Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Keeping "Jesus CHRIST!" in Christmas

Man, it's hard to relay the story of my Christmas disaster without sounding all Erma Bombeck. Grandma burned the muffins! Uncle Jeffrey told the same World War II story he's told for years yet always has a different ending. Ralphie shot his eye out! The cat pulled the tree over! Oh, the whole scene was more befitting of a typical day at the Audubon zoo, but all that chaos is what bonds us together in its own strange way. You can surely bet we'll all do it again next year in a heartbeat. The warm, comforting and loving heartbeat we call 'family'. "

And then you'll say, "My! What a delightful romp! Positively madcap!"

Then everyone will vomit. Which brings me to the real story of my Christmas disaster.

Jesus Christ, I fuckin' hate most of these people. No one can try your patience quite like family. It's got to be because because they are blood relatives and that leads you to believe you should have something else in common with them, too. Then it only frustrates you more when Dad walks in the room, puts the TV on "Fox and Friends" and cranks the volume higher than you even knew it could go. Then he tries to have a conversation with you. Yeah. It must be the blood bond that keeps you from shooting the television in the room with him. Even though you saw this disaster coming, literally from 1,200 miles away, there was nothing you could do to stop it. That's frustrating, too. Rearranging the speakers on your surround system so that one would be just two feet in front of his favorite chair and messing with all the balance controls so that like 99.4% of all the sound emanated from that one speaker right in his face... well, that's only more frustrating because it fooled you into thinking you'd found a solution. Hey, for the record, Shepard Smith is totally not irritating at all. It's going to be a great week.

And it was great. We haven't all been together in about ten years, and some of us have had kids since then, so it was actually our first ever assemblage, and it went very, very well.

Well, maybe some things could've been a little better. I don't know. Maybe I'm just being picky.

Oh, when my daughter, who had been looking forward to seeing all these relatives she never sees, woke up at 5AM on Christmas Eve, puked for about eight hours and spent the next two days in bed... I guess that could've gone better.

And one way or another, Mom is going to cook a big pot of meatballs. If there's one indelible memory I take away from this whole fiasco, it's these retarded fucking meatballs that my dear, sweet, goddamned mother had to make.

On her first night here, and as she says once every trip, "I could just make a big pot of fucking meatballs and we can all eat that for dinner." Since her goal is just to make fucking meatballs, she doesn't consider much else, like the fact that no one would be around to eat said fucking meatballs that evening. I politely reminded her that people were going to be scattered about at dinner time, so tonight probably wasn't the night for such a feast. Her reply was, "So you're just gonna knock the wind out of my sails, huh?"

So flash forward about three days. Understand that my kid has been puking now for about six hours, and Mom says, "I could just make a big pot of fucking meatballs and we could all eat that for dinner."

Knowing that I am a complete asshole, I attempt to delicately say, "Mom, I'm just gonna put this out there and I'm not saying anything or nuthin'. Just something to consider. If you've been puking all day, you might not really enjoy the smell of meatballs simmering in a pot all afternoon. That might not be a good mix. I'm just puttin' that out there."

Mom seemed to kind of get it. Kind of. Then she said, "I don't simmer them all day. They cook pretty quick."

"I'm just puttin' that out there. That's all, Mom."

Around 3PM, it's been about an hour since anyone has thrown up in my house. The stomach has just now started to settle. What's that I hear? Why it's the pastoral sizzle of garlic and olive oil in a sauté pan. Ooh, yummy! Now everyone will be happy because Mom is making fucking meatballs.

And what else do I hear? Why it's the call of my wife, informing me that the smell is making my daughter want to skeeve. She's also asking, "What was she thinking?" And, of course, there's no possible explanation.

Not a problem, though. Since I'm on my wife's side here, I didn't take the opportunity to say, "Aren't open floor plans great? That french door idea I had was stupid, huh?" No, I just walked in the bedroom, shut the door and opened all the windows, and let it air out with outside air that was kind of smokey from the fire that everyone asked me to please make. In no time, that room was in the high-to-mid-40's and smelled like a campfire. There. That should have you feeling better, sweetie.

Back in the kitchen, I told Mom someone is getting sick from the smell, and before she can react much, my brother comes in, gives Mom a hug around the side and says, "Mom's meatballs!" It's alright though, because I punched him in the head. For the record, Mom doesn't make great meatballs. They're just fucking meatballs, and they are as average as meatballs come. Even less so, now. An actual meatball recipe would have at least two kinds of meat, and it isn't actually just meatloaf in ball shape. But that's nitpicking, isn't it? The important thing here is that everyone got fucking meatballs which I never ate.

I spent the rest of that night trying to cool down and listening to Fox news at ungodly volume levels. My next words to my dear sweet goddamned mother were simply, "I need to respect that other people do things differently in their homes" and she replied by simply asserting herself. I don't remember what she said, but there was quick mention of the exchange in a bournal entry.

