Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Gifts for everyone, even people you haven’t met

December 29, 2012

The presents are all unwrapped, and yards of wrapping paper were crunched up and thrown away. The party’s over. This year’s Christmas proceeded almost without incident. Though, a game of Apples to Apples was destroyed by a red wine spill. I won a game of Dumb Ass, and lost a game of Scrabble. And I talked everyone out of playing that memory game I don’t like. I don’t remember the name of it.

On Christmas Eve, there was a lively discussion about presents. My sister-in-law told me she had to buy gifts for the assistant dance coach, the hockey coaches and others. I think the whole thing is getting out of hand. You may ask, “Why do we have to buy gifts for people already snatching money from our wallet?”

The answer is pretty simple: to avoid being labeled a cheapskate. We give because all the other mothers are getting them something. It’s a social obligation.

The question really is, “Where do we draw the line?”

Suddenly, everyone is getting a gift. It doesn’t end at Christmas, either.

In October, a co-worker came up to me and said, “It’s Linda’s baby shower. We’re all pitching in five dollars.”

I inquired, “Who’s Linda?”

My co-worker replied, “She works on the second floor.”

I never met Linda. I had never been to the second floor. But I opened my wallet anyway. It was only five bucks. I don’t want to be The-Guy-Who-Doesn’t-Give.

Every office has one of those guys. We all know him, and no one likes him.

He’s the guy who never chips in. He’s the guy who brings a Ziploc bag to a buffet. He’s the guy who never joins the gang for lunch, unless the company is picking up the tab. Sometimes he’s even a she, but most of the cheapskates I have met are the male variety.

He’s the guy I sometimes envy. He doesn’t buy gifts for people he’s never met. There’s no debate about how much to tip the mail carrier at Christmas at his house. There’s no argument about buying gifts for the assistant hockey coach over there, either. His daughter’s piano teacher doesn’t get a “little extra something” at the holidays.

That wallet might never open, but I bet there’s money in there.

Pittsburgh had several productions of “The Christmas Carol” this year, two different musical ones with different songs even. The lesson was wasted on the ones who have the money to go to the show. The real Scrooges are at home, counting their money.

Charles Dickens and Dr. Seuss both wrote morality tales about misers. French playwright Moliere beat them to it, but Dickens and rhyming boy get all the credit. Even way back in 1668, people were making fun of the skinflints. Sometimes you have to pay the piper before you pay the piper.

I plan on having a well-attended funeral. Maybe Linda from the second floor will come to the church and say, “He was always so generous.”



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