Last Minute Shopping

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Scene: A Walmart Store just outside Bethlehem in the year zero CE

Clerk  – Ah, good morning and welcome to Walmart. I’m sorry, sir, but the camel will have to wait outside.

Balthasar – It’s not a camel. It’s a dromedary.

Clerk  – Bullsh–, I mean, I don’t care what you call it, Bright-eyes. It’s a camel and he stays outside. Read the sign “All horses, camels, donkeys, asses, llamas, burros, mules and goats, must remain outside.”

Balthasar  – It only has one hump. It’s a dromedary.

Clerk  – I don’t care how many humps it has. If it looks like a camel, acts like a camel and smells like a camel. It’s a camel.

Balthasar – But it’s a…

Clerk  – Are you stupid or something?  The damn dromedary waits outside.  We can’t have camel poop all over the store.

Balthasar  – But it’s not a…

Clerk  – Outside!

Jhalmal  – What about the elephant?

Clerk  – Do you see elephants on the sign?  Elephants are OK. Now, how may I help you?

Jhalmal  – We would like to buy a little gift.

Clerk  – I see, something for the missus, perhaps?

Melchior  – We’re not married.

Clerk  – Why am I not surprised?  What kind of gift are you looking for?

Balthasar  – A child’s birthday gift.

Clerk  – A birthday gift. Very good, now, when is the little tyke’s celebrating his birthday?

Jhalmal  – We don’t know.

Clerk  – You don’t know. You are buying a birthday gift for the child and you don’t even know when the kid’s birthday is?

Melchior  – We don’t even know if it’s a boy. It might be a girl?

Clerk  – Now let me get this straight. You are buying a birthday gift for a child. You don’t know when the birthday is. Now you tell me you don’t know if it is a girl or a boy.

Jhalmal  – Yes.

Clerk  – You guys aren’t exactly the sharpest arrows in the quiver. Well, we can try the newspaper. I have a few copies of the Bethlehem Bugle here. Would you like to browse through the Family section and see if you can find the little person’s birth announcement?

Melchior  – We wouldn’t know who to look for.

Clerk  – You boys are foreigners aren’t you?

Balthasar  – How did you guess?

Clerk  – Well for one thing you’re eating a pork sandwich and you’re in the middle of Palestine. Oh no – the elephant! Maintenance; major spill on aisle 9. Bring a shovel. Better add elephants to the sign. Let’s just move upwind a few feet. Sometimes the family registers with our baby department. What is the mother’s name?

Jhalmal  – We don’t have a clue.

Clerk  – I believe that. What’s the father’s name then?

Balthasar – Jehovah. It’s a virgin birth.

Clerk  – That’s what my daughter told me too. There’s a lot of that going around. Do you know where they live?

Jhalmal  – I think we’ll find them under a star.

Clerk  – Under a star? Like in a Texaco station or something?

Jhalmal  – We have no idea. We’ve been following this star for months and the prophecies say they are under it.

Clerk  – You boys been drinking?

Melchior  – Just a little fermented goat’s milk to ward off the chill. You see, we were studying the sky and we saw this big star, so we loaded up the camel and…

Balthasar  – It’s a dromedary. It only has one hump.

Melchior  – Yeah, we loaded up the dromedary and…

Jhalmal  – And the elephant.

Melchior   – And the elephant, and we followed it all the way here.

Clerk  – The elephant?

Balthasar  – No, the star.

Clerk  – Wait a minute, let me get this straight. You three clowns have been following a star all the way from Yahweh knows where, looking for a birthday party?

Jhalmal  – Yep, that’s about the size of it.

Clerk  – Are you out on a day pass or something? Who are you anyway?

Melchior  – We are the three wise men.

Clerk  – You could have fooled me. Well, let’s see. You need a gift but you aren’t really sure of whether you are buying for a boy or a girl. A crib is always nice, or a bassinet. If they travel a lot, we have a special on safety seats for the little one. It straps right over the donkey’s bum. It’s been crashed tested up to 80 miles an hour. They really should have one. The Pharisees are cracking down this time of year. And by the way boys, be careful of your drinking. The Romans make you blow into a goatskin and if the milk curdles it’s twenty years in the galleys. But a gift? How about a year’s diaper service.

Balthasar  – What’s that?

Clerk – Once a week, a lady comes by the hovel and takes all the diapers down to the town well and beats the #$@!, I mean, washes them.

Balthasar  – Don’t you have something a little more personal?

Clerk  – How about a toaster or a fondue pot?

Balthasar  – I was thinking more along the lines of a bag of gold.

Clerk  – Gold is always acceptable and it goes with just about anything. What kind of money are you planning on spending?

Balthasar  – I’m not sure, but I thought around $2.00.

Clerk – Two bucks? Wonderful, Mr. Rockefeller, I’ll dig out one of my fillings. And what about you, sport?

Melchior  – Do you have any frankincense?

Clerk  – Yes, we do. As a matter of fact, it’s on special for the high holy days. How much do you want?

Melchior  – I don’t know. What is it?

Clerk  – Like, what price is it?

Melchior  – No, what is it?

Clerk  – It’s sort of a designer perfume. It comes in a little atomizer, $120.00 an ounce.

Melchior  – That’s a little steep, I’ll have two sniffs.

Clerk – Two sniffs, a good choice, Bill. Say hello to Mrs. Gates for me. What about you, Buster Brown?

Jhalmal  – I’ll have two pounds of myrrh.

Clerk  – Domestic or imported?

Jhalmal  – Domestic, we don’t even know the kid.

Clerk  – Ok, that’s two bucks worth of gold, two sniffs of frankincense and two pounds of myrrh. Will there be anything else?

Jhalmal  – A birthday card, something tasteful.

Clerk  – Did you have anything in mind?

Jhalmal  – Roses are red always goes over big in Sumaria.

Clerk  – OK. That’s 2 dollars for the gold, 50 cents for the frankincense, $3.50 for the myrrh, and a buck and a half for the card, that comes to . . . $7.50, plus GST. That will be $8.62. How will you be paying for that?

Melchior  – Cash. Here you are – $9.

Clerk  – What’s this crap?

Melchior  – It’s a five and two toonies.

Clerk   – Canadian money? There’s exchange on that. I’ll have to rework it. Lemme see  . . . carry four . . . $267.92.

Melchior  – We’re a little short . . . do you take Persian Express?

(Image Supplied)

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