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6:26 p.m. - 2002-12-15

THE HOLY GRAIL IS SAFE IN MY GARAGE

My quest is complete.

I feel like spouting off crap you'd hear in that new movie "Lord of the Twin Towers" or whatever the fuck that elf shit is called.

"O master. I have travelled across this redneck state of ours to have your precious Imagine Sounds Playhouse bestowed upon me with the grace of Gandhar, the Magical Elf with a speech impediment and a slight limp. Please. Touch my shoulders with a sword or something and let me look all solemn and shit like it actually means something other than a bearded old drunk is almost lopping my arm off."

Yes...Andrew gets his playhouse. Christmas will now be complete and commercialized and filled with good cheer and loud squeals.

This wasn't an easy task, o Lord of all things Diaryland.

After receiving the email from Trinity that she had called a store that's 140 miles from me and they were reserving a playhouse for me, I had to take a gamble.

Did I want to drive all that way for a playhouse when I had our local Toys 'R' Us committed to finding me a playhouse?

Nope. Not really.

But after dealing with the local store for the last few days and realizing that these people have the brain capacity of your average lobotomy patient, I told the wife of my plan.

"Are you fucking nuts?" she asked. "He's only TWO. He won't know if he didn't get a playhouse or not. He's got enough toys already."

"But those are yarrrrrd saaaaaaale toyyyyyyys," I said, as if I was cheapening their value. "I want him to have one brand new toy to play with and have it be the most special toy he'll ever remember."

"That's my POINT," she snapped. "He will NOT remember this Christmas."

"Even if I videotape it?" I asked. "I would think if we went to the video, it'd jar his little memory."

"Whatever," she said. "Do whatever."

"Thanks," I cheerily said. "I'm leaving first thing in the morning."

"You're spoiling that child. You know that, don't you?"

"Yes, I'm well aware that I'm spoiling him," I said. "But it's a damned good chance he'll be the only child I'll ever know and at my age, I only have a limited time on Earth with him and I want to make it the best I possibly can."

She couldn't say SHIT to that.

BOOOO-YAHHHHH, MISSY!!!

IN!

YOUR!

FACE!!


So I left here at 7 a.m. yesterday with the plan that I would stop at every Walmart, Target and Toys 'r' Us in between here and my destination in hopes that I would find the Holy Grail and my quest could end a bit early.

My first stop...the Walmart in Prattville, Alabama.

No playhouse. But I saw a guy wearing a Bubba Claus hat. The back of the hat looked like Santa's stocking cap with a white ball on the end.

The front of the hat looked like a beat up baseball cap. I found his hat unique, amusing and slightly scary.

I drove another 20 minutes until I reached Clanton, Alabama.

Or as it's known to the outside world, the Mullet Capital of the World.

Jesus God...everyone in Walmart had a mullet. Even the elderly black female greeter...mullet.

No playhouse. I wanted to make sure, so I asked this employee with a mullet and a vest on.

"Do you have any Little Tikes Playhouses for sale?" I asked.

"I dunno," she said. "You'd have to ask Margaret. That's her department."

Then...and I swear to God this is true...the woman starts hollering "MARGARET!! MARGARET!! MARGARET!!"

She starts walking down the main aisle, hollering this woman's name. Meanwhile, I'm keeping up the pace with her, but from a safe distance so I just look like a bewildered customer from out of town, hence the lack of mullet on my head.

After about a minute of her primitive attempt at a PA system, she says "I don't know where Margaret's at."

I nervously said that was okay and I didn't see any so they must be out and thank you for your time and I'll see myself out now, no need to scream "GOODBYE!" at me.

Next stop ... Birmingham, Alabama.

I stopped at their Toys 'R' Us (no playhouse), their Target Superstore (no playhouse) and two more Walmarts (no playhouses, very few mullets).

I then got on the road and continued on my quest.

I reached Tuscaloosa three hours after I had left home. Tuscaloosa is the home of the University of Alabama where Bear Bryant coached a football team for twenty some-odd years and they decided that he was some sort of God because the team rarely lost in those 20 years.

Personally, I think the dead bastard was a butt-fucker, but that's my own personal opinion and goes against the grain of every other person's opinion in Tuscaloosa.

I track down the Toys 'R' Us there with little trouble after finding directions on the web.

I enter the store and head immediately for the service desk. I don't feel like browsing or trying to find the playhouse on my own. They're holding one for me. Screw browsing.

The girl at the counter is confused, knows nothing about them holding something for me and gets on the phone to the back.

"You from Montgomery?" she says.

"Yes!" I say, as if I've been recognized and confirmed. "I've driven all the way from Montgomery for this playhouse!"

She hangs up the phone and says they're bringing it up front.

She rings me up and it's a hundred dollars cheaper than what I was expecting to pay.

I don't even flinch.

I told her there was some sort of mistake. The playhouse I wanted was $250. She was trying to charge me $150.

She thanked me for my honesty (DAMNED HONESTY!!) and rang me up correctly.

They brought this box from hell up front and sure enough...it's what I wanted.

To top it off ... they threw in a free Little Tikes Picnic Table on the house...a $40 value.

I felt all special and shit until they told me that was the deal they were running...buy a playhouse...get a picnic table.

Oh.

Well burst my bubble, you cranky fucks.

I was feeling special there for a millisecond.

I had some apprehension about getting the box in the van. I asked one of the guys if he could help me.

He asked if I was going to chloroform him, kidnap him and take him to the woods to buttfuck him like Bear Bryant used to do when he was alive.

I promised that I wouldn't.

Besides...he wasn't my type.

I usually liked them younger than him.

He carries the box out and we begin trying to stuff it into the van.

It ain't gettin' in. It's like Andre the Giant trying to bone Dr. Ruth ... it ain't gettin' in.

Einstein suggests that we move one of the van seats.

Duh, fucker. That's what I'm about to do.

I move one of the seats and put it awkwardly on top of the front seat.

It's in now.

I thank him for his general ineptitude and crank the van up.

The clouds part.

The "Hallelujah" chorus begins.

And I trek home, driving 140 miles in less than two hours.

Now, I just have to fight the urge to have an "Early Christmas" for the next ten days.

I dare say, I'm the most excited member of this family for Christmas morning.

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