk ass was on the ground, he was too preoccupied to notice an ominous-looking black van outside the Millers or to see three armed men dragging a wriggling boy.

Just moments before Santa’s arrival, the three Miller children had been assembled in their family’s living room four houses away. There was the youngest, Stephanie, 4, and the apple of her father’s eye; the middle child, a bookish, but adorable Mary, 10; and finally the athletic and zealous 16-year-old Johnny.

Their parents, Craig and Kim, were trying to coax the kids to bed.

Craig thought Kim had a little too much wine at this point, nearly three glasses, but said nothing.  It was Christmas Eve after all and it had been a good year for him as an investment banker. Still, it wasn’t as good a year as his neighbor Mark Markson’s. A cherry ’57 Chevy sat in that driveway.packageclipart

“Now children,” Craig said slowly, enjoying the moment, “do you know what happens if Santa gets here and you’re awake?”

“No Santa,” Stephanie said.

Craig was about to answer when everything went wrong — very, very wrong.

Through the front door stormed shouting armed men in black uniforms.

“Freeze motherfuckers,” someone yelled. “On the fucking ground right now, you fucking douche bags,” yelled another.

Five more, assault rifles in hand, pushed past Craig chasing after Johnny who fled up the stairs.

“I said get on the ground motherfuckers” another officer yelled, the bead of his laser-sighted rifle catching Stephanie betwixt the eyes.

The frightened family complied.

“OK, which one of these assholes is Johnny,” one of the officers asked another.  The two then stared at a grainy cell phone surveillance photo showing Johnny with Stephanie in line to see Santa at the mall.

“We got him,” a man atop the stairs declared as Johnny struggled under his grip. “The dirtbag’s right there.”

The chaos in the house was so loud, that no one heard as Santa missed his landing outside.

A sober or slightly less drunk Santa would have realized he was at the wrong house, but a sauced Santa thought nothing of it as he futzed around with the door lock at the Marksons. It was a solid 15 minutes before he remembered all he needed to do was twitch his nose and the door would open.

“Jesus Christ, Kris,” he muttered to himself, then laughed and repeated, “Christ Kris, Christ Kris, Christ Kris.”

After taking a leak in a dormant bouganvilla bush he was making his way inside when he heard the screams from the Miller house.

“Why are you taking him,” Kim Miller pleaded as two men ushered her crying son to the van. “He hasn’t done anything.”

Santa quickly slammed the door and rushed to peek out the blinds. He could see a crush of men emerge from the Millers. Then the van sped away.

“I gotta get the fuck out of Dodge,” he whispered as he reached into his bag and flung presents at the tree.

Once the Millers were back inside, Santa stumbled off the porch and commenced to yanking the sleigh off the Chevy. Rudolf’s propensity toward tossing Blitzen’s salad made the task a bit more difficult.

As he prepared for takeoff he noticed the voicemail light on his dashboard blinking.

“Christ,” he thought ripping open a new beer and hitting “play” as the sleigh ascended into the black sky.

(Had a Few Beers: This is the special Christmas update, the first of a three-part series. Be sure to check back  this later this week for part two, or to receive notifications of when this and other updates are published you can always subscribe using the button on the right.)

Diamonds Are Not Forever … A Tale of Valentine’s Day WHOA!

This cute little story has “parts,” and by parts I mean a beginning, middle and an end. Just like a real story. Rest assured, when the end happens it will indeed be exciting and full of hilarity or pain, likely pain.

Prologue:

Twenty-years-and-some-months ago I married my wife because masturbation had begun to lose its charm and I was tired of eating nothing but bologna sandwiches. I  knew our marriage was off to a good start when both she and I  considered wedding bands an unnecessary expense. We agreed to not start our marriage off with a few thousand dollars in credit-card debt and said, “Fuck you, meaningless gesture!”

That’s how I saw it, at least. The wedding ring means literally nothing. Nada. Zilch. It’s a symbol, sure, but let’s be honest, when you boil it down, most symbolic things are pointless. To a newly married couple the wedding bands, in my mind, are pointless.

Thus, in the last two decades we never wore rings EVER because we never got them.

Does anyone see where this is going?

At the urging of my bride’s friend and daughter, I bought Dagmar a diamond-wedding ring for Valentine’s Day.

Shopping for diamonds:

diamonds: its to die for...