Since my bedroom was quarantined, I spent the night on the couch. As soon as Dad finished watching O'Reily and I tracked down those "extra" blankets my sister just casually walked off with and totally didn't need at all, I laid prostrate on the sofa and kept my senses alert to other signs of the apocalypse, which I figured couldn't be more than like 15-20 minutes away.

It eventually turned into three of the most restful minutes I've had. When you sleep in the living room, you're last to go to bed and second to get up, if you know what I'm saying.

We've got a decent griddle for our stove, and I made a pretty large batch of pancakes which everyone seemed to dig. As long as I didn't have any (and I didn't want them anyway) there was enough batter to give everyone two big pancakes. Worked out well. I cleaned up that whole mess while everyone moved on to loafing around or whatever, and I decided to batch myself up some oatmeal. Score! There's just enough left. Sweet! That's when my brother comes walking in the room eating all the cashews out of the jar of mixed nuts and says, "You cookin' oatmeal?"

For those of you who don't know my brother, or are perhaps unfamiliar with the concept of brother, "You cookin' oatmeal?" is not a question. Also, since he has never prepared his own food ever in his entire life, this is how my brother feeds himself.

"What - I made you a breakfast like an hour ago and now you want to eat mine, too?" Then I punched him in the head. "Go eat those fucking meatballs" I said.

Well, maybe I just gave him the oatmeal.

So Dad comes in the kitchen and asks me, "Where's the bread?" and the odd thing is that I'm standing right next to a countertop full of food, but he's just looking at me. Dad, you ain't that old. The bread is right there. Just direct your glance maybe 12° to the left and down a hair.

And how about this one: "Hey, the fire's out."
Hey, get a fucking log.

Whatever. Maybe I should be flattered. If anyone needed anything, they felt the need to ask me. On the one hand, yes. On the other hand, if the thing you need is for me to wipe your ass, maybe flattery isn't quite what's happening here. Frankly, I wasn't sure, and I was too fried to waste any time thinking about it. Not that I mourn the loss or anything, but my family killed my blournal.

As you can well imagine, I was pretty psyched about the last day. Wife heads out to the car so she can go to work, but the car won't start. She takes the other one, but I have a problem to deal with now, and I still have a sick kid who can't even stand up yet.

That car hasn't had a tune up in quite a while, and it didn't take long to figure out that it needed a new set of plug wires. Since Dad and Bro are serious car geeks, I asked if either of them would go get me a set. I knew this was a huge mistake. Their favorite part of fixing cars is the troubleshooting. Rather than actually getting it done, they much prefer to spend their time imagining what the problem could be.

"Did it crank?"
"How did it crank? Was it slow?"
"Battery's fine. It's not the battery."
"Do your lights come on nice and bright."
"It needs wires."
"Does it crank strong?"

So I walked out to the garage and turned the key. I came back in and said, "It needs wires."

"Are they all routed cleanly? They're not crossed anywhere, are they?"
"No. They all go straight to where they're getting."
"Because if they're crossed, you can get an arc and they short."

And that's where I told them to just forget it and I'll deal with it later somehow. I don't really know how since I don't have a car to get to the store, and even if I did, my kid is still too weak to sit up. And thanks for the fucking help with the one thing I'd asked of you for the entire trip. I'll give you my living room for as long as you want to stay up, you can have my breakfast, I'll make everyone awesome Rueben sandwiches for lunch, I'll set the heat wherever you like even though it's way too hot in here, I'll also keep a fire going, I'll install a new water heater so everyone can have showers, hell... I'll even pick the Christmas gifts you're going to give so all you need to do is dial the phone, recite your card number and your "shopping" is done. Yeah, you're welcome. Say, can someone run to the store for me and pick up a $20 set of plug wires? They take seven minutes to install if you make a game of it and only use one arm. No? Okay. Forget I asked.

Instead, they set up a hairdryer and blasted the wires for 20 minutes while they hung out and drank coffee. The total time spent on this temporary fix was more than it would've taken to get a new set. To this day, I have no idea what the fuck was going on with that.

When the car started, they let it idle in the driveway. I didn't even know the car was running until Dad said, "Your car's been idling for about 15 minutes. You're really low on gas." I have no idea what the fuck was going on with that.

But before he left, Dad backed into my car which he had put in the driveway.

And with that, they were gone.

Almost. I got a call two days later. My parents never did get me anything for Christmas and Dad made me tell him exactly what to get. Well, all I really had to do was look up the phone number for him, tell him the name of the business, give him the model number, tell him how much it would cost, and remind him of my ZIP code. But that's it.

The bottom line in all of this is as ever; I'm an idiot. Next year, people think they're going to try all of this again, except we'll let my brother do the honors. My brother will not lift a finger to do anything for anyone. That's a guarantee. And while it's maybe possible that people won't have nearly the good time they had here, it's also just as likely that they won't notice a difference.


Nato said...

Amazing. Part of me hopes you'll start having your family back more often so you can keep writing about them.

owner said...

Maybe you can have that part removed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe next year, in the spirit of holidays an'all, you could also invite one of your prison pen pals.

owner said...

Jesus, isn't just being imprisoned bad enough?