Huh…what? I was awakened from a sound sleep. It was Christmas Eve, and my clock radio said 11:59 PM.
“Who is it?” I cried. Whoever it was, he sounded Jamaican.
“It’s de ghost of Bob Marley. I was sent to warn you. You be visited by three spirits tonight….”
My head cleared enough to assess the situation—a cheap takeoff of A Christmas Carol. Had I sunk so low as a writer?
Still, I wondered: “Shouldn’t you be Jacob Marley?”
“Computah mixup, sistah,” the apparition replied. “Dey sent him to Reggae Sunsplash. We tried to get you Elvis instead, but he had a SuperAmerica gig.”
“What’s with the silver dreadlocks?” I asked.
“Wardrobe was out of chains,” he said. “Expect de first ghost at the stroke of 1 AM.”
He disappeared, and I set my cock radio for 1. I went back to sleep, grumbling about the demise of modern satire.
Just as my radio started to play The Captain and Tenille’s “Muskrat Love” (talk about The Nightmare Before Christmas), the next spirit appeared.
I sat up: “Elizabeth Montgomery, Samantha from Bewitched: You’re the Ghost of Christmas Past?” She was my only big girl crush—nobody filled out a pair of Capri pants like Samantha.
“Yes, sweetheart,” she cooed. “You need some plot development, quick. Where’s your old VCR?”
“Aren’t you going to take my hand, and fly me around town?” I asked.
“Honey, we don’t have time. This is a 850-word column, the first ghost just got here, and we’re already on word 293—you do the math,” she instructed. “Now, eject Buns of Steel, and put in this tape.”
There I was, me as a kid.
“Geez,” I said, “what a nerd!”
“Every year, your parents scrimped and saved, and bought you exactly what you wanted. That Pocahontas pinball machine, an accordion, a hi-fi…” her voice trailed off.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “My mom was always playing Eddie Arnold Sings with the Norman Luboff Choir. How embarrassing.”
“The point is, Julie, they had the Christmas spirit. They spent every dime they had to make you happy,” she said.
“Oh, I get it,” I nodded. “This is about that computer my nephew has been needling me about, isn’t it? Well, it’s just too much money!”
She wiggled her nose, a sudden gust of wind knocked over my Josh Groban Advent Calendar, and she was gone. What a lady!
I decided to channel-surf, looking for the All It’s a Wonderful Life Channel, forgetting for a moment that NBC had bought exclusive rights to the movie, thus ruining this joke. Just as the VCR’s digital clock hit 2, the next spirit arrived.
“Why, its John Banner, Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes,” I shouted. “What a great Ghost of Christmas Present! You were the best!”
I took his coat, and gave my best impersonation: “I see nothing, no-thinnnggg!”
He rolled his eyes: “Ya, sure. Ha, ha. Listen, we’re on word 605….” He put in his tape.
“OK,” I said. “Christmas dinner. My brother’s house, and the camera is on…my nephew, moping because he didn’t get a computer. Come on, he’ll get over it!”
“If zese signs remain unchanged by der future, I see an empty chair in der corner, by der central heating unit,” Schultz tried to explain.
“He’s gonna die because he didn’t get a computer?” I asked.
“Nein, he’s in der bathroom,” Schultz said. “But I do see him 20 years from now, telling his psychoanalyst about zis. Listen, I gotta go.”
“Wait!” I pleaded. “Tell me, who’s my Ghost of Christmas Future? Boris Karloff? Charles Laughton?”
“Der ghosts are kind of a ’60s television theme,” Schultz informed. “Der ghost of Christmas Future doesn’t talk, so ve vere tinking Arnold, der pig from Green Acres.”
“Forget it,” I muttered. “I’ll go buy the damn computer now.”
“Don’t forget der Ghost of Christmas Plastic,” he said as he faded.
Later, trudging back from the store, I felt suddenly light as a feather, as though a great weight had been lifted from my savings account. I put the computer on my living room floor, plugged it in, swept up the shrapnel, and dialed tech support.
Well, consider the source, and God bless us, every one.
Bye for now.