Monday, December 21, 2009

The Elves and the Shoe-taker: A Christmas Shopping Story

I hate shopping. I understand some people look upon it as a form of recreation, but I've never been able to see it in that light. The only problem is that Mr. Beazly hates shopping even more, and so each Christmas I give him the gift of not having to shop for his own clothing for another year. Naturally this means I sometimes have to buy him footwear.

In the old days, when he used to buy his own footwear, we once had an amazing experience at a certain department store I'll call "Zellers". Mr. Beazly foolishly took off his shoes in order to try on some new ones, and then made the second mistake of leaving his shoes unattended while he stepped into the next aisle to find another pair to try. When we came back, Mr. B.'s shoes were gone. There was no one else in the department except a clerk, but she certainly hadn't taken them! She did hint, however, that thieves were always stealing shoes and leaving their old ones behind in the box. "So if someone thought that was what happened," the clerk concluded, "Those shoes would be thrown away."

"Where would they be thrown to?" Mr. B. wanted to know, but the clerk had already said too much.
"They're gone," she said firmly, and that was all she knew.

Now, Mr. B. is a pretty smart guy. He knows that matter is not created or destroyed, and that passages to other dimensions are rarely found in the Zellers shoe department. So those shoes had to be somewhere. A little more insistence, and the clerk finally revealed that, in the unlikely event that someone totally unknown to her had picked up the shoes and thrown them away, they might be on the lower level of the store.  A little more cajoling, and she was even talked into phoning down to the lower level of the store to see if, by some absurd chance, the shoes were there. At this point it was her turn to make a fatal mistake. By carefully listening to her encoded conversation we deduced what had occurred. I will reproduce in full the cunning and enigmatic phraseology she used when speaking with her colleague, and, if necessary, decipher it for you:


Perhaps she should have used more of a stage whisper; she was certainly still playing dumb when she got off the phone and realized how close we'd been standing. The usually mild-mannered Mr. B. said, somewhat incredulously, "So it WAS you!"

"No, it wasn't," she answered stubbornly.  Hmmm, a store where your property is confiscated and then you are lied to about what has been done with it. Is Zellers now an arm of the Federal Circumlocution Office?

So, we got the shoes back. They had not been sucked into another dimension or converted into anti-matter. They had not even been tossed into an idling garbage truck which peeled rubber for the city dump the second it had a payload of one abandoned pair of shoes. They were sitting in a bin behind the cash register on the main floor of the store, and we never shopped for shoes at Zellers again. The moral of this story is: it actually had nothing to do with elves.

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