A Heartwarming Christmas Tale to Read to Your Children This Holiday Season

All I wanted was a sandwich.

I had taken a number at the deli section of the grocery store and I was waiting for it to be called.

That’s when the mother of one of my son’s friends saw me.  I thought about hiding in the bread aisle, but I didn’t want to miss my number being called.

She walked over and started talking.  About her son.  About the basketball league her son is in.  About the coach of that baskeball team.  About the coach of his baseball team.  About how something in some tryout wasn’t fair.  About something something something.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

I didn’t know what to do.

Worse, she took a number, which meant we’d both be waiting together, for what was beginning to feel like the better part of a decade.

I looked down at my clothes to see if I was wearing the shirt that said, “Tell me a whole bunch of boring shit about your personal life.”

I was not.

That’s when the accordion started.

An accordion.

Like war and famine, something that should not exist.

It was a smorgasboard o’ annoyance.

All I was missing now was a swarm of locust.

The accordion was being played by some high school student.  I guess to entertain shoppers.  And I use the word “entertain” loosely, as in “something that makes you want to kill yourself.”

And he was playing a Christmas carol.  At least I assume it was a Christmas carol.  The way he played it was hard to tell.  It could just as easily been “Stairway to Heaven.”

If there is anything worse than listening to a self-absorbed woman talk for ten minutes about her son, it’s doing it to the tune of a high school kid’s accordion.

And it did not stop Mighty Mouth from talking.  It made her talk louder.

“HANG ON ONE SECOND,” she shouted, “I HAVE TO GET A BAG OF CHIPS.”  She walked around the end-cap of the aisle.

I knew that brief window of time for what it was.

A gift from God.  Lo, a miracle.

And I did with it what the Lord himself intended.

I ran.

Right out the front door of the grocery store.

No sandwich.  No nothing.

There was no food on earth worth the sound of that woman’s voice.

On my way out, I glared at the accordion player.  It was rude.  But not as rude as what I wanted to do, which was push him over.  But I didn’t do it, because I knew I was in the midst of carrying out the Lord’s will, and I thought it would be inconsistent to assault someone.

Running from the grocery store, I knew I now had something in common with the little girl from  34th Street.

We both believed in miracles.

35 thoughts on “A Heartwarming Christmas Tale to Read to Your Children This Holiday Season

  1. This has nothing to do with the post, but i was just wondering when you were going to post some more tips on drawing a comic strip.

  2. You are my hero. I take a train to work. I want my iPod, the paper, and a pencil to do the sudoku. Why do people talk to me? Do the headphones not say buzz off? I helped a woman who had never taken that train before. (In her defense I hadn’t put on the headphones.) In one train ride I learned more about her than I know about my cubicle mate and we’ve shared space for 3 years. Now I have to hide from her daily so we don’t have to chat.

  3. Heh. If you look good in a bikini, you’ll be a shoo-in for the 2010 Miss Anthrope pageant. Best of luck!

  4. You were mistaken for a stay-at-home mom. You went from law to stay-at-home. I went from stay-at-home mom to law. So I have seen both sides. And there’s no question in my mind which side is preferable. After working today on unfilled footnotes on the Jackson-Vanic amendment of the U.S. Trade Laws, I would much rather listen to this mom ALL DAY, even with an accordian in the background. You need a dose of Bil Keane.

  5. And legal footnotes have turned my mind to mush … it should be Jackson-Vanik.

    You have been away from law for too long. I’ll send you some philosophical law review articles, and you’ll be begging to go talk to this mom again.

  6. You’re punishment was for not understanding what a grocery store is for. It’s for buying groceries…you know, the stuff you use in your kitchen to make stuff for yourself. A deli or sandwich shop is for buying _pre-made stuff_. Naturally you got caught in line with other morons who don’t know what store to go to for what they want.

  7. Yes, high school student accordion players are annoying. Actually, high school students in general are annoying. And 99.999% of accordion players of any age are annoying. However, I suggest you listen to the subdudes to discover that one accordion player in a billion who is actually a pleasure to listen to.

