The Best, or Perhaps Worst, Holiday Present
Last weekend, I’m poking around the Catholic Thrift Shop in the basement of Saint Hyacinth’s, looking for some old board games for a craft project we’re working on. The “we” in this case are me and my friends Celeste, Rita, Betty, Dot, and Shirley, a.k.a. the Women Who Run With the Moose. The craft project? Sorry, I’m sworn to secrecy! Be on the lookout for it at the next Holiday Bazaar.
I’d just finished chatting with Emile Francoeur and Bobby Wilson, who were having coffee and donuts at the snack bar down there. How anyone can eat in that basement is beyond me. The Thrift Store is just plumb-chucka-full of all this old junk, and the smell! Charlie refers to it as “old lady BO.” I know that’s probably not politically correct, but go down there sometime and tell me if he’s not right.
So anyways, I’m browsing around, when I come across one of them Big Mouth Billy Bass. Suddenly, a shiver runs through me as I flash back to Christmas 2000: our worse Christmas ever.
You remember Big Mouth Billy Bass, don’t you? That fish mounted on a plaque? It looked normal enough at first, but it had a battery and motion sensor, and when you got near it, the fish started moving its head and tail, singing, “Take Me To the River,” or “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Because it looked like a real trophy, it would startle the person walking by, and make everyone laugh. OK, fess up: how many of you owned one? And how many of you still find them funny?
Now, the husbands of the Women Who Run With the Moose (Bud, Smitty, Pat, Tommy, Junior, and my Charlie) are all big-time into fishing, and they thought Billy Bass was hysterical. So each of them bought one to give to their wives for Christmas. I admit, it was kind of funny the first fifty times, especially if you were not the one being surprised by it.
Now granted, I’m not big on things like that to begin with. You know, a Santa that, when you push a button, wiggles around and sings “Jingle Bell Rock”? It’s just too “Bride of Chucky” for me. Charlie knew this, and started teasing me with Billy Bass. He kept moving it around the house, so it was constantly surprising me. One day it was in the den, another in the kitchen, the linen closet. One night I got up to go to the bathroom and it was waiting for me over the toilet: “Take Me To the River.”
“I’m going to take you to the trash can and stuff you in, Mr. Billy Bass!” I says.
Charlie thought it was a riot. I just couldn’t get him to stop. I tried everything: moving it to his workshop, taking the batteries out, hiding it and the batteries, putting it in the trash. That darn fish always seemed to resurface.
The last straw came at three o’clock in the morning, when I get up to go to the bathroom. I come back into the bedroom and pull back the covers, only to hear, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I nearly had a heart attack! I says to Charlie, “I hope Billy Bass is good in bed, because that’s who you’re going to be sleeping with if Billy doesn’t go bye-bye, right now, forever! I’m not fooling around here, Charlie. It’s me or the fish!”
And that was the last I saw of Billy Bass, until two summers ago when we had our yard sale. I see this fella from away coming out of the shed where he’d been looking at Charlie’s tools, Big Mouth Billy Bass under his arm. And if he didn’t look pleased as punch!
“You got yourself a real prize there,” I says. “That’s the original model. Must be a collectors item by now.”
“Oh yes,” he replies. “That guy in the shed gave me a great deal on it. My wife’s going to love it!”
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
(Listen to the podcast of Ida's column here.)