Dreaming of a White Trash Christmas
Shopping for gifts under 3 bucks with the Charlie Girl.
By Jessica English
NOVEMBER 24, 1997: True, I'm known for my exquisite taste in men and fashion and all things material. But I have learned a girl's gotta be penny-smart, too. Though for years I've lavished expensive baubles and trinkets on people I care nothing about at Christmas, an experience with several credit card denials and Christmas-shopper-loathing, scissor-happy sales associates led me into the torturous world of penny-pinching. Depressed, feeling like some frumpy Mrs. Cratchet on Christmas Eve, two of my dearest gentlemen friends took me to lunch to raise my Christmas spirits. That fateful day at the all-you-can-eat buffet changed everything. Adjacent to that palace of fine dining was an Everything's 99 Cents store. Pulled by an unseen force to the safety orange starburst signs in the window that screamed: Scottish Terrier Porcelain Miniatures, 2 for 99 cents, we entered the doors. In awe, we gaped long at aisles and aisles of miscellaneous notions: racks and racks of hair doo-dads, pine cleaners, plastic frames, Q-Bert keychains, Dionne Warwick Psychic Friends Network Board Games, boxes of Cap'n Crunch printed in an unrecognizable language. We split in three directions, calling: "Come here, you have to see this!"
One-gallon tubs of hair gel in a rainbow of colors beckoned us; our favorite was the thick, globby brown stuff, like so much used motor oil from a Dodge Dart that's been ridden hard for months across the desert. This one was special because, as the label said, it contained "Real Aloe Vero." We grabbed a tub for the office bathroom; our hair's been healthier, happier, shinier ever since.
And that's when my whole life changed. I turn 180 degrees, and see, next to an overflowing bin of thin cotton, pastel granny panties, the Charlie Change Purse--a maroon snap-shut pouch made of vinyl. The gold embossed, plastic cursive nameplate that adorned the little purse read with a certain flair: Charlie (Must be spoken only in your breathiest voice while winking and pointing your fingers like a pistol, else suffer the fate of taking the name in vain).
I threw my last wadded-up dollar on the counter enthusiastically, took that Charlie Change Purse home and filled it with pennies. Since, I've been known far and wide by my gentlemen friends as "The Charlie Girl," as I wander these stores of wonder and oddity, buying gifts. So in the spirit of giving and light and love and imitation leather that's embodied in the sacred purse, I share with you my finds so that you may not go into the bargain world alone, my friends, this Christmas Eve. Charlie Girl is with you.
Welcome to my plastic bag of bargain booty, collected in only one hour at MacFrugal's, just one of my many wonderlands. (There are throngs of others, like Lot$ Off and Everything's 99 Cents.) Christmas shopping is done. Hallelujah.
In the name of the father (Charlie), the son (Charlie Jr.) and the Charlie Girl. Amen.
The New Year's Eve midnight kiss is already on the mind Christmas morn. Get on his list with a hot calendar that will remind him of you from January 1998 through April 1999. You're nearly immortal now. A 1996 McLaren with doors open wide above like a landing falcon. A silver Viper RT/10 Roadster against a night sky alive with lightning. Ooooh. No babes in this car cal. The better to picture me in it. (Psst: Guys, you can get your girl a cal with cute, fuzzy kittens or sad-eyed puppies to inspire her for a year and a third.)
Say it with a coffee mug. The cupboard is like the arc of the covenant, guarding sacred proverbs emblazoned on stained coffee mugs. They mystify, enlighten, endear. Give that charming man o' yours a piece of the poetry inside you with the "My Favorite Butthead Mug," accented with a little red heart that shows how much you really care.
I saw Elvis at MacFrugal's. And he said: "Baby, I can't wait to get out of these bagpipes and into some aftershave." I said, "Uh-huh," and bought some for my main squeeze, Charlie Ray.
Gramma Jessie, bless her heart, has photos hung on every square inch of her Wheatland, Wyo., home. This year, Gramma Jessie says: "Well, hell kertoot, if you must get me something for Christmas, just give me a picture of that little man." That is, she wants a picture of me and Charlie Ray's love child, Charlie Jr. She'll love this puzzle-piece frame.
My sister, Randi, has one of those double-truck, almond-colored, ice-making, water-pouring fridges. And a deep freezer in the garage to boot, on account of her husband Mac's big score on wild game each season. She loves magnets. This Christmas, we're sending her pictures of our extended family--Hijole, our chihuahua; Beatnik, our cat, and Jello, our goldfish--with a set of nifty paw-print deco magnets to stick to her fridge, her deep freezer or the bumper of her Gran Torino.
OK, so I'm pushing my spending limit here. But, really, this is like a Harlequin romance and designer perfume all wrapped up into one. And Mom's worth it. She's been saving tips for months to buy that CK1 (you know, the stuff that's made for a man or a woman--poor thing.) I thought it was high time to show my mother what it's like to feel like a real woman, like a Charlie Girl. Like one of those titilating paperback love stories, you get that steamy feeling from the back panel: "Romantic Illusions. Where fragrance and fantasy become one. Inside Romantic Illusions, meet eternal lovers torn from the pages of time ... inspired by fragrances that capture their spirit, their passion, their dreams. At last, your favorite fragrances, set in a world of romantic fantasy. To keep for your own or give with all your heart." This one goes out to you, mom.
