"The Gift of the Magi" by O.L. Bermann

Keith Olbermann Stuff From 2006 (2005 was accidently deleted)
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"The Gift of the Magi" by O.L. Bermann

Postby Kathy » Sun Dec 17, 2006 4:05 pm

OK, this is my Christmas spoof for KO.org. Hope you like it.

You'll get more out of it if you read this one first, which inspired it:


Call me crazy, but I couldn't just let the holiday season go by with only a Billo version of this classic tale. So here's one written the way someone dear to us might write it.

The Gift of the Magi
by O.L. Bermann

One dollar and 87 cents. That was all. And 60 cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della Young--or, as my brother Chris would have called her, Della "Reese" Young--counted it. Well, OK, Chris isn't really my brother, he's just my former colleague at ESPN, who I have known since 1971 because we went to high school together. I just made that brother part up. Anyway, Della, thanks to the economics of the Bush Administration that favored tax breaks for the rich over the hardworking middle class, had one dollar and 87 cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

That's right, Christmas! No one FORCED her to call it "the holidays"! I don't care what that O. Reilly chucklehead said in his version of this story, which you could probably be reading the same time as this one if you wanted to, but you're not! That whole "War on Christmas" thing was trumped up by that idiot and no one else! But you know what? It's not working, because Slappy's ratings are drooping like a limp falafel while mine are up 55% since late August! Bet THAT really lathers his loofah!

Della completely understood the importance of the season, and she didn’t need a bunch of numbskulls over at the 1984 Channel to beat it into her, either. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Until the cat climbed up into a tree, and couldn't get down, and the guy next door actually came out and SHOOK the tree like crazy until the ill-fated feline was flung out, whereupon it went running for cover to a glass bottle, which the limber-limbed kitty managed to crawl all the way into and back out of again! How do we know? We found this footage of it on the Internets! Let's play Oddball!

OK. Now that you've seen the footage, back to the number-one story of this day. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy a present for her husband Jim, who of course my old colleague Berman would have called "Mighty" Jim Young, or perhaps Jim Young "At Heart," or perhaps even Jim Young "Hearts Be Free Tonight." Regardless--she had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated.

By "expenses," I’m sure she meant she was paying heavy taxes while the upper class pays next to nothing. This is one of the things O. Reilly talks about in his other book as if it were a virtue--well, I'd tell you what else is in it, but the truth is, it makes better toilet paper than it does reading. If you want a good read, get my book, The Worst Person in the World. You'll love it no matter what your political philosophies. If you like me, you'll think it describes the people I wrote about; if you don't like me, well, there are the words "THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD" right there on the cover, next to a picture of me wearing an ill-fitting suit! Get one for your family! Your friends! Your babysitter! The paper boy! It makes a much better gift than those "Holiday Ornaments" Billo is peddling on the Faux News Web site!

Now, there were two possessions of the James Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch, which had been his father's and his grandfather's. I have ancestors who were New York City firefighters, and they relied on their gold watches to tell them what time it was when they were so tired from hanging around waiting to be called to a fire that they didn't even know what time it was, so I can relate to this. The other was Della's hair. Now Della's beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It was gorgeous. In fact, had she been blond, she would have looked a lot like Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago, and to this day, Julie Christie is still one beautiful woman. She fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street. Where she stopped the sign read: well, actually, hmm, what did it read? Some French woman's name. Oh yeah, "Mlle. Charbonnier. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting.

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"Twenty dollars," said Mademoiselle Charbonnier, who, although she used her maiden name professionally, was actually married and, having an extremely handsome baby boy not quite a year old, had to put young Keith down to sleep before coming to assess Della's offering, which she soon did, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della. And soon her hair was short, and what's wrong with that? I bet a lot of people saw her on the street and assumed she was a lesbian because of that. And if she had been, well, what's it to ya? I'm so sick of narrow-minded people like Billo, who would probably be here right now telling you that cutting her hair was only step one; next thing you know, she and Mary Cheney would be having a baby!

The next two hours tripped by on rosy wings, as she ransacked the stores for Jim's present. I wish she had purchased something from Paris, just to get Billo's goat. Can you believe, Skeezix thinks France has lost more than 138 million billion dollars because of HIS so-called "boycott"? If you don't believe it, just read the Paris Review--if you can FIND any such publication! O. Reilly--today’s Worst Storyteller in the World!

Eventually Della found it. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. It was a platinum fob chain, simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation, or bloviation such as that engaged in by certain Fox News commentators, but merely the smallest platinum representation of a baseball dangling from one end, for Jim, like all men of any intelligence, thought of baseball as being as essential to his life as breathing. It was worthy of the Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. "Oh my!" she exclaimed. "With this present, I have truly put the biscuit in the basket!"

She returned home, and awaited the return of her husband for, as she thought of it now, "The Big Show." Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered when he returned home from waaay downtown--BANG. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight. The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only 22--but really, why should that have given anyone any reason to think he wasn't capable of a mature, adult relationship? I'm sure he got fed up with people who looked at him and Della together and asked Della how old her "son" was. SON?! How insulting! Why should anyone have thought that just because Della was 47 years old, she was too old for Jim, or he was too young for her? I've been dating since 1974, and I'm telling you--when the woman in any relationship is beautiful and hot, age is nothing but a number. At least that's how I see it.

Jim stopped inside the door. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was deep, and she didn't think it was playable. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor. You know, almost as if he were Mr. Bush being told that things in Iraq were not going so well.

"It's sold and gone. It went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden, serious sweetness, "but those scoring at home--or even if they were alone--could not ever count my love for you."

Jim's lips were moving, but he was not praying. He drew a package from his overcoat pocket and handed it to Della. White fingers nimbly tore at the string and paper. An ecstatic scream of joy; there lay the Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long through a Broadway window. Now, they were hers, but, alas! The tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone. A quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat. Believe me, living in New York, I can tell you, those apartment walls might as well be made of paper, even in the best places, and before you know it all the old ladies who've been living in the building rent-controlled since about 1957 are yelling at you. (Bad Noo Yawk accent) "Could you KEEP IT DOWN IN THERE PLEASE?" "What are you DOING to that poor woman? Are you BEATING her?" "Oh great! First he opens his mail at 12:30 at night and finds white powder in it and has every cop and every hazmat team in Manhattan traipsing through the place while we're trying to sleep, and now this!"

So, Jim realized he had to comfort Della quickly, and he did. At least in Los Angeles they would have had some space for her to wail in peace. I know, because I lived in Los Angeles for ten years.

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. Della held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal and the tiny baseball seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

"Dell," said he, "I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs."

"Oh, Jim," sobbed Della, "All of our efforts have been for naught. What a miserable Christmas."

Jim smiled, and folded his wife into his arms. "Now, Dell," he said gently. "There's no need for tears. After all, I already got myself what I really wanted for Christmas. I finally found that last Alex Gordon rookie card that was floating around on eBay, and--"

"JIM!" cried Della. "Please don't tell me you bid on another Alex Gordon rookie card!"

"Dell, I can't HELP it!" said Jim. "I'm a completist! And don't worry, it only cost me six thousand--"


"No. Sixty-two hundred. But it was still sealed in a clear rack pack! Do you have any IDEA how rare that--"

"Jim! How in the world can you be so obsessed with BASEBALL?"

"I am NOT obsessed with baseball! Now, if I could just finish," Jim said. "You sold your hair to buy me a watch fob. I sold my watch to buy you those combs--and, well, I got seven thousand for the watch because it was my grandfather's and it was a valuable antique, and the combs cost me only eight hundred, so I could still afford the Gordon rookie card--"

"Oh, REALLY?" said Della. "So this way, I get a gift I can't possibly use, and YOU get a gift you CAN use! Or maybe not use, but at least it's what you wanted anyway! MEN!"

"Della, please calm down!" said Jim. "How was I to know you'd go and do something stupid like cut off your hair?"

"STUPID!?" screamed Della. "How can YOU call ME stupid when I sacrifice my hair to buy you a watch fob for Christmas, and you SELL the watch so you can blow sixty-two hundred dollars on a BASEBALL CARD FOR YOURSELF and a bunch of combs I can't even use anymore? You have got to be THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD!"

"Please, Della!" he said. "Sit down right here. I've just thought up a Special Comment about the true meaning of Christmas that I think you really need to hear about now. You see, in the end," Jim continued, turning to the second camera, "you may feel like a fool, but perhaps you are as wise as the magi. The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. Yet today, their art has been sadly corrupted by the modern forces of commercialism and greed. Here, I have lamely related to you the actions of a foolish junior lover from Wisconsin that have caused alarm and dismay in his wife, and given considerable comfort to himself. And whose fault was that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of holiday greed; he merely exploited it--and rather successfully. Cassius was right. 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.' But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts, those who give unselfishly as you did are the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as you are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi."

And that's the story for this, the 1,325th day since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. I'm O. L. Bermann. Keep your knees loose. Good night, and good luck.

O.L. Bermann first began writing as a journalist in the 1880s, and his talent at writing short sports-oriented stories obtained him a job in sports radio as soon as radio could be invented. After television was invented, he was hired by ESPN to dispense his witticisms on its flagship program SportsCenter. He is now an award-winning commentator, news anchor and best-selling author, whose use of conclusions to his stories borrowed from Edward R. Murrow popularized his characterization as "our modern-day Murrow." When not wearing ill-fitting suits on book covers, pitching paper wads at TV cameras or watching a baseball game, O. L. Bermann enjoys reading about baseball, talking about baseball and writing about baseball.
...if you don't stick up for the freedom of all opinion, eventually the wheel will turn, you'll be the minority and you'll have written the rules by which you yourself are squashed. -- Keith Olbermann

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Postby Marie » Sun Dec 17, 2006 5:20 pm

I'm getting ready to go out, but can't wait to get back and read this!


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Postby Marie » Mon Dec 18, 2006 4:37 pm

This is so good -- much better than the O'Reilly one. You really have to know your
KO lore to appreciate it, though.

I loved the way you worked in all the catchphrases. The parts that made me laugh
out loud were when Della saw the expression in Jim's eyes was deep -- and she
didn't think it was playable; and Jim's "turning to the second camera" during his
Special Comment to his wife. (I hope Keith doesn't do that IRL! :-)


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