I HATE stores, malls and shopping in general, and get just about all the clothes and basic equipment I need by mail from a few tried and proven catalogue outfits.
But for all its convenience, mail-order shopping is not without perils. You have to watch what you send for or you could end up on some nut list.
Lately the postbox has been stuffed with catalogues advertising an astonishing array of bloodthirsty stuff. My name seems to have fallen onto a "survivalist" mailing list, and also one for drugstore cowboys.
I don't think L.L. Bean or Cabela's is to blame. Why would they sell a name to competitors?
I blame a small North Carolina outfit from which in a moment of unguarded vanity I ordered an Indiana Jones-style hat off an ad in an outdoors magazine. It's a handsome lid that has occasioned quite a few flattering remarks.
Unfortunately, it arrived along with a small, disturbing sales catalogue offering such accessories as leather bullwhips, chaps and exotic hand-weapons. And even though all I ever ordered was the snap-brim chapeau, now everyone wants to sell me weird stuff.
For the record, here are some things I don't want for Christmas, or any other time.
* A crossbow of any type, particularly not one called "Quick Draw," which promises to shoot "silent arrows from a pistol-size crossbow."
* A push-dagger. One such weapon, dubbed "the urban skinner" by some sicko copywriter, claims to be the only "serious push-dagger available in America," which is encouraging if true.
This murderous device is a small, broad knife with a T-handle. "The wide, hollow- ground blade is razor sharp . . . for cutting or thrusting," says the ad. "An ideal 'backup' weapon for official or unofficial use by law- abiding citizens."
(Pardon me while I whistle the national anthem.)
Nor do I want:
* A Yaqua blow gun, which promises to be "silent, accurate and effective for survival or fun," presumably whichever comes first.
* An Archangel assault holster, with which one may carry a sidearm "in the drop-down position for quick access no matter what your position . . . ."
* Any concealed shoulder, ankle or small- of-the-back holster. I have nothing to hide.
* An "Out of the Trenches" knife that folds up into a set of brass knuckles.
* From the drugstore cowboy catalogue, a pair of genuine exotic water snake cowboy boots for $199.
* Or a pair of powder blue "Hugbunny" stretch jeans with five-pocket styling, navy piping and embroidered back pockets.
* Anything with turquoise on it.
To tell the truth, I can turn to almost any page of any of these publications and find something either unappealing or downright offensive.
From the "Make My Day" collection of one catalogue comes the "when-they-make-you- reach-for-your-wallet" knife, a stainless dagger that fits in with your credit cards. Go ahead, punk . . . .
From the same catalogue, beneath a graphic photo of a hand with a knife stabbing a hand with a pistol, "the ultimate combat knife," which is "a death weapon that backs you up in a fight." It has an "armor-piercing point, skull- crushing pommel, slightly curved handle for thrust or slash."
Nor do I need a field-strip T-shirt, which has instructions on how to break down my favorite weapon imprinted across the chest.
I don't want a concealable, telescoping self- defense baton; a pistol grip for a shotgun; a commando jump sheath for my machete; a commando watch band; or a slingshot of any description.
Just the hat, please, and hold the catalogues.