Friday, December 26, 2008

I Had a Dream

When I was a house builder I would occasionally have epic dreams about building houses that would leave me dazed and tired in the morning. Those have dried up over the years and been replaced by a panoply of the usual fare: melting telephones, missed airplane connections, my old high school filled with images from Abu Ghraib (never mind). But last night I had my first product spokesperson dream. You'd think after 23 years of pitching Motel 6 that this would have happened sooner. I guess you don't really dream about the things you are comfortable with.

The only reason I mention it is because the dream was very real and very funny. I was standing in a recording studio reading the script off the side of a cardboard shipping carton. Not my usual studio technique. The product was Royanne Hardware. The tag-line, and punchline of the dream, was "Royanne. When you really need a screw."

For some reason this cracks me up. Not the line itself. It is not too far-fetched to imagine some local or regional ad agency coming up with that kind of jokey vulgarism for a hardware client. What's so funny is that my ungoverned sleeping self would fire valuable and declining synapses to think of it.

Of course, the next question someone of a quasi-spiritual/psychiatric nature might ask is, What does it mean? I googled Royanne and only came up with a town in the Alpine region of France. Might be some past life stuff going on here, you think? Some of my ancestors came from France, but a completely different part of it. Could one of them have taken a trip to Royanne needing a screw? Is there an entire unrecognized branch of the Bodett (Baudet, Beaudette, Bodette) tree out there seeking contact? Do they still live in the Alps? Are they rich?

This is what passes for visions of sugar plums dancing around in my head. Happy Christmas. Dream big.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dear Governor Blagojevich,

You may not know me, but I am a fellow son of Illinois. I was born in Champaign-Urbana, one of the loveliest of the hyphenated mid-sized metro areas. Champaign-Urbanites are quite proud of their hyphen, as am I. My mother was born and raised in Kewanee, as I'm sure you know, the Hog Capital of Illinois. You may have attended or been tempted to attend their annual Hog Heaven celebration each summer. My father is from the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. His father and mother are buried there and remain active in local politics. I'm almost certain they voted for you.

My reason for telling you all of this is now that you have been abandoned by Candidate #1 (and 2 and 3 and 4 and 6) I would like to be the answer to your Senate appointment problems. I have a clean history -- politically speaking. While I have absolutely no governing skills or experience, certainly that presents no obstacle to office in the Land of Lincoln. I also would undoubtedly make a huge mess of things, so the good people of Illinois would not have to go through any troubling change. For you I could arrange for weekly shipments of cigarettes and smoked meats once you are in prison. I would also keep your portrait hanging in all state buildings. It is hilarious, and good for employee moral.

Illinois has served me (not exactly in the way you have been served) and I would like to contribute in-kind. Particularly to your needs. Certainly you must be feeling a lot of anger and resentment toward US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and the constitutional republic he represents. So, what better way to extract your revenge than to appoint a completely clueless rube to one of this republic's most distinguished deliberative bodies? It will make them crazy. I guarantee it. Awaiting your learned reply I remain,

Your Humble and Expedient Servant,

Tom Bodett

Proud Son of Illinois

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas Tree. Oh, Christmass Tree...

...Your lights are so unnerving.

Yesterday marked our annual family ritual known as, The Untangling of the Lights. Like millions of men and women across the western world we peered into a cardboard box containing the head of Medusa and proceeded to test and troubleshoot last year's Christmas lights. Let me tell you something -- I built a working Heathkit radio when I was 13. In high school, I installed the tape players in my friends' cars in return for rides and contraband. I've wired houses. Yet. It remains a mystery to me how a string of lights works.

I always buy the strings that say, "Keeps on working when one bulb burns out." This is not true. Entire random stretches of bulbs stop working for no apparent reason. You can change the fuse-so-small-you-can-lose-it-under-your-fingernail buried in the plug to no effect. Or, you can do what I do: Work your way methodically along the unlit bulbs to find the culprit. Wiggle the first bulb - nothing. Put a replacement bulb in it's place - nothing. Put the original bulb back in the socket and repeat on the next bulb. Do this six or eight times, then using both hands in a rapid circular motion, wrap up the entire string, slam dunk it in the trash can and go to the hardware store for another set.

There you will find a ragtag assembly of adults with the hollow eyes of The Thousand Light Stare scanning boxes for the holiday promise, "Keeps on working when one bulb burns out." And in a true miracle of the season, we believe it. Again. Like kids who find their Christmas gifts under a tarp in the basement on December 17th and still insist that Santa Claus is coming to town.

© Current Tom Bodett
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