I’m milling about Barnes & Noble after work, two paperbacks in one hand, a Caffe Mocha in the other. I don’t have anywhere I need to be, I’m in no rush to go home, so I’ve been wandering aimlessly through the store. Up at the front there’s a display of Christmas cards, a whole table full, and I realize with some weariness that Christmas is only around the corner, two months, but still. I don’t really need more Christmas cards; I have some left from last year that I can use this coming Christmas, but I go and take a look anyway.
“Do you have any Lord of the Rings Christmas cards?”
I look around. The only person in the vicinity is a woman, middle-aged, slightly frumpy, glasses. “Excuse me?” I reply.
“Lord of the Rings Christmas cards. Do you have any?”
Let’s consider the fact that I don’t work for Barnes & Noble for a moment. People must think I work in every retail establishment–I must have that “presence” or somesuch.
My eyes narrow. I blink rapidly, several times. Confusion abounds. My voice hardens. “Lord of the Rings Christmas cards. You’re looking for Lord of the Rings Christmas cards.”
She bobs her head excitedly, oblivious to the incredulity in my voice. “Yes, yes, absolutely. Something with Hobbits around a Christmas tree.”
I breathe deeply. “Are you out of your mind? Lord of the Rings Christmas cards? Do you realize how stupid a question that is?” I’m practically shrill.
“What do you mean?” How she wasn’t insulted I can’t fathom.
“They don’t celebrate Christmas in Middle-Earth. They don’t even have religion in Middle-Earth. And you want Christmas cards? Don’t you realize how tacky that is? For frell’s sake, I hope the Tolkien estate never endorses something so patently insipid.”
That insulted her, and she stormed off elsewhere in the store, doubtless to tell someone on duty what a terrible staffer I was.
Hobbits and Christmas trees. Some ideas are just too stupid to think about.