Towering heaps of brown paper sacks

By David Grima | Jan 10, 2020

There was quite some consternation at the White House over the holidays, when it was realized that small people wearing red with green trim had been swarming across the US border without documentation, and without checking their considerable quantities of packages through US Customs.

Eerily enough, they were all coming from the north, while all our guns are pointing south. How do they know?

Furthermore, certain high officers of state talked for about five minutes longer, and came to the stunning conclusion that Santa had interfered with the 2016 elections. We all thought it was the wicked Russkies!

Steps are therefore being taken to place 90 percent import tariffs on candy canes and such like, and Lord Prez Trumpleton is working on a speech to the United Nations decrying the cross-border infiltration and election interference of 'Little Packet Man', as he calls Santa.

* * * * *

Over Christmas I received two messages in foreign languages, which I swear is perfectly true. One was a Christmas card in Welsh, which reached me in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, after a long and difficult journey from upper Linden Street.

The other was a long and puzzling telephone voice mail in what I assume is Chinese.

It seems Lord Trumpleton (may his tribe increase) has rightly perceived that the Chinese are using telephones to confuse the American people. Well done, sir! As a result he is proposing to make Americans pay more for imported goods from China.

* * * * *

I spoke to a local gentleman at a holiday party just the other week, and he delivered to me this brilliant piece of advice:

“To look young, be sure to sit next to older people who are fatter than you.”

So I immediately got up and left.

* * * * *

I read the other day in quite a serious science bulletin that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes people think more slowly, and generally encourages less thinking at all. On Dec. 20, published an article that begins this way:

“Humans are now pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at such a rate that it is heating the atmosphere. But as CO2 levels rise, we may be faced with another problem—muddled thinking. Prior research has shown that higher-than-normal levels of CO2 can lead to cognitive problems. In this new effort, the researchers looked at the problem of increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and its impact on children learning in a classroom.”

Forget the kids in classrooms, I say! If climate change makes it hard for people everywhere to think clearly, as this article says, then surely this is why all kinds of people don’t believe in climate change?

The very fact of climate change is apparently muddling our poor brains, making it hard for us to come to terms with climate changes. This explains everything!

* * * * *

Speaking of the Chinese and telephone messages, I must say it was a relief to many local citizens that our local Chinese restaurant was open for dinner on Christmas night.

You see, the neighbor’s dogs broke into our kitchen, caused a ruckus, and ate the turkey, so we had no option but to… No, wait a minute. That’s the plot from some holiday movie, not a scene from real life.

I get a bit muddled about these things, sometimes finding it difficult to distinguish between life and TV. I think climate change causing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has something to do with my difficulty.

What I meant to say is that Fashionable and Mrs. Bob from distant Owls Head had invited us for Christmas dinner at their house, only they had a last-minute Major Plumbing Crisis (I had to beg them not to tell me all the details) and were unable to accommodate us. They suggested instead we all go to the Chinese restaurant for dinner.

We drove from the South End, where several street lights are out in strategic locations, through a strangely silent Rockland landscape in which everywhere else was closed. Even the burger joints at the bottom of Maverick Street were not serving. Why, very little was stirring, hardly even a mouse, etc.

Driving along, Fashionable Bob had the nerve to complain that Rockland’s holiday lights did not meet his exacting artistic standards. Principally, they did not extend properly all the way down Main Street as he would have strongly preferred.

Seeking to preserve the general air of seasonal merriment and jollity that is rigorously demanded of everybody on such a special night, I advised him in measured tones that, as he was only a non-taxpaying guest in our fair community, city hall would be glad to accept his personal check to fund additional illuminations to suit his sophisticated out-of-town taste.

I also suggested a certain level of giving that might allow the Lime City treasury to fund his Owls Head fantasies, but for some reason (carbon dioxide?) he quickly dropped the subject.

When we arrived at the restaurant near Shaw’s, the place appeared to be jammed. I put on my sternest General MacArthur face and bravely stepped from my landing craft into the fray, to find about 900 people waiting for their dinners at the front desk. Amazingly, as we soon learned, almost all of them were only waiting to pick up their phoned-in take-out orders, and very few were planning to stay and eat in.

So we sailed through the crowds and were seated, served, and fed in pretty good time. However, the phone was ringing off the hook for the first 45 minutes of our Chinese Christmas dinner, and waiters kept emerging from the kitchen (I assume there is a kitchen behind that door) loaded with huge brown bags filled with Chinese food to go.

Some waiters, being short of stature, were often invisible behind the mountains of bags they had to carry to the front of the restaurant. Towering heaps of brown paper sacks seemed to be wandering unattended in the direction of the cash register. Yet all seemed to function like a well-oiled machine.

Half the county must have decided to eat Chinese on Christmas night.

Our only disappointment in the whole evening was that, when my order of Peking duck arrived on the table, it still had its head on and a vengeful grin plastered across its beak. I complained discreetly to the management while the rest of our party anxiously looked in directions away from the glaring bird.

So while the other waiters sang Christmas songs to us in fake Hollywood Chinese accents, the head waiter took an axe and chopped the duck’s head off right there on the table in front of the children. You should have heard them gasp!

Or was that bit actually in the movie? Hard to tell really. Too much carbon dioxide over the holidays makes it difficult to be certain.

Anyway, I am fairly sure we were all quite happy.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 12, 2020 12:52

Off with their heads mately!   Good humor and more food for thought, notice the pun?

Happy Holidays David and keep writing. you do make my day!

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