Put Christ back into Christmas this year with "The Birth of Jesus Coloring Book" in all your loved ones' stockings. (Don't worry, the Second Commandment does not condemn for coloring images in his likeness.) Just say: "Jesus, I love you." There, now wasn't that easy?
With this genius idea, your big brother (who lives still at home with your mother) will feel like he's in an Adam West "Batman" show all the time. The "sound effects" hook over the adjustable snaps on a ball cap. He can express his individuality and innermost thoughts with 12 different sayings: "Huh?!," "Kablam!," Kerunch!," "AAAAAAgh," "ZZWAT!," "Pow!," "What ...!" "Kapow," "GRRR ...," "Whumpt," "Wham" or--get this--"Shrak." Omigod. That's totally how I feel. It's like a bumper sticker for your head and so much better than a "Kick Me" sign. (Keep looking for new, exciting series.) Remember, onamatopeia promotes inner peace. Let it out.
Embellish on the relish tray of any holiday host or hostess with this set of pickle-grabbin', olive-pickin', vienna sausage-fishin' forks. A candy cane, a Christmas tree, Santy Claus and the Nutcracker are handles of these cutesy little serving implements. The hostess with the mostess will think you're even more. (Do I really need to tell you that, indeed, you are?)
It looks like bear fur; it feels like a bathroom throw rug. But do not be alarmed: No animals were harmed in the production of this headband. Feel a little bit ski bunny, a little bit rock 'n' roll in this pair of ear muffs gone horribly wrong. Bond with the divorcee next door; spread Christmas cheer to her with the gift of a furry headband, sexy in its own caveman sort of way.
Ambient music for your mother-in-law's post-roast-beast feast. Featuring "Part 1 of The Spank" plus "Superbad, Superslide" and the ultimate holiday anthem: "For Goodness Sakes, Look at Those Cakes." Plus, enough "Owwww" to last the whole year through.
Girlfriend, I know what you mean. Her package says--and we girls just need to hear it when gel with "aloe vero" isn't enough--"But tomorrow will be better." Includes doll, hat, comb and brush. That little girl who looks up to you will be inspired by your strength, knowing everything will be OK; everybody has a bad hair day.
Move over, Barbie, now there's somethin' meatier. Tracey Troll was made for kickin' Barbie's ass, and that's just what she'll do in this sleek, side-slit evening gown with rhinestone ornaments and pink feather boa. Oh, and that purple buffont do; that toothless smile; those big, brown, complying eyes.
Rule No. 1: Cheap, ugly scorpions make little boys happy. (I'm good at this, ya know.)
Rule No. 2: Things that go vroom make little boys happy. Two racecars, two motorcycles. (Damn, I'm good.)
Red and green Silly Putty, inside the egg and out. How festive, how thoughtful, how utterly genius.
Rule No. 3: "The Real Liquid Solid"® makes everybody happy. (We made it once in chemistry class; it was cool.)
In last year's Gift Guide, Weekly Alibi published "Toy Gory," a story about the new toys on the market. I was so endeared with the Gooey Louie nose-pickin' game, I've not been able to shake it from my head. I lay awake each night, thinking: "Why didn't I invent it? Why not me? Why? Why? Why?" Crushed, I've found my only relief in other forms of this booger fascination. Namely, picking my nose in the car and in the game's two other incarnations: the Gooey Louie Squirter (Aiyee! That's a bang-up time!) and the Gooey Louie Gooey Maker. So happy was I that I could share my fascination with little Charlie Jr. when I found the Gooey Louie Gooey Maker for under $3 at MacFrugal's. This is a one-man game: Load Louie up with gooeys (which look exactly like Taco Bell green chile, container and all) and "Press His Brains for Action You Won't Believe!" More fun than looking in your own Kleenex after blowing. A legacy continues ... .
Who cares? He's a dork. Put your picture in the Where's Waldo Picture Frame. Give it to your nephew. Break the news to him gently: "Waldo's not in the picture, honey. There's no such thing as Waldo." Christmas, 20 years later, send your nephew a box of chocolates in the state mental hospital.
Corkscrew & Nutcracker Set, $1
One more gift ... it's 11 o'clock. Grab this red corkscrew and nutcracker set--naughty in a Freudian word-play kinda way, nice in a 'tis the season kinda way--and head on down to the nearest liquor store (open until midnight). Anything under $3 would not need a corkscrew to open, and that ruins the whole thing. So splurge. Soon there will be 365 shopping days left until Christmas. Run, Rudolf, run. Your best bet is to go to the nearest grocery store. Grab a $6 bottle of Corbett Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon (OK, I don't know squat about wine; I just like the shape of the bottle). Grab yourself some Southern Comfort; you're worth it. Scoop up a pound of mixed nuts. Throw the nuts in a Butthead Mug, or a gawdy, gold spray-painted bowl or plastic Santa-shaped tray--whatever you have from our shopping extravaganza--and tie a red ribbon on each. Get drunk. Wait up for Santa. Eat his milk and cookies ... fat bastard's always late.
You are done. You only spent about 30 bucks on the whole shebang. Remember, every good deed you do comes back to you sevenfold. And Charlie Girl's been so very, very good. You have kept the spirit of Christmas alive again this year, my frugal friend. Now, doesn't that make you feel good? Doesn't that make you feel a little bit Charlie?
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