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Red Sugar Cubes

She found the spirit of the holidays outside a cocktail

During my last holiday season before sobriety, I tried hard to infuse myself with the spirit of giving and service, hoping that charitable activities would alleviate the malaise that hovered over me day and night. I spent about five minutes considering which volunteer activities would offer the greatest amount of satisfaction for the fewest unpleasant tasks. I decided to volunteer with the SPCA, standing in front of store windows at a department store to encourage people to adopt puppies that flopped around in shredded newspaper in the windows where mannequins usually stood. Had I been a little taller, thinner and more attractive, I could have been mistaken for one of the missing mannequins, as I stood in front of the puppy windows, thinking a lot more about my shoes and makeup than the homeless canines.

The gig was great for the first hour, but then my four-inch heels started bothering me and it was getting cold out. I glanced down the sidewalk and saw all the other volunteers cheerfully enumerating the many benefits of dog ownership. I wondered how many of them wanted a drink and figured that probably all of them wanted a drink real bad. I reached into my purse and felt my pack of cigarettes, thinking what a handy substitute for a cocktail they would be right now. But I knew the pet adoption officials would not approve my puffing in front of the puppies. My public relations smile gradually dimmed and became a grim expression of complete boredom. A little while later, I couldn't take it anymore and made up an excuse to leave the five mutts. After all, I had done such a great job for the time I had been there, and had put so much effort into having a proper holiday appearance, that I deserved to be excused early. I crossed Union Square over to a different department store. They have a nice wine bar on the top floor.

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