Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Cranky Claus is Comin' to Town

Like it? 
It's that most magical time of year again, when you wish the most magical time of year was over. Between rushing out to the mall, making sure your Christmas gifts delivered on time, and writing something personal but nonspecific on a grand total of 67 stupid Christmas cards this year, you're in that grouchy holiday mood.

You've had a visit from Cranky Claus!

You know who Cranky Claus is, don't you? He's that jolly old elf who makes the holiday season irritating! You don't remember the old children's poem, "A Visit from St. Crankus"?

His eyes were all bleary,
His nose red from drinkin'!
His cheeks, badly shaven;
His boots, they were stinkin'!


Doesn't ring a bell?

For those who aren't familiar with Cranky Claus, he wears a big red suit that's too small in the armpits and waist, and he's allergic to the red dye or something, because it always gives him a rash. He lives in a great big castle at the South Pole -- and don't think it isn't a pain to get all the way up here from there, with the traffic.

Mrs. Cranky Claus used to live down there with him until they got divorced and she took the Buick.

Cranky Claus has a fantastic workshop where hundreds of cute little elves work all year round, busily making gift certificates and bouquets of old flowers and boxes of Russell Stover chocolates, making sure to leave the price tag on -- and every year before Christmas, Cranky travels the world in a sleigh pulled by four and a half magical flying moose. Then Cranky stocks gas stations everywhere full of great last-minute gifts.

But that's not all Cranky does! Cranky Claus also visits each and every one of us for about two or three weeks before Christmas, planting the spirit of Yuletide irritability in all our hearts. In the teary eyes of every shrieking brat at an
overcrowded toy store, in the fine print of every exorbitant heating bill, in every old lady who cuts you off in traffic -- that's where you'll find the magic of Cranky Claus.

Perhaps a montage of short scenes would say it best:

--

SCENE: A typical Fall River home decorated for Christmas -- a huge tree in the front parlor, the good plastic on the couch, stockings hung by the space heater with care. Suddenly, there arises such a clatter! The space heater opens and out pops an overweight, scraggly elf. You can't tell this in print, but he reeks of menthol cigarettes.

CRANKY CLAUS. Ugh, my back...

(He stumps over to the Christmas tree. He touches one of the branches briefly, then crawls back into to the space heater -- just as Wayne enters the room.)

WAYNE. (inhaling) Boy! No substitute for that real-tree smell!

(All the needles immediately turn brown and drop to the floor.)

WAYNE. Oh, man...

CRANKY CLAUS. (his voice echoing through the pipes) Haw haw haw! Merrrrry Christmas!

--

SCENE: Wal-Mart. Wayne is waving a flyer in the face of a teenage cash register jockey while a Cabbage Patch Kid sits on the counter. A long line of disgruntled shoppers waits behind him.

WAYNE. But the flyer distinctly says the doll is half-price.

CASHIER. Flurgurbong.

WAYNE. (puzzled) Uh ... excuse me?

CASHIER. Flyer's wrong.

WAYNE. No, it says right here -- half price.

CASHIER. (reading flyer) "With purchase of Cabbage Patch DVD." Right there in the little print.

RANDOM SHOPPER. Just pay full price, ya cheapskate!

WAYNE. Then I'll take a Cabbage Patch DVD. If I don't get this, my kid will hate Christmas forever.

CASHIER. Numflistrulf.

WAYNE. (irritated) Excuse me?

CASHIER. Ain't in stock, like I said.

WAYNE. (sighing) Can I speak to the manager, please?

(Cashier waves somebody over -- it's Cranky Claus.)

WAYNE. Can you help me out?

CRANKY CLAUS. (thinks about it for a solid minute) No.

(There is a long pause, filled with the whines of bored children.)

CRANKY CLAUS. Haw haw haw! Merrrrrry Christmas!

--

SCENE: Wayne's kitchen. He's writing out Christmas cards while a Christmas goose roasts in the oven. His wife, Mildred, talks on the phone.

MILDRED. No, no, no -- it's no problem at all. We'll see you then.

(She hangs up the phone. Meanwhile, Cranky Claus emerges from a closet and sneaks over to the stove, where he casually turns up the heat.)

WAYNE. Who was that on the phone?

MILDRED. My mother. She's coming over for Christmas.

(A long pause.)

MILDRED. And she's staying with us until March.

WAYNE. Old bag...

(Mildred gives him the old hairy eyeball. Thick smoke begins to pour from the stove.)

WAYNE. I mean ... swell.

(Their daughter Brunhilda enters, tearing wrapping paper off the Cabbage Patch Doll.)

WAYNE. Broonie, that was supposed to be a surprise for Christmas! How did you find that?

BRUNHILDA. (bawling at the doll) But I awready got this one!

CRANKY CLAUS. Haw haw haw! Merrrrrry Christmas!

--

SCENE: Wayne's driveway. A beautiful blanket of pure white snow covers everything with a glorious Christmassy glow. Wayne, huffing and puffing, leans on a shovel and warms his hands. He's just shoveled out his driveway.

(There's a red and green snowplow heading his way. At the wheel: Cranky Claus.)

CRANKY CLAUS. Vroom vroom!

(A load of filthy snow pours around Wayne's boots, sliding messily into his driveway. He turns purple and flings his shovel away.)

WAYNE. @#$%!

(He turns around to see Brunhilda, stuck up to her scarf in snow with the doll.)

BRUNHILDA. You said bad words.

CRANKY CLAUS. (toots his horn and waves) Merrrrrry Christmas!
Haw haw haw!

--

Remember: the next time the holidays got you down, thank Cranky Claus for spreading some Yuletide aggravation. And be sure to leave him a plate of bologna sandwiches and a cup of Sanka. It's Cranky's favorite.

Sing it all together!

He sees you when you're grouchy,
He knows when you're ticked off!
He knows that this crummy weather
Will give you a nasty cough!
So!
You better watch out, better not smile!
Better not go to the mall for a little while!
Cranky Claus is comin' to town...

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