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So I finally got my Gorkanaut on his base, though not the base I wanted. I tried several times to build a grot sandcastle but it just wasn't happening so rather than keep failing I decided to let it go for now and just finish him off as is.
To whom it may concern:
I have noted, along with many of your other customers, that you did not release your splendid and very desirable Nativity Set all at once. Apparently, for reasons of which I am not aware, you chose to release it piecemeal -- a shepherd here, a Wise Man there, a Baby Jesus here, and suddenly a donkey. This is fine. This is OK. I am not going to tell you all how to do your business. However, this particular business model has caused me some headaches, and I feel compelled to let you all know about it.
Y'see, at the cost of bein' a tad verbose, I am currently workin' on a second wife. No, not that way, getcher minds out of the gutter. I mean to say that I am involved with a lovely woman who, as opposed to lookin' over my shoulder on the Reaper website and sayin' "You don't need those. Don't you have enough already? You haven't painted half of what's on your bench," in the manner of my FIRST wife, THIS one is much more apt to say, "Oh, wait, go back... go back... yeah, THAT one! Do you have that one? Could you paint it up for me? Do we need to get another one? Oh, and what's in new releases? What? They're delaying due to the Kickstarter? Did you go in on the Kickstarter? Is it here yet?" In short, my personal home situation is certainly looking up in many ways, not the least of which is miniatures.
Anyway, on one of these over the shoulder shopping situations, she noted that Reaper produced a Nativity Set, and promptly lost her mind and pushed me out of the way and commandeered my shopping cart to obtain the Baby Jesus, the manger, Joseph and Mary, and the barn front with the star on it. Seems her mother is quite fond of such things, and upon seeing this on the website, she immediately decided that we were going to get it and I was going to paint it up for her mom.
I had no objections to this. Solved the problem of what I should get 'er mom, and provided an excellent excuse to sneak Jason Wiebe's latest Santa Dwarf into the order, although my beloved made it quite clear that said dwarf was not going to be offering his tree to the Baby Jesus; her mom is rather conservative, and might not take this the right way, if you follow my meaning. I took this to mean that her mom wasn't one of those who'd put a plastic injection molded Santa in the front yard near the mockup manger, and solemnly decided that the Wiebe Santa would not occupy the same side of the workbench as Jesus and family. So be it.
And when the products arrived in a timely fashion, they were promptly painted up and given (except Santa Dwarf, of course) to my mother in law, who was quite impressed, and absolutely loved 'em. Handpainted nativity set! And so small and compact! And my status as "questionable new in-law" softened to "well, at least he's the same religion we are." And all was well.
The following year, more Nativity goodies were produced, though. My dear one found out about them while raking over the Reaper site to examine the Christmas figures that were offered last year, and promptly ordered the Shepherd, with sheep. A Wise Man was available, but she did not order him, for some reason. This did not bother me; I painted up the Shepherd and his extremely small flock of sheep, and the Mother In Law was pleased, and doted upon them, and missed no opportunity to point out that they were not only made in the USA, but handpainted. By an American. Like I said, I was gettin' the impression that she was rather conservative.
...which brings us to this year.
Y'see, my baby lost it a little over the Halloween Bonesylvanians, and I found myself painting more than a few of these for her. Thing is, she also decided to add the donkey and the two currently available Wise Men to the order, to kick it high enough for free shipping and a Halloween goodie bag. Which meant that in addition to Bonesylvanians, I had some livestock and well dressed Middle Eastern gentlemen I had to get ready for Christmas.
...which was fine... until it was announced that Mama would be joining us for Thanksgiving.
"Honey," my darlin' said to me in that particular inflection of that particular word that invariably means the toilet is clogged, the dog has pooped on the hall carpet, or perhaps there is a spider the size of a small dog in the bathtub, "Y'think we could get those figures painted up so Mama can take them back home with her after Thanksgiving?"
Well, again, this did not bother me much. The figures in question are simple enough, and I figured I could do a one day speed paint, and then go back the following weekend and add all the details and gold trim and stuff, and exactly what color is a donkey? Open up Google Image and find me a donkey... And so I set to work, and the figures fell together well enough.... until I realized that we had kind of a problem here. I think I may have mentioned that my Mother In Law is ... a tad on the conservative side. This was no great issue, though; the figures are certainly traditional enough, none of that nonsense about Rock and Roll Wise Men or Vulcan Jesus or anything... no, the Reaper Nativity is certainly as traditional and historically accurate as anything you'd find in the Vatican. Except for one detail.
Y'see... I was shy a Wise Man.
