Friday, December 24, 2021

A Christmas Story

One of the podcasts I follow is “Stuff to Blow Your Mind,” from hosts Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick. This year for their annual Christmas episode they chose the topic “A Major Award: The Ancient and Occult History of the ‘A Christmas Story’ Leg Lamp.” It turned to be a fascinating jaunt through the history of Greco-Roman votive lamps in the shape of godly feet. (The wick came out a hole in the lamp’s ceramic big toe.) 

Robert and Joe opened the episode with a loving introduction to the classic 1983 movie “A Christmas Story,” obviously a primal cultural artifact for other Generation X nerds. Yesterday I shared with Facebook friends this year’s “A Christmas Story” episode of Gay Sitcom Dad: 


We're enjoying a quiet family Christmas break at home in Bellingham. After a long hard 2021, the kids were disappointed to miss out on travel this year. We're grateful their stepfather made sure each kid had a great Christmas. 


It looked like Oliver would miss out – earlier this year Brenden promised him the long-awaited new Xbox, but global supply chain problems continue to curse the Leishmans. Fortunately, after several close calls, last night Oliver heard of a rumored Xbox drop in a Lynnwood strip mall this morning. So we got up at 5:30, drove south on I-5, waited in line at GameStop, and came home to bliss out over the True Meaning of Christmas.


After I posted on Facebook yesterday about Oliver receiving his Best Christmas Present Ever, a friend texted to ask “Did Brenden drive to Lynnwood, too?” 


Are you kidding? The whole point of being a fabulous gay uncle is you get to give amazing presents then sleep in. Once upon a time I was a fabulous guncle myself. Before parenthood squeezed all the fabulosity out of me.

Yesterday at 10 am, the GameStop doors opened to the happy customer five places in line ahead of Oliver and me. 

Here is a picture I took at 10 am of the line behind us in Lynnwood-adjacent Martha’s Lake, across the parking lot from Walmart: 

You see that green car below the Walmart sign? That’s the car I drove to GameStop yesterday with Oliver. 


Why is a strange man kneeling next to Papa’s jacked-up car in front of all the slightly less savvy Xbox enthusiasts? It turns out he’s the real reason my trip to GameStop this week will be “A Christmas Story.”

Oliver’s Xbox “drop” intel was excellent. There’s a reason he’s the Leishman child you’d pick for the Zombie Apocalypse. After Oliver received an indirect Instagram rumor about a round of upcoming GameStop Xbox deliveries, Oliver and Brenden stopped by the Bellingham GameStop to chat with the nerds. Their dude zeroed in on the Martha’s Lake store as a low-traffic location in the boonies that was receiving 40 units. He suggested we arrive by 7:00 am for the 10 am store opening. 


A 7:00 am line-waiting challenge is child’s play. In October, Eleanor and I had to leave the house at 4:20 am to get to the Tacoma Dome in time to stand in line all day for “Pit” tickets to the Harry Styles concert. Yesterday Oliver got to sleep in till 6 am and was home by noon, including our stop at the Jamba Juice in Alderwood Mall.


We arrived in the Walmart parking lot at 6:50 and parked in front of GameStop. We were the third car. It was cold. Fortunately there was a Starbucks across the parking lot. We sat in the car with our Americano and Peppermint Mocha until 8:30. The four stalwarts ahead of us in line all brought camp chairs.  


Around 9 am I noticed I had a flat tire. I called the AAA Roadside Service toll-free number for the first time since Covid. They suggested I download the app instead. If I insisted on talking to a person, the wait would be 15 minutes. But I was free to hang up and wait for them to call back in 15 minutes.


At 9:15 am the nice lady called and took down my information. She told me the expected arrival time was listed as 11:05 am, but it probably would be sooner. At 9:45 am I got a text saying the truck would arrive at 10:15. Instead it arrived early, just as Oliver and I were about to walk into GameStop and claim our Xbox. 

The repair man found a shiny screw embedded in the tire. My spare tire had been sitting in the car so long it was empty. The repair guy didn't have any compressed air on his truck, so he told me to drive across the street and use the air pump at the gas station. The repair guy also tried to upsell me into going to a nearby Firestone dealer for a fix, and said he wouldn’t drive a brand new Xbox all the way to Bellingham on that dusty old spare tire. But my dad said wed be fine.


Back in Bellingham I dropped the flat tire at Les Schwab for a complimentary repair, then picked the tire up the next day on my Christmas Eve errand run as we prepared for tonight’s arctic blast. We can expect anywhere from 1 to 8 inches of snow overnight. A rare white Christmas in the Pacific Northwest. 


Tomorrow morning I’ll let my children sleep in before opening presents, savor the last box of Trader Joe’s peppermint creams, and make them watch “A Christmas Story” on a loop. Then if we want to drive across town for Christmas dinner at Grandma’s this year, my children get to go outside in the snow and change the tire with The Old Man.

After regaling us with tales of the limb-shaped lamps of antiquity, the hosts of “Stuff To Blow Your Mind” said their “A Christmas Story” podcast episode next year will probably be about Soap Poisoning. Mine too.   

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