Stop taking photos and dig up more diamonds for chicks to wear on their fingers. Diamonds, are, it seems, to die for. (Photo credit: Todd Austin (ReTodd))

As mentioned in the “prologue,” (wow, this is just like “Lord of the Rings,” isn’t it?!) it was her friend who finally talked me into spending my hard-earned money on the exploitation of a fourth-grader somewhere in Africa. I asked her if it was appropriate to inquire of the (blood?) diamond vendor person how many people were wronged in the process of unearthing the worthless chunk of carbon. She was not amused. I suggested that instead of carats, diamonds should be valued in lives – like, a five-life rock would be the equivalent of 2-carats. A 500-life rock, the Hope Diamond. She was still not amused.

I was even less amused when I Googled diamonds to discover their actual, no-shit value is estimated to be, “who the fuck knows,” because DeBeers ruthlessly controls the market or something. (If you Google this you’re forced to deal with words like “fungible,” so I recommend against it.) I also learned its common practice to swap real diamonds with synthetic diamonds and no one ever knows. In my opinion, when you place value on something that’s bullshit it becomes much less important if it’s the natural bullshit or manufactured bullshit.  So again, I think diamonds should be valued by their human cost. Did three orphans die in a pit mine in Africa for the diamond?   That’s actual value.

This argument with the friend led to the following response. “Shut up, they’re pretty okay?”  It’s hard to top that really, so let’s go buy a diamond.

To justify my spending oodles of cash on a worthless (real or fake) bit of carbon, I recalled reading somewhere that the price of goods and services are reflected in what the market is willing to pay for said goods and services. In this case, my willingness to pay is dependent upon how willing I am to make this problem go away?  The “problem,” in this case, is diamond shopping. That shit is BORING.

I’m a guy, so to me bigger is better, just like my penis. I thought we’d go into the store, find the biggest diamond my wallet would allow and BAM, I’m done and guzzling beer 20 minutes later. Not so. Dagmar’s friend explained to me that a  simple band with a sizable rock looked like a “starter” ring. Something a new bride would have, I was told. I was baffled, honestly baffled.

Turns out the ring the girl gets on her wedding day likely isn’t the ring she’s wearing 20 years later. See, they’re like Pokémon cards and the ladies are trading that shit up every day. Should my wife take it in, she gets the full cost of the ring deducted from her new purchase. I asked if the reverse was true: Could she trade down and walk out with some cash? Seems this question has never been raised and I was met with blank stares.

Buying the Diamond:

This part is very short. I cried, a lot. I cried when I swiped my credit card. I cried when I signed the receipt. I cried on the way out of the store. My wife’s friend cried too, but it was from laughing ’cause she’s evil.

I planned on presenting the ring on Valentine’s Day after work because my wife leaves the house at 6:30 a.m. and I’m far too lazy to get my ass out of bed at that ungodly hour. But foiling my plan, at about 2 p.m. my internet-detective wife phones me about a large charge on the credit card. Tap dancing ensued.

Physical violence was threatened, but eventually I talked her into unloading the gun.

“Honey just trust me,” I told her. All would be okay.

Presenting the diamond:

When my wife finally pulled into the driveway that night I admit I was actually fucking nervous. The five-beer bracer I drank was helping, sure, but still I was about to violate a central tenant of our relationship. For 20 years we’ve had no use for wedding rings, and while I thought she was cool with that, deep down inside of me there was always that nagging doubt. Did she secretly want one? Were her daughter and friend correct? Fuck, this is important. If she really wants one, I need to give her the ring in an important way. Crap, I need a beer!

She came inside the house and I did the traditional rose presentation because nothing says I love you like a gift that will be dead in a week.

Then I handed her a card and a gift bag.  She read the card, removed the tissue paper from the bag, extracted the little ring box and — told me I was fucking retarded. I laughed my dick off.

I honestly don’t remember the exact conversation, but it boils down to me demanding reassurances that she doesn’t value child exploitation or meaningless symbolism, and her reassuring me that, yes, even 20-years later, she still does not approve of child exploitation or find meaning in meaningless symbols. She didn’t want or need the ring.

Epilogue:

Assorted cubic zirconias glittering in the sun

Please don’t buy real diamonds. Fake diamonds don’t hurt children and hurting children is what real diamonds are all about! (Photo credit: DanR)

Holy fuck! Returning diamonds is a pain in the ass. I concocted some half-assed funny story I could tell the clerk about proposing to the love of my life last night and being rejected. I plotted to make it more believable by asking where the razor blades were kept and if they had a do-it-yourself last will and testament kit handy. But it was the same lady who sold me the diamond.

“She didn’t want it did she,” she asked.

“Nope, we got a good laugh out of it though,” I replied.

“I had a feeling you were right all along,” she said.