My sister-in-law/friend bought us one of the most useful gifts we have ever received though I have to say, it didn’t look that way to begin with. To begin with it just looked like a ping-pong ball with a party hat, eyeballs and a streamer poking out where a mouth should be. She bought if for us as a sort of joke when we stopped at a garage sale while on a road trip together, en route to a family birthday party, a few hundred miles from home.
Darcy impaled the ping-pong ball on our car’s antenna and on we went, never expecting it to make the full trip. Not only did it survive the drive, but almost two years later it is still perched on top of our antenna. This has turned out to be a wonderful thing.
We named the ping-pong ball Party Dude and his cheerful round face sets our vehicle apart from the hundreds, if not thousands, of similar cars that dot the parking lots of our town. Whenever we misplace our car, we only have to look for Party Dude’s bulbous little head.
I recently heard a story that made me even more grateful for the gift.
Apparently a friend of a friend was at the mall doing some Christmas shopping. We’ll call her Sue. As Sue made her way through the mall she became so laden down with boxes and bags that she decided to run out to her vehicle, drop off her purchases and then return to the mall to finish shopping.
Out into the cold December afternoon Sue went, hurrying across the parking lot to her vehicle, clicking the key fob on her approach. She frowned when the lights failed to flash and there was no familiar click of the doors unlocking, but she pulled on the rear door handle just the same. To her relief the door opened.
Sue deposited all her purchases on the backseat, slammed the door and clicked the key fob once again to lock the doors. But nothing happened. She clicked again. Still nothing. In exasperation she opened the driver’s door and hit the manual lock button on the arm rest and quickly closed the door. As the door shut she noticed two things. Well, three actually.
One – A heavy silver chain with a large skull and cross bone pendant was dangling from the rear view mirror, along with an air freshener that boasted an outline of a naked lady.
Two – A large black travel mug was sitting on the console. When she peered through the window she made out the words “The Party’s Not Over Until You Smile For The Mug Shot” written on the side.
Three – She had locked her Christmas gifts into someone else’s car.
Sue spent the next two hours sitting in her car (which had been parked two cars over) waiting for the owner of the vehicle to return and trying not to think about how big, burly and angry he might be. Or how desperately she had to pee.
The man who finally showed up was every bit as intimidating as she had imagined, but he was also wildly entertained by what had happened. In fact he was so entertained, he insisted on taking a picture of her holding all the packages next to his car so he could prove to his friends it had really happened.
“They’ll never believe this,” he kept saying.
What could she do? Sue miserably stood by his car with her arm load of stuff and weakly smiled at his phone.
She was grateful to have all her stuff back and I’m sure Sue’s family and friends were grateful for the gifts she bought for them that day, but I bet there wasn’t a single item in all those bags and boxes as wonderful or as useful as our Party Dude.