The Bible, as well as every Christmas special or movie about the life of Christ specifies three wise men. Not one, not four, and not two, excepting that thou shalt then proceed to three, and five is right out. Regrettably, this did not occur to me until the inlaws were already in the house.
Did I point out that this was the first time I'd ever actually MET Mama? I was a tad nervous. After all, I've been living with her daughter for several years now, a thing which I am told that conservative sorts frown upon. That, and the lady is from Nebraska, and resides there now, and Nebraska is well known as a rather conservative place; I am told that to reside in Nebraska, you have to pass a test and then have your sense of humor surgically removed so's you don't rile up the neighbors. And here I was about to hand her TWO wise men... and a donkey. How was that going to look? What was I gonna do?
And so... I made a command decision.
I did a quick glance over the wall full of shadow boxes in the hobby room. Did I have ANYTHING that could pass for an extra Wise Man? Hey, there's one in robes... no, no, he's an Evil Vizier, and I'm pretty sure that among the gifts the Baby Jesus got, a lamp full of purple fire wasn't one of them. How about that one... no, that's Chumley's wizard character, and I'll never be able to get that freehand right a SECOND time... THAT guy? No, he's a Cthulhu cultist, and I'm pretty sure that's sacrilegious on some level... no, not the one that's summoning something... no, that one's a Bathalian... no, that one's a zombie... and that one's female, better not risk it... wait, what about THAT one?
Perfect. I grabbed it off the shadow box, added it to the others, and ran downstairs.
...where my baby presented them to Mama with all due ceremony, and Mama was delighted. "Did I tell you about these little metal figures Doc paints?" said Mama to the assemblage of her immediate descendants and grandchildren. "They're all part of this metal nativity set, and he's been painting them up for me as they come out. And they're made in the USA!"
The collection of Nebraskans looked at Mama's treasures. Then they looked at me. And they sagely and solemnly nodded their acceptance. Nativity sets were good. Not like that satanic Dee Un Dee stuff. And you just can't go wrong with American Made.
And my heart swelled with pride... and my blood suddenly ran cold... as I realized that one of the Wise Men was NOT like the other. I'd grabbed the wrong figure, somehow; instead of grabbing a berobed wizard or cleric, I'd grabbed the figure NEXT to it, and it was most certainly not a berobed ANYTHING, and as soon as anyone took a close look at the figures, I was SO sunk...
About then, my dearest began to bring out the hot dishes, and a distraction was in order; as the green bean casserole hit the table, I began to ponder the possibility of dropping a tray of rolls or something and snatching the errant figurine while everyone's attention was diverted... did I dare? Or did I want her to see a very ODD Wise Man, and be deeply offended, either because I was "funnin' her," or, worse, makin' fun of the Nativity?
And while I was pondering, she suddenly stopped talking, and looked at the Wise Men. She reached over and picked up the exact Wise Man I did not want her to notice.
All conversation at the table stopped. Everyone put down their silverware and craned their necks to staaaaare at the thing in Mama's hand.
And my stomach took the express elevator DOWN. Oh, jeez....
She looked at her errant Wise Man for a moment, then looked at me and said, "Is this supposed to be the Two Wise Men and their brother Billy?"
And then she burst out laughing.
Her eldest son reached over, took the figure, and pushed his glasses down to look over them at it. After a moment, he remarked, "Meshach, Shadrach, and... Bubba?"
And the whole table exploded in laughter.
I blinked twice. Well, it hadn't been the reaction I had been expecting. On the other hand, it beat everyone suddenly leaping to their feet, pointing at me, and screaming "Heretic! Unclean!" or whatever they do in Nebraska. Perhaps my preconceived notions had been somewhat erroneous...
I explained that the figures had been on my workbench, (true enough), and that perhaps I had grabbed them overhastily (true again), and that Reaper had not yet produced the third Wise Man (true as of this writing), and that I seemed to have made a mistake (true, albeit a colossal understatement). And rather than being offended or thinking I was pulling some sort of trick on them, everyone had a huge laugh and Mama announced that Bubba was going to take a trip to Nebraska in order to attend the annual Nativity event atop her piano, at least until a third Wise Man followed the Christmas Star to central Nebraska, albeit tardily. I also got the impression that this is going to be one of those stories that gets told again and again around the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, which I am not sure I'm all that wild about, but it sure beats gettin' burned at the stake or whatever...
Which brings me at last to the point of this letter: Again, not to tell you all your business... but do you suppose you could, y'know, put a rush on that third Wise Man? It may be the only way I'm ever gonna get my Redneck Zombie Hunter back. And now I'm REAL glad I didn't include the bloodstains on his baseball bat.
And while I'm at it, Mama wants this year's Santa Dwarf, too...
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