Dear Santa

December 13, 2008 06:01 AM

I'd rather not go into how good or bad I have been this year; let's just say my "favorable” numbers aren't slipping as fast as some people's. And while I know it's been a few years since I wrote to you, the markets recently have caused me to reassess my grasp of what is real and what isn't.

So I hope you will consider this gift request list because, frankly, Google and Amazon have let me down big-time this year. If your search engine can find the stuff below, please send me a link and I'm sorry I bothered you. You will notice the items are not necessarily the hot items of the year, but if they were I wouldn't be troubling a guy who apparently has his own weight and smoking issues.

1. Metric sensing glasses. Here's the deal. After decades of selecting the wrong socket or wrench, I have become pretty good at telling a 15/16" from a 11/8" nut on the first try. Oh, sure, I can get suckered by a 5/8", thinking it's 9/16", but what kind of bolt has different head and nut sizes?

Anyway, I had finally gotten that chore in hand, but as you may be aware (that sleigh looks suspiciously European to me), more and more machinery is being assembled with metric hardware. Don't get me wrong—I have no fight with a measuring system that is not based on some royal bozo's body parts. But when I see a metric bolt, my first reaction is to drag over every metric wrench I've got. As though I could read the socket size markings! (If color codes are OK for nut drivers, then why not—sorry, I guess that's not your department, Nick.)

Not only can I not guess what size the bolt is, I don't know what size it's likely not to be. Every metric wrench could be the "Euroversion” of 13/16", for all I know. So what I really, really need is a pair of glasses that would scan such hardware and display the size in, say, the lower right corner of my vision: 15 mm, for example. I'm pretty sure this is tech-nically possible and that somebody in China could make them plenty cheap, too. (Tell them they can hold the melamine, by the way.) I require a 1.75 in reading glasses—whatever that means.

2. "Monk” work-shirts. Maybe you've added auto-steer to your sleigh, so this may ring a bell, Big S. Anyway, something strange happens when you don't have to keep your hands on a steering wheel (or reins) while working: you soon run out of things to do with your arms.

For the next few hours, you experiment with all kinds of positions: the Abe Lincoln Memorial double-armrest grasp, or the "I'm still waiting” crossed-arms pose. I have even resorted to a sort of tap-dancer's waving when working really rough ground.

It all seems rather undignified, but I think I've come across a solution. I've been reading about monastic life and you know those robes with cowls that look so creepy during exorcisms? Those things have big sleeves into which a monk can insert the opposite arm and strike a serene, contemplative pose.

The sleeve thing won't work well, mostly because I like big sandwiches and I'm messy enough already, but what about a big crosspocket to accomplish the same purpose? It would be similar to the handwarmers quarterbacks use late in the season. As a bonus, it would not just offer an air of dignified calm but also support your forearms.

Don't make the pocket overly snug or it will give an unnerving straitjacket appearance, and that would confirm too many ugly local rumors. Plus I foresee some bad experiences at the end of the rows if I lose precious seconds reaching for the wheel.

3. More childhood. Maybe this is beyond your job description, but I figure a guy who can fly behind reindeer may be able to do some other unlikely tricks. How about some new childhood memories?

It seems to many I have pretty well overused my stock of childhood stories, and darned if I can jog new ones to add to my repertoire. Even old photos simply remind me of the story of the photo. So if you could, refresh me on incidents when I was hilarious, heartwarming, brave, inspiring, etc. There must be many such events I've (apparently along with everyone else) merely forgotten. I mean, if there weren't, how pathetic would that be?
Just in case, perhaps you could transplant wonderful memories from someone else. I'd never know the difference, and those around me would be relieved to hear new material.

I realize this is a long shot, but as you know, Santa, at this time of life almost any shot we have is a long one.


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