  8. dude, this is why cell phones were invented. you text a quick “call me” to staci, your son, anyone, and when they call you don’t even have to really talk to them. just babble on about whatever, until they hang up and then just keep talking. You can even use the “excuse me, i have to take this” line to politely walk away while you “take” your important call. trust me, it works.

  9. You should dress up like a twitchy Mexican wrestler. No one will bother you. A nice white room with padded walls, three squares with a flexible spoon…

  10. But you are mistaken, Stephan. Accordion players were created by god simply to be pushed over. Mimes too. You missed your chance to do a good turn for the rest of the world. In fact, not pushing him over might actually be a sin. Go to church. Confess. Three hail Marys.

  11. Hey there Stephan,

    My name is Megan and I work for FUEL brand network (check out our website Fuelbrandnetwork.com) I was wondering if I could feature you in an article? I love your comics and I feel like you are perfect fit. I would love to know more about your creative process and spread your work around to our readers. I would love to hear from you and give you a few questions to answer. Thank you!

    Megan

  12. Stephan, I, too, once ran, RAN I tell you, from a lame-o party. I pretended I left something in my car and literally ran to the car, started it up and drove away. It felt wonderful.

  13. You should start wearing a shirt that says “DON’T tell me a whole bunch of boring shit about your personal life.” The cursing would probably deter soccer moms…

  14. Come on, Pastis. One accordion? What if you’d been in a REAL delicatessen and there’d been a whole klezmer band?

  15. i can’t tell you how many times i have been trapped in that same conversation. and it’s always some place where you can’t easily escape..the dmv, or the doctor’s office. on and on with the eight thousand reasons why their son’s basketball/hockey/football/t-ball coach is being completely unfair and ruining their 8 year old’s chances at the big leagues. i spend the entire time screaming, ‘shut up shut up SHUT UUUUP!’ inside my head, and desperately wishing for some kind of minor explosive device that could create a distraction and provide a brief cloud of smoke to aid my disappearance.

    the only people who wouldn’t understand why you bailed are right now busy inflicting the endless minutia of their lives on some poor unsuspecting passerby. thank you. your miracle has reminded me to take a moment to be grateful that today, that poor sap isn’t me.

  16. hahaha… this is awesome. There really WAS an accordian there? I didn’t know they were still stupid enough to manufacture those.

  17. I just had a day like this helping to volunteer at my kid’s school. She was one of these moms who document everything and all she and her kids do on her FB status. I was stuck in the copy room with her and all she did was ramble on about her job and her kids and her ex and her current husband. ARRGGHHHH!

  18. Please do not ever return to your law job! Please continue to fill our days with laughter! You say the things we think but never say out loud.
    Blessings To You!
    Beth

  19. Doing a strip on this might be your best defense against future verbal drownings. When I was a the Un. of Texas I was sitting on “the Drag” watching students interact with the Hare Krishnas (It’s always fun to watch my fellow Texans interact with unfamiliar things that they’re not allowed to shoot). Berke Breathed (still a college cartoonist) was also observing. I saw him pounced upon by a young conversationalist and I watched helplessly as this woman slowly smothered his soul with her jabbering. She found herself in one of his strips a few days later and his perspective on the encounter was not subtle.

    A different cartoonist, woman, and accordion (the Krishnas brought their tunes)–same level of despair. I think Breathed has been a recluse since then.

  20. this guy i always laugh at work at shook my hand twice at the christmas party little bastard got me back .thank godz for hand santizier

  21. Okay, I know I’m over a month behind the times leaving a comment on this.
    But, AE, while I agree that stay-at-home-moms are often the perpetrators of this sort of behavior, I beg to differ on whether other stay-at-home-moms welcome it. I, too, have been both a stay-at-home-mom and a full-time-working-lawyer-who-is-also-a-mom, as well as a part-time-working-lawyer-stay-at-home-the-rest-of-the-time-mom and in each of these circumstances I would rather have attended a combination motion hour/swim meet/high-school accordian concert while having my eyebrows waxed than listen to the details of someone’s kid sport woes.
    Just wanted to mention this before people got the idea that stay-at-home-moms are fair game for such attacks.

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