As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them.
What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay’s kids’ stockings were overflowed, his poor panty hose hung sadly empty and grew increasingly threadbare.
One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and a fake beard and went in search of an inflatable love doll.
Of course, they don’t sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown. If you’ve never been in an X-rated store, don’t go. You’ll only confuse yourself.
I was there almost three hours saying things like, “What does this do?” “You’re kidding me!” “Who owns that?” “Do you have their phone number?”
Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.
I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll suitable for a night of romance that could also substitute as a passenger in my car so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.
I’m not sure what a complicated doll is. Perhaps one that is subject to wild mood shifts and using a French accent for no reason at all. (That also describes a few ex-boyfriends.)
Finding what I wanted was difficult. Love dolls come in many different models.
The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I’d only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I figured the “vibro-motion” was a feature Jay could live without, so I settled for Lovable Louise. She was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a “doll” took a huge leap of imagination.
On Christmas Eve, with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan and cleverly left the front door key hidden under the mat.
In the wee morning hours, long after Santa had come and gone, I snuck into the house and filled the dangling panty hose with Louise’s pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray.
Then I let myself out, went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.
The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. He would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more. I suggested he purchase an inflatable Lassie to set Rover straight.
We also agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.
It seemed like a great idea, except that we forgot that Grandma and Grandpa would be there. My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door.
“What the hell is that?” she asked. My brother quickly explained. “It’s a doll.”
“Who would play with something like that?” Granny snapped. I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut. “Where are her clothes?” Granny continued. I hadn’t seen any in the box, but I kept this information to myself.
“Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran,” Jay said, trying to steer her into the dining room.
But Granny was relentless. “Why doesn’t she have any teeth?” Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, “Hang on Granny, Hang on!”
The dinner went well.
We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise that sounded a lot like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.
The cat screamed, I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth to mouth resuscitation.
My brother wet his pants and Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.
It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.