Sam Venable 

Department of Irony

Now, Where Did I Hide It?It  would be a lot easier to give a gift to my wife on Valentine’s Day—any other holiday, for that matter — if I didn’t:

1. Acquire these things in advance.

2. Have so many convenient hidey-holes around the house.

Concerning Number One: I don’t shop like normal people, meaning at the appropriate time of year. I just buy stuff on impulse, whenever I happen to see it, regardless of season.

If I’m in a store on, say, August 5 and spot something I think Mary Ann would like for her birthday the following July 4, I get it right then. And hide it.

Which leads us to Number Two: Where the %$#! did I stick the %$#! thing?!

Consider a series of events from last Christmas. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, I made book-signing rounds at a variety of retail venues. At several of these places, I acquired trinkets for Mary Ann. Each went into the witness protection program until Christmas Eve.

“No problem,” I remember smugly thinking as we drove home from midnight Mass. “I’ll send her to bed, and then Santa Sam will get to work.”

Ha. I nearly tore the house apart. For naught.

Seriously. After an hour of furious hunting, I had (a) found nothing and (b) lost every smidgen of Christmas spirit imparted at church.

The worst part about a situation like this is you can’t vent audibly for fear of waking Mrs. Claus. Ask any Type-A. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to squeak out a 10,000-megawatt tirade under your breath.

Spent and defeated, I quit. I started upstairs, wondering how I was going to explain this nuttiness in the morning — when it abruptly dawned on me that I’d removed everything from one favorite hidey-hole to another a few days earlier!

Yep, there they were. I wrapped, taped and deposited them, with a thud, under the tree.

Which brings me to my, uh, “present present” crisis. Somewhere, I have a Valentine’s Day gift for my beloved. I know this for a fact. I know exactly what it is. I can tell you the day and place I bought it. There are witnesses.

I just can’t remember—gad-nabber-whip-snit-chapahooey!— where I hid the pea-picking thing!

Oh, well; at least time is on my side. There are still a couple of favorite hidey-holes to check.

But if—worst case scenario—you encounter some idiot in the wee hours of Valentine’s Day, cursing quietly to himself and pawing through mounds of leftover gift junk at an all-night store, don’t say a word. Just keep walking.

Cupid Venable won’t be in the mood for small talk.

Sam Venable is an author, entertainer, and columnist for the Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel. He may be reached at