By WALLACE BAINE
Last year, during this gift-giving season, the family kept complaining that I was “hard to buy for,” so I did what I thought was helpful – wrote up my own holiday gift wish list. I even published the thing in the newspaper.
And you know what I actually received from that list? Nada, zilch, bupkus.
I don’t want to complain. I’m perfectly aware that I set the bar a bit high. Asking “for everyone under the age of 30 to be completely impervious to death” is the kind of request that would drive Santa Claus to drink. He’d have to kick that request upstairs to the Boss, and no, I don’t mean Bruce Springsteen.
Anyone can ask for a gold-plated Lamborghini. I wanted to be creative. Sue me.
This year, I know not to get my hopes up. Man, you don’t know disappointment until you’ve opened your last gift and you find a sweater instead of what you were sure was controlling stock interest in Caesar’s Palace.
But I’m not giving up. If anyone’s paying attention, here’s my latest list of What I Want (and, for the record, I wear a size “Large”):
I want a law forbidding bumper stickers to be more than four words long. Do you want people to stop tailgating you, or do you want them to read your philosophical manifesto? You can’t have both.
I want three things to come back from the dead, in this order: “Calvin & Hobbes,” David Lynch’s brilliance, personal privacy.
I want every American to be given one paid holiday every month so they can contemplate what they might be wrong about.
I want every man and woman to meet the person of their dreams. But before that, I want them to experience loneliness, unrequited longing and the kind of heartbreak they write country songs about. It’s only then that later they’ll be able to experience love at its deepest and most satisfying.
If I can’t live forever, I at least want that privilege granted to Pete Seeger.
I want to be real friends with everyone who is now my Facebook friend.
I want the nation’s capital to be relocated to Maui, then I want a close relative to be named emperor.
I want the First Amendment to be suspended only in the case of any more potential sequels to “Sex in the City.”
I want every American to have to spend a year in Africa before they can qualify to get a credit card.
I want everyone who uses the phrase “outside the box” to be put in one; and everyone who uses the phrase “thrown under the bus” to be run over by one.
I want to go back in time, but only to see Harry Houdini perform.
I want to make an addition to the Seven Deadly Sins and declare willful ignorance to be sin number eight.
I want everyone over 50 to be granted the ability to suddenly remember five good stories about their life that they had completely forgotten.
I want to run a grand experiment in which everyone who reads the National Enquirer will instead read National Geographic, just to see if life in America improves a little.
I want gas stations to please stop expressing the price of gasoline with nine-tenths of a cent. Yes, we’ve all grown accustomed to this practice. But it’s still a con that a four-year-old can figure out.
I want for one day a week – let’s say Tuesday – the 24/7 satellite-TV monster to go quiet with only one channel allowed to operate, carrying only off-off-Broadway theater, open-mike nights and independent films that cost less than an iPad.
I want to bring Benjamin Franklin to 2010, show him how a Blackberry works, take him to see “Avatar” in 3-D, get him a ride on the space shuttle and send him back to the 18th century, just to see how history might change.
I want anyone who saw “Hot Tub Time Machine” to be credited that time back, plus interest, at the end of their lives.
I want every television, video and still camera and microphone in the world equipped with a chip that would make it burst into flames if it was ever pointed at Donald Trump.
If I ever have to be someone’s personal servant, I want it to be Tom Waits.
I want the Republican and Democratic parties to be for my children what eight-track tapes and rotary phones are for me: obsolete totems of nostalgia and reminders that we eventually figured out something better.
I want everyone to be given one specific dish that doesn’t count on their cumulative intake of calories, fat and cholesterol. And make mine key lime pie with graham-cracker crust.
I want each person to do something decent – even if it’s just giving a friendly wave or holding the door open – for someone in their lives who they suspect dislikes them.
I want to live the final five years of my life no more than 100 miles from the equator. And I want to die in a rope hammock, smelling the ocean, on a warm overcast afternoon with a storm coming in and with a Nick Hornby novel lying open on my chest, after eating a tasty lunch prepared by someone who loves me.
OK, that last one is actually attainable. But, if it’s all right with everyone, we can put that one on the shelf for a few decades. I mean, I’m not greedy.