Christmas Catastrophe: The Tree Fights Back ” Is that my tree I see in the rear view?!”

December 2, 2004

So, I had decided to get the Christmas tree on my own, last year, to surprise my mom. Seems benign enough, right? Locate tree place, locate tree, give money to Person of Authority, transport tree home.

However, I'd jumped in on this a little late in the game, so the trees at the lots were a bit picked over. I found myself forced to visit Home Despot: Do-It-Yourself Store of the Damned.

By this point, all spazzed out on holiday effervescence (and caffeine), I'd forgotten completely that my Mustang is really not an adequate tree transportation device.

I quickly made my tree selection; my only criterions were that it be taller than me (which is tough when you're above six feet tall) and not emaciated.

I hauled it to the counter, and the Mouth-Breathing Tree Guy cuts a bit off the bottom.

And then he looks at my car.

And then I look at my car.

And I look at The Mouth-Breathing Tree Guy, and back to the tree.

I mumbled, "Any suggestions?"

And he grunted, "Roof." (Monosyllables really suited him.)

Awesome. Roof. I can put it on the roof. I've never put anything on my roof. I have, however, seen guys in cars on the freeway with mattresses strapped to their roofs, always with that one arm out the window like if an updraft catches that mattress, their arm will save the day.

But I digress.

The slack-jawed tree yokel informs me that he can't help me attach the tree to my car, for insurance reasons. Which is not a problem, I'm strong. So I put a towel from my trunk down on the roof, and slide the tree on up.

And then I cut me some twine from a spool on the fence. Mmm. Twine.

Problem is, I'm only good at tying tight, impermeable knots when I don't intend to; case-in-point, the Great Crochet Fiasco of 2002. It took a straight razor and a friend who could suppress laughter long enough to hold their hand steady, to get me out of that one. So, I began running the twine across the roof, around the tree, and through the cabin of the car haphazardly, assuming it would anchor the tree just fine. I started drawing a crowd, running from one side of the car to the other, kneeling on the roof to tie more knots. Probably because I was squealing like a little girl does, when you drop a spider down her dress. Not that I have any firsthand experience with that… really… I don't.

With a flourish, I tied a huge, final knot. I grinned smugly as I tugged on the twine, and it didn't give.

Downside: I realize I've tied my doors shut.

Upside: The windows are down!

Ever watched a big-breasted Amazon-sized woman try to crawl into a car through the window?

I did figure out that going in headfirst was a bad idea. Of course, that was AFTER I got stuck halfway through.

Yeah. Might I also mention that my pants, which were already baggy, had worked their way halfway down my rear, and were taking my underwear with them?

I managed to dislodge myself from the window, baring my winter-pale posterior to the denizens of the Home Despot parking lot, and decided to take the Action Flick approach and try to jump in feet first. After a running start, I grab the roof and jump, and of course one foot goes in, and the other slips and goes out, and I end up with a whole lotta door in my crotch. Ow.

So. Plan C, slide lithely in through the window. I grab the roof, and put my feet on the door's window frame, and slither in. All was well until I landed and got stabbed in the butt by the knife I'd used to cut the twine, and had intelligently left on the driver's seat.

It's interesting when millions of years of evolutionary "Flee! FLEE!" instinct hit you in your gut at a million miles an hour. I felt pain, and then something deep in my caveman brain instructed me to act immediately to distance myself from danger. So I did what needed to be done. I dove back out of my car the way I got in; through the window.

But headfirst. Into asphalt. At this point, everyone in the tree lot is staring at me, as I'm now screaming, crying, and writhing on the blacktop, facedown, clutching my rear. Now, in my life, I have had numerous moments of complete and utter humiliation, and this one does not necessarily take the cake.  Through all this, I have developed the following mantra: Admit nothing.  Deny everything. Make counter-accusations.

I peeled my body off the pavement, moved the knife, and calmly reused Plan C.

Upside: I am now in my vehicle.

Downside: My keys are still on the roof, and I'm bleeding.

Luckily the Mouth-breathing Tree Guy was nice enough to hand them to me.  I do not make eye contact.

Folks, this ain't over.

I start driving away, and the tree shifts backwards, slightly.  Which I'd accounted for, when I was tying on the twine.

I was about halfway home, when I turned into the wind and all hell broke loose.

Well rather, the tree broke loose.

I'm driving along wondering how I'm going to bandage my posterior…. "HOLY CONIFERS BATMAN, IS THAT MY TREE I SEE IN THE REARVIEW?!"

It was. Appartently., the towel the tree was on acted like some kind of tree-launching device, and of course because the tree moved, the twine moved.  You remember, all the twine running across the inside of my car?  Yeah.  Because I'm tall, when the tree went backwards, the twine cinched around my hair and started to pulling my head out the window.

I pulled onto the median, and watched in my mirrors as the car behind me ran over my tree.  I flung myself from my vehicle, and realized in one horrible moment that not only my tree in the middle of the road, but it was also attached to me via the twing, which slid down around my neck.

Being the idiot I am, I ran into traffic thinking I'm just going to grab a branch and book it for the median again.  

Several near-death experiences later, I'd managed to get the tree back beside my car.  Now, some Random Guy has pulled over expressly to yell at me.  That's right. Not to offer assistance, just to yell.  And while I'm yelling back and trying to affix my mangled tree on my car again with some spare shards of twine, the tree rolls off my roof (because I'm on the median, the car is tilted on one side) and the trunk of it HITS ME IN THE FACE.  I go got the biggest shiner of my life from a tree.

Long story short, I eventually made it hoome.  While trying to bodily the force tree into our circa-1970s ghettostand, it fell over and hit me.  And when it was finally upright again, and I left the room, it fell over and took out a glass coffee table.

Want a little 20/20 retrospect?  The driver's side and passenger's windows in '99 Mustang don't have an upper frame,  The glass runs straight up into a piece of rubber between it and the side of the roof.  That being said, there was no way I could've tied my doors shut.  All of that could've been avoided.  I didn't even try to open the door.  You know what they say about assumptions.

This year, I'm buying an artifical tree and a can of pine-sented air freshener.  Way lower disaster potential.  What could possibly go awry?

Christmas Catastrophe: The Tree Fights Back ” Is that my tree I see in the rear view?!” was published on December 2, 2004 in Features

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