When seatbelts attack (or, the Griswolds buy a Christmas tree):
A few Christmases ago, the lovely and gracious Shirley and I went on a quest to find the perfect Christmas tree. We went to a lovely little Christmas tree farm and, hacksaw in hand, began our search. After about an hour of intense scrutiny, there it was! After cutting it down (Timberrrrr!... I was wearing my spiffy new lumberjack shirt), we drug it back to the check-out place and had it wrapped in that neat-looking mesh stuff. Using copious quantities of twine, I began tying that bad boy to the roof of the car. I felt like I had bagged a large moose! (You know, in New Hampshire, where my oldest daughter lives, they have "Moose Crossing" signs along the highways. Sorta like "Deer Crossing" signs down south. I've always wondered if moose and deer can really read, so that they know where they're 'sposed to cross the road. But, I digress.) Anyway, the lovely and gracious Shirley is already in the car while I'm tying down the tree. A friend of Shirley's happens by, and they start chatting away. I complete my task. I try to open the door. I can't. I've tied the door shut with twine. I can't get in; Shirley can't get out. Well, there's nothing to do but crawl through the window. Shirley gets my attention and gives me a look like "Don't you dare do that until my friend leaves." So, I mill around, checking the tree's security until the friend is safely out of sight. Then, I gracefully enter the car through the window and off we go. My car has the type of shoulder restraints that slide back automatically when I start the car. The top of the belt slides along a rail at the top of the door until
we're safely secured. Well, the twine is in the way of the belt gizmo. When it encounters the twine, it attacks. Click, click, click. Its one mission in life is to get to its appointed position at the rear of the door. Click, click, click. It hits the twine, retreats about an inch, and attacks again, on both doors. Click, click. click. In addition, since the belt gizmo is not where it's supposed to be, the seatbelt warning light is flashing and the bells are sounding. Click, click, beep, beep. Down the road we go. The belt gizmo is making progress. It is cutting through the twine!! Click, click, beep, beep. We're in danger of losing the tree. We roll down our windows and each reach out an arm to hold on to the tree. It is cold outside (and now inside). It is sleeting. Click, click, beep, beep. Okay, I've got my left hand on the tree and my right hand on the steering wheel. Shirley has her right hand on the tree. What's left? The gear shift knob
and Shirley's left hand. Click, click, beep, beep. With coordination possible only between soul mates, I steer and push in clutch and Shirley shifts while we both hold onto the tree. We're running out of appendages. Click, click, beep, beep. To make a long story anti-climactic, we arrive home safely and climb out of our respective car windows. The next year, we got an artificial tree which still sits benignly in our living room today.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Steve and Shirley.
December 26, 1999