I recently visited a candle factory that also housed an expansive Christmas village. In the center of the village was a 30-foot Christmas tree that rotated slowly while holiday music played overhead.
The tree was surrounded by a ring of low shelves that held snow globes, ornaments and candles among other things.
I spotted an intriguing ornament dangling from one the tree’s branches and I wanted to get a closer look. I approached the wall of shelves and stood on my tiptoes in an attempt to touch the ornament, which I could now tell was a tiny Cardinal in a nest made of hay. Well, my wool sweater got snagged on the branch. I tried to not panic as the tree pulled me to my left as it turned on its axis.
At first I though I might be able to break free by tugging my wrist down. Nope. Didn’t work. I tried a harder jerk. Now I was caught on the branch in two places. At the wrist and the elbow. And the tree seemed to pick up speed.
There I was, strolling along with the tree, my right arm stretched high above. As the tree was about halfway through a complete turn, I noticed a store clerk on a ladder immediately in front of the shelves. He appeared to be adding ornaments to the tree.
Me: Look out! Coming through.
Clerk: Are you okay, sir?
Me: Oh yes, I just seem to be stuck to the tree. I’ll get myself free here shortly.
Clerk: That looks uncomfortable.
Me: Well, at least I’m moving forward.
[I had to scale the ladder in order to get around him.]
Clerk: I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the tree changes direction every 6 minutes.
Me: How long until it-
[The tree slowed and then started to turn in the opposite direction.]
Clerk: I’ll grab some scissors. Hold on. We’ll make this as discreet as possible.
[He moved the ladder of of the way. All of the sudden the music stopped and a woman’s voice filled the room via the loud speaker.]
Speaker: Happy Holidays. Please join us in the village center in front of the Christmas tree for a special performance by the Valley Volunteer Carolers. They’ll be singing some of your favorite holiday songs while you enjoy complimentary apple cider and cookies. At that moment, like 30 fucking carolers entered the room and gathered at the base of the tree – opposite of where I was – although I was on my way toward them as the tree pulled me along.]
Me: Oops. Coming through. Sorry. Just finishing my last lap. [As I pass behind the group of carolers (backward by the way), I whisper.] It’s the Santa stroll. I’ll be out of your way in a minute.
[I am not kidding when I tell you that there must have been 150 shoppers gathered in the room waiting to enjoy the show. The carolers break out into a version of Frosty the Snowman. As I turned the corner so that I was on the opposite side of the carolers, I panicked. I noticed a Frosty snow globe so I grabbed it. As I passed behind the carolers, I raised the snow globe over my head. I thought I could at least try to pretend I was part of the act. This sequence repeated itself for about 5 spins. During one pass I held up a life sized Elf on the Shelf. On another, I rang a handful of silver bells. I even lifted a Menorah at one point. On one of the final turns while the carolers were singing Mary Did You Know, I wore a giant white angel on my head. Ugh. Finally, the clerk was back.]
Clerk: Okay the tree is going to slow down now and spin in the opposite direction. That’s when I’ll try to cut you free.
Me: Okay I hope it’s soon. I ran out of props.
[The tree slows down and the clerk jumps into action. He snipped and cut and asked me to pull my arm down. I did. Still stuck. The tree started to spin again.]
Clerk: Take the sweater off! I’ll help.
[He lifts the waist of my brown sweater up over my head. I slip my left arm out of the sleeve but my right arm wouldn’t release. Now the sweater was over my head.]
Me: This is your idea of discreet?
Clerk: I think I’m stuck now.
Me: You’re kidding, right?
Clerk: I wish I was. And we’re now turning toward the carolers.
Me: I can’t see anything. This is all you, buddy.
[The carolers were now belting out a jolly version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. The clerk grabbed a set of reindeer antler candle holders and slapped them onto my head. He was already wearing a Santa hat.]
Clerk: Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas!
[I was hunched over. Arm in the air. brown sweater pulled over my head. Wearing antlers. Behind me was the clerk in a Santa hat. Ho Ho Ho’ing. I can only imagine we looked like a Thrift-store version of Old Saint Nick and his favorite reindeer. Luckily, the weight of the reindeer antlers was just enough to snag me free. The clerk escorted me directly into the “employees only” room where I completed my panic attack and put my sweater on the proper way. I’ll never go shopping again.]