Why it's a bad time of the year for your postman.

There are so many catalogs arriving in my mailbox every day that my postman has been wearing his truss. They started coming the day after Halloween. I used to wonder when Christmas had turned into Ramadan. Now we’d be lucky if the season only lasted a month.  

It seems to me that when I was a kid there were two catalogs and they came once a year. You were either Sears and Roebuck people or Montgomery Ward people, so there was only one catalog in each home. Around Christmas time the Sears kids--whatever happened to Mr. Roebuck?--would check out our “Monky Wards” catalog when they came over to play. My mom called it the wish book and it held the inspiration for our letters to Santa. We spent hours pouring over the toy section, changing our minds about a million times, since, in those days kids didn’t get everything they wanted.

These days my Christmas catalog is J.C. Penney. Every item on the first 19 pages requires an energy source. I was twelve before I got my first Christmas gift that needed batteries. Now they have video games, computers, and cam corders for pre-schoolers. No wonder we have global warming. 

I got a catalog the other day called Things You Never Knew Existed. It has such wondrous things. For $39.98 you can buy a remote controlled skunk. “Just like the real thing--minus the spray, of course.” I’m sorry but if I were to spend that kind of money on a practical joke I’d want the real deal.

Want to look like a he-man at the gym but keep your day job? For $12.98 you can purchase flesh toned full-length fake tattoo sleeves. Black and white or color.

Yes, this catalog has something for everyone on your holiday giving list. All those hard to shop for relatives. Along with the rubber chickens, imitation vomit, fake snot, itching powder and bullet hole decals they have an electronic watch dog for only $99.98. This is a motion sensored recording of a dog barking. Perfect for your Uncle Joe who has all those allergies.

Here’s something I wish I had been able to get my hands on when my daughter was in school and I had to drag her--kicking and screaming--out of bed each weekday morning. A flying alarm clock. At the set time it launches a propeller which flies around the room. The alarm continues to ring until you get out of bed, find the propeller and return it to the clock. Speaking of clocks, for the person on your list that is time challenged they have one that only has the days of the week on the face. I supposed it would be okay if you’re retired. At least you’d know when to go to church.

The book section was interesting. There was a pop up bra book for your precocious nephew and a ketchup cook book that would be perfect for a new bride who was raised on french fries. White Trash Etiquette: The Definitive Guide to Upscale Trailer Park Manners piqued my interest. It included information on how late in the evening you can politely call your bail bondsman.  I have a daughter who has trouble swallowing her anger. I bought a copy of The Book of Yiddish Insults and Curses for her. If she can learn to say them calmly with a smile on her face it could go a long way to restoring her mental health.

Some of these items make me happy I don’t have the kind of relatives and friends who would like to receive them. I don’t know anyone who would enjoy getting an electronic yodeling pickle. I shudder to think what it would be like to live with a child who requested a terrarium with ten plants that trap, drown, starve or paralyze insects for their dinner. Or a roll of crime tape. Or a worm observatory. There’s a radio controlled fart machine for $14.98. If you buy two they’re only $12.98 each. I don’t think I’d care to know the person who would find this an incredible bargain.

I admit it. I’ve always been sophomoric enough to enjoy bathroom humor. $16.98 will buy you a farting gnome but a farting Santa only costs $12.98. The Santa just farts but the gnome says things like, “Did someone step on a duck?” Worth the extra four bucks don’t you think? Of course I’m sure that the engraved toilet paper and toilet shaped dog dish are gag gifts. My personal favorite is the George W. Bush toilet brush. I’m sure it’s a gag gift. Isn’t it? I’ve also been musing about what I’d record on the talking toilet paper holder. “Don’t forget to flush,” comes to mind. Or how about, “The room freshener is under the sink.”

Got a kid who rebels at bath time? Buy him a bar of money soap. Guaranteed to have anything from a one to fifty dollar bill inside. Don’t get more than one, however. When the kid uses it up and realizes he only got a buck--you didn’t think it would be more did you?--he won’t bathe again for a month.

I got a catalog today that bills itself as The Most Important Gift Catalog In The World. It’s from Heifer International and encourages you to buy animals for poverty stricken people the world over. Now it’s not that I think the concept is funny but I had to laugh at some of the captions under the pictures. There was one picture of a little boy holding a Guinea Pig and the caption read “Two trios of Guinea Pigs will help a family in Ecuador add protein to their diets.” I wouldn’t want to be the person who tells the kid what’s for supper.

For $1000 you can purchase a “Milk Menagerie” which consists of a cow, two goats and a water buffalo. I’m sure they’d let you know if your impoverished family was lactose intolerant. The catalog recommends sending a pig to Honduras where they will eat rejected bananas and damaged yams. I can’t help wondering just how hungry humans have to be before they consider eating a damaged yam. And suppose the family doesn’t care for pork either? 

It’s not just catalogs that are filled with unusual gifts this time of year. I was in a Wal-Mart the other day and they had a pre wrapped ‘pig on a motorcycle’ cookie jar. Now I don’t know about you but if I had to stare down a pig every time I wanted a cookie it might improve my diet, though I’m not sure it would work for everyone. I’ve seen pig faces you can mount on your refrigerator that oink when you open the door. Do people really think they can buy will power? If only.

Paging through these catalogs amuses me no end. The one that I enjoy the most, however, is filled with beautiful and expensive jewelry. Now I have to ask. Do you know anyone who would spend $1200 on mail order diamonds?

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