Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
1977-1981: I don't fucken remember.
1982-1990: My cousins and aunts and uncles on my mother's side of the family owned all of the property around a lake in Atamansit. Every year we would all gather at my great aunt's and tell stories, sing Christmas Carols, and record the event on VHS. There were a couple of years when my father's parents would come, too. I'm blinded by nostalgia, of course, but apart from my prick of an uncle who would berate his business-arrangement-wife and kid, I remember these being very happy Christmases. We didn't exchange many gifts at these events, mainly stocking stuffers, but even as a kid, I didn't care. I just lliked being around people who were happy.
1992-4: I had about two weeks of vacation from boarding school, and every year I would come home with another student, and my parents would tone down their arguing (they were going through a divorce, and then they were divorced) for the visitor. 1992 my guest was a Saudi Arabian prince who lived in the next room (there are billions of Saudi Arabian princes, I'm told). He bought my parents traditional Saudi Arabian garb, and my parents bought him tacky sweatshirts and jeans (traditional American garb). In 1993, my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend came by for a couple of days. It was ho ho hella awkward.
1995: I had just dropped out of college, which I spent all of Christmas hearing about. Most of my gifts were suited toward me living in Florida, which I no longer did. I also spent the vacation week running a holiday camp at they YMCA. The camgrounds I loved so much in the summer were pretty desolate in the arctic winter, so we ended up mostly watching movies, doing arts and crafts, and playing Capture the Flag.
1996-8: The more immediate part of my mother's side of the family (just her brothers, not any cousins) would get together in western MA to exchange gifts, and go to a restaurant with my nearly housebound uncle. There were always some pleasant times, and a lot of arguing. In 1998, I videotaped the event. Before recording, I checked the camera to see that I wasn't recording over anything important. What I found was my eighty-one year old grandfather and two eighteen year old escorts at an event called Fantasy Fest, where there were all kinds of kinky shit going on. There was a point where my grandfather was making out with someone who I'm near positive was a guy, but my grandfather didn't know that. I haven't picked up a video recording device since.
1999: Being completely in love with my oblivious, homophobic (didn't know that at the time) best friend, I spent much of the holiday with him and his family. We cleaned up his father's warehouse, made each other mix CDs, recorded an EP of songs with my lyrics and his music, had a long conversation about relationships. Seriously, the fact that it took him another seven months to realize I was in love with him makes him borderline comatose.
2000: Having just quit my job selling chocolates in Vermont, I made my first trip back to the Cape in months. My mom and her boyfriend spent the day arguing with each other, even throwing ornaments across the room, which triggered their singing fucken Christmas tree.
2001: I watched the snow from my new apartment with MelissafuckenPlummer. I also headed over to housesit for Zuzu.
2002: My last Christmas spent with my mother's side of the family. My mom's neurotic then-boyfriend, now-husband freaked out because my mom had moved his dining room table over six inches so that my grandfather could fit at the table. Every person in the house spent the day arguing with everyone else in the house, including my Alzheimer's infused grandfather.
2003: The end of my time in Arizona. All I wanted to do was get back to MA. I cooked some Ground Nut Stew for myself, and watched A Very Brady Christmas. I was so absorbed in the show (I was also downloading porn and music), that I forgot I was cooking until the smoke from the burning rice spread to the bedroom. I scraped most of the rice into the trash, but a small amount (cough) made it into the sink, blocking the pipes, causing rice to flow up through the shower when I turned the water on. Did I mention I was staying in a friend's apartment? I made it back to MA in time for New Year's.
2004: My father and I hung out at his house, watching TV and eating too much. There was no exchange of presents (my father is a post-Catholic non-celebratory agnostic), no family drama. I returned home to discover that not only was FOOD included in the RENT at my new apartment, but that my whack ass landlord was an opportunist. During my four day absence, he had let three Chinese teenagers (18/19 year olds) stay in my room, and sleep in my bed. He was befuddled when I seemed upset that I was paying for a room that I couldn't use until three people who were also paying for the room (a single bedroom) got their shit out of it.
2005: I was invited to spend the day with Baker, a guy who was infatuated with me. He cooked kangaroo, and a variety of other delicious foods. We did a Holiday Present swap with his assortment of roommates and friends, we played some games, and hung out for a while. We retired to his room, where he proceeded to do a lot of post-drink vomiting. I declined to make out with him (vomit breath, not sexy), but we made plans to hang out the next week. I never heard from him again.
2006: I did nothing.
2007: The first year where I set out to be alone, to no avail. Zuzu needed help fixing her toilet seat, so I spent an hour or so on Christmas Eve in a position most people reserve for New Year's Day. Of course, I wasn't vomiting, so, point me. When we were done in the bathroom, Zuzu offered to drop me off at Racist Grandma's on her way to Virginia. We left at 11pm, spent the entire time failing to find any decent songs on the radio while Pup Ratzinger sat in the back, alternating between whining and farting.
Christmas was brimming with stank dogs. We got to CT around 1am, where I was assaulted by Frisky, my grandmother's ADD mutt. Once Zuzu took Ratzinger, and headed out, my grandmother filled me in on how my mother keeps hysterically calling her, asking how I'm doing. We haven't spoken in three months, as I told her I wouldn't talk to her on the phone if she insisted on calling me while her deaf, nosy husband was in the room. I don't like listening to people argue over the phone.
On Christmas Day, my grandmother and I watched a Crossing Jordan marathon, ate some great steak, and talked. Everything was low-key until my she looked out her window and saw a bunch of cars across the street. "What are all those people doing over there?" she asked.
"It's Christmas, they're probably having a party or something."
She sucked on her false teeth. "No. I don't like it. They're up to no good."
A few minute pass, and then she inhales deeply, "Safey! Look! There are colored people coming out of that house! I knew it, they're dealing drugs."
"Grandma, keep your voice down." I said, trying not to laugh. "You know those people always carry guns. Do you want to get us shot?"
I figure, since I can't get her to stop being a racist lout, I can at least entertain myself by upping the stereotype ante.
On my way home, the next day, new laptop in hand, I receive the greatest Christmas present I can think of. In the middle of South Station is a gaggle of attractive people, among them, Mr. HotPositive, the man who gave me a rousing round of Applause for Thanksgiving.
Mr. HotPositive and I haven't really spoken since I informed him that he gave me The Applause. In fact, he deleted his Myspace Profile, and changed his e-mail address within a week or so of my notifying him. Needless to say, he didn't look too excited to see me, particularly as he appeared to be surrounded by people he was trying to impress. "Hi?"
"How have you been?" I asked, positively nauseous with champagne voice (sweet and bubbly, with a hint of dryness).
"Uh. I've been okay."
He didn't ask how I've been.
"I'm sorry," one of the obvious fag hags around him said, "I don't think I know you."
"Safey Mode." I said. "Mr. HotPositive and I are" PAUSE OF DOOM "friends. We met" PAUSE OF DOOM "at a poetry event I work at."
"Ooooh." She said. And we small talked about nothing, while Mr. Hot Positive (who has never been to a poetry event in his life) tried to stay away from my eye contact.
After a minute or so of chatter I said, "Well, I really have to get going. It was great catching up with you, though. This was loads of fun." PAUSE OF DOOM. "Hot, positive loads of fun." Then I kissed him on the cheek (I assume his mouth is full of herpes), and walked away.