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2002-05-01 - 10:27 p.m.

So, when I got home from work this evening there was a package for me. It was one of those "free" gifts that you pay the shipping and handling from the credit card bill. It was a mini vacuum, which actually took me a minute to figure out. I vaguely remember ordering it, mostly as a joke. I canít for the life of me remember who for or why itís been so long. Itís funny. But oddly strange and ineffective. Like tits on a bull my father would say. So I re-wrapped it up in itís gift wrap packaging and will no doubt foist it off on someone at a gift giving occasion. I think I ordered more than just that though. Which has me a little concerned. It will no doubt sit in my closet gathering dust. My Great Aunt Vi, who was an incredible woman, had a large box in her house full of such gifts. I donít know if she was compulsive, naÔve, or merely in love with Harriet Carter and itís catalog of wonders, but it seems that she had every gadget, trinket, and bauble sold. We always loved getting her packages at Christmas. One year I got a pleather ďbomber styleĒ jacket that was more plastic than anything. My friends and I mined the comic potential out of that one until it dissolved in the trunk of my car. She also gave me Bryce Courtenayís moving story of Africa, The Power of One, and a anniversary copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. I used to take her to the store, where we would snicker at the old ladies and their husbands from her retirement community and then go back to her condo and sheíd make me salad that was more mayonnaise than vegetables or something from her Fry Pappy(it makes a lovely gift for Mom, and Mother's Day is just around the corner!), which she loved to use. She once made French Toast in it. I don't recomend. While on a river cruise through Europe she fell out of the bus she was boarding, hit her head on a curb and never regained consciousness. My mother and Grandparents (her brother is my Grandfather) where along with her on the trip. Hers was the first real death that Iíd had to deal with, a taste of the grief to eventually come. Itís amazing what a cheap battery powered suction device from Malaysia can trigger in the mind. What was ordered as a gag gift for a forgotten event becomes the symbol of the inevitable passing of loved ones.

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