03 December 2008

re-post from last year's winter solstice

21 December 2007

don't be a drunken wrapper

When I was a teenager, my mother's closest brother, Larry, and his wife, Kay, would have us come to their house for Christmas. It was awful and I hated going, because the couple was usually drunk. Kay was a bit of a ditz (ok that was being generous, she was a huge complex set of pieces of work) and Larry was a huge condescending snob who needed to put others down in order to secure his pompous place of piousness. But my mother loved her brother and so she would ignore most of his oafishness; I'm sure there is a lesson there I am to apply to my own brotherly situation. But not this year, maybe next; but not this.

However, Kay and Larry would provide for tons of comic relief, even if it was unintentional. But I usually was not in a loving accepting benefice mood on Christmas afternoons, imagine that. And it wasn't cuz they were drunken morons, it was cuz they were morons. And I was a teenager, so even less tolerant of morons than usual. Having been around drunks for many years, as I worked at the local VFW; I know that as a general rule mean people make mean drunks, happy people make happy drunks, smart people make drunken idiots, and stupid people make drunk stupidity.

Larry had an interesting method behind his present wrapping. He'd go down to his basement bar and fix himself a drink. Drink it and clear off a section of the bar for the presents, and keep his drink freshened (often meaning that he would finish the one and mix another, cuz really, ya can never get the portions of various alcohols just right when trying to freshen a drink; like the waitress that tops of your coffee which you have just now gotten the right ratio of coffee, sugar, and cream right before she adds a dollop of coffee, thus throwing off your ratios and undoing your carefully achieved balance). Larry would then clear a section for wrapping paper, tape, scissors, and gift tags. He'd drink some more and then decide he needed more wrapping paper cuz there is an awful lot of presents. Once he added more paper to the pile, he'd drink a few more drinks just to get festive, doncha know. He may decide to find a radio station of Christmas music, or attempt to do so only to settle on a station which blares rap (which Larry mistakes for very contemporary Christmas music); please keep in mind this was in the mid to late 80s, when rap was a different breed than what we have now.

Larry then lays out some wrapping paper from one side of him, and chooses a present from the other side. He proceeds to wrap and dance in place and screech along with misconceived lyrics, while merrily throwing the drinks back, which are now mostly alcohol and less mix cuz it is too much trouble to worry about additives like ice, oj, or soda. Within a very short time, Larry has run out of presents to wrap and yet has tons of wrapping paper left. So he begins to wrap items which are easily at hand, just to use up the paper, cuz he couldn't have made a mistake and mismanaged his paper/present ratio, now could he? Half emptied bottles of creme de menthe, rock and rye, and wild turkey sport gaily sledding santa's and snowmen and elves.

Now Larry is no longer using a glass, but is swilling straight from the bottle. Now he is no longer even attempting to sing with the lyrics, but is muttering along with an internal monologue. Now he has run out of paper, so is rummaging through the dirty clothes of the neighboring laundry room (this is the basement after all) and using the soiled shirts to wrap his willy-nilly items he has continued to grab from around the basement, a hastily emptied ashtry, an empty bottle of bleach, and oh look! there is the trash pile waiting to go out to the drive to await pick up. There is bound to be some good stuff in there!

Larry has now discovered that he had forgotten to appropriately tag the gifts. So, he sloppily scrawls names and tapes them haphazardously amongst the strewn odd assortment of presents. There are a few items which receive a few tags, for folks that may or may not be in the same country, let alone the same household. He has had a blast, but now, oh his aching head, now, his body is completely wrecked and he heads to bed.

Christmas afternoon finds him hustling around the kitchen and then look! it's his baby sister and her family! He ushers us downstairs, and flicks on the lights, only to have the evening before come rushing back with the sight of sickly strewn gifts and even the handle for the beer tap has been wrapped in a sock with duct tape. He covers his dismay with extra bluster, as tho he intended to do exactly this all along. He waves us all over to the heaped with trash bar, and settles us in with offers of beer, drinks, and then discovers that he cannot find the bourbon, whiskey, vodka, tequila, or any other relevant bottle.

So Judi asks for the funniest gift we have ever given or received. I can't really say, but I'm sure that it is one that has been wrapped by Larry. It may have been the dