Next year, how

Greg Bean

Well, one more holiday season is nearly gone, and once again I’ve failed when it comes to having the perfect decoration for my living room window — a beautiful gal leg lamp like the one in “A Christmas Story.”

My wife and I saw the movie when it first came out — it was 1983 and we’d been married just over a year — and I remember watching in awe as Darren McGavin, The Old Man, gleefully uncrated his Major Award while Mrs. Parker, played by Melinda Dillon, looked on in unmitigated horror.

“I have to have one of those!” I whispered in her ear. “It’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen!”

“Not if you live to be a thousand,” she whispered back. “What we need is a crèche, and maybe some bubble lights.” She finished her statement by sounding a theme that would reappear often in our marriage. “And quit talking during the movie. I hate when people talk during the movie.”

That year, as I recall, we didn’t have many holiday decorations because we were newly married and hadn’t started accumulating. All we had were some red and green balls left over from my parents’ aluminum tree, a chipped ceramic Santa that my wild, substance-abusing cousin had cast and painted during a rehab workshop, and one of those revolving color wheels that kept overheating and tripping the circuit breakers. Our tree was a spindly refugee from the American Legion lot ($5) with one completely bare side and a trunk so crooked the tree kept tipping over.

I wired the tree to the wall with an eye-hook and some 30-pound test fishing line to keep it from crashing down and squashing the cat (an animal she brought to the marriage — I’m not a cat person), but the color wheel made it more frightening than festive. When it was turned on, the squeaky wheel made the living room look like the movie representation of a bad LSD experience. You half expected Peter Fonda to come lurching through on his way to the refrigerator for a beer and a slice of cold pizza. Even the cat hated it, and hid behind the couch. The baby cried.

It was my opinion that a leg lamp would be the perfect artifact to begin our family collection of holiday decorations, but I was frustrated on two accounts. First, at that time you couldn’t really find a leg lamp like the one in the movie, and second, there was my wife’s adamant refusal to allow a leg lamp in her home, even if you could find one.

Every year since, I’ve pressed my case when it comes time to decorate, and while she’s given in on small fronts (the buffalo skull with red ornament eyeballs, my collection of Marilyn Monroe tree ornaments and the stuffed trout festooned with garland, for example), she’s held the line on a leg lamp.

This year was particularly maddening. One morning, early in the holiday season, I was watching Matt Lauer as I dressed for work and he was interviewing a guy who ran a company that made leg lamps just like the one in the movie ! They were beautiful reproductions, and all I’ve ever dreamed of. I scribbled down the name of his company and found it on the Web. That night, I carefully floated the idea of a leg lamp over dinner.

“Are you a thousand years old?” my wife asked when I’d finished.

“No,” I said. “Although some days I feel like it.”

“I didn’t think so,” she said. “By my reckoning, you’ve still got about 946 years to wait before I’ll even think about it.”

And there you are. No leg lamp this holiday season, and if I wait for her to give in, the prospects for next season, and the one after that, aren’t a whole lot better.

That’s why I figure it’s time to bypass my spouse entirely and make an end run. It’s time to go right to the big guy. So, Santa, if you’re out there, how ’bout bringing me one of those lamps next year? I promise to be very, very good, and I’ve even done the research for you.

At a company called Red Rider Leg Lamps, for example, you can order from a whole range of leg lamp products, and have them delivered to your home. They’ve got leg lamp night lights, leg lamp light strings for the tree, Major Award Certificates, Major Prize Telegrams and, of course, the actual lamps. The 45-inch standard leg lamp sells for $139.99 and the 53-inch deluxe model is $174.99. Shipping is $45 if the leg lamp comes in a standard cardboard box, and $195 if it comes in a full-sized wooden crate stamped FRAGILE like the movie.

At a company called Leg-lamp.com, you can find a whole range of products including leg lamp Christmas stockings, Old Man Talking Action Figure With Lamp, Frageelay T-shirts and leg lamp tree lights. You can also find the actual lamps in sizes ranging from the 20-inch model at $69.99, to the 53-inch whopper of a leg lamp at $269.99. Shipping is about $45, but the company apparently does not offer the wooden crate option.

Those are very nice products, but in my estimation the Cadillac of leg lamps is offered by a company called One Leg Up (on the Web at www.theleglamp.com), which bills itself as “The Original Manu-facturer of Leg Lamps Since 1994.”

At One Leg Up, you can not only find a nice assortment of leg lamps in various sizes, you’ll also find a cornucopia of custom shades. I particularly like the one in faux leopard skin with long black fringe. The lamps are priced competitively with other companies. Cardboard box shipping is $75, and shipping in a wooden crate is $175.

This company, however, offers something the others don’t. For the low, low price of $339.95 (marked down from $439.95), you can order the Signature Series Special Edition. Included in this grand package are a leg lamp, custom gold silk shade with fringe, Major Award Certificate, Certificate of Authenticity and wooden crate complete with excelsior straw (can be used as a display stand). To top it off, the lamp is AUTOGRAPHED by the five actors who played kids in the movie — Peter Billingsly as Ralphie, Ian Petrella as Randy, Scott Schwartz as Flick, Zack Ward as Scut Farcus, Yano Anaya as Grover Dill, and R.D. Robb as Schwartz!

When the subject is leg lamps, that’s as good as it gets. So whaddaya say, Santa? Purty please?

Gregory Bean is executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. You can reach him at gbean@gmnews.com.