Ever since I was old enough to have reasonable control of my motor neurons and good sensory perception at my fingertips, I have proudly been a Christmas snoop. With a code.
The central precept of that code: No destruction. This includes ripping off tape, poking holes in the wrapping, etc. Of course, if an opening happens to be there already, it’s fair game so long as it doesn’t get any larger.
The reason of the exercise is not, as has been accused, impatience or greed. Rather, it is simply a place to put my Holmesian (or Sherlockian, as Mr. Nicholas Meyer would have it) genius to use.
And while I have been at this since I was a little-bitty guy, 2005 must go down as the first year I have published my findings for all to see.
*One standard snap-case DVD, not Artisan/Republic or 20th Fox by the lack of cross-bars at the finger-catch (and certainly not Warner Bros, as that would not be a standard snap-case at all). Probably with those added “tear off and discard” (I never do) lock-snaps, which would point toward a Paramount release.
*A card-board slip case I at first assumed to enclose some special-edition book. But, the case happens be the perfect dimension for DVDs, so I took a closer look. It certainly does not include any discs in standard snap-cases, but on running a finger down one side I would say it has several mini snap-cases inside. Consistent with a collection I have been specifically pining for.
*One trade paperback, new.
*One CD, new, in crystal case.
*One (or two) DVD(s) in a distinctive squared-off case, presumably special edition. One suspicion arises here, due to a recent release’s similarly unusual casing.
*One thick, nicely-bound hardcover book. Circa 1935-40 by the thickness and/or wear of the spine corners, dictating a slight lean. Dimensions and binding are consistent with period publications from Harcourt, Brace & Co and Random House, both of which published some good anthologies in that time frame. Lettering direction on spine typical of European editions.
This one indicates the purchaser made a trip to Half-Price Books.
*Three used VHS tapes with cardboard slip-covers, separately wrapped. Also consistent with an excursion to Half-Price Books.
All of this was determined by simple deductions from dimension, balance, and a goodly amount of finger-running. None of my special “tricks.”
No, this time around I didn’t even use the old stand-by of forming dry-ice crystals in the wrapping-paper, rendering it more or less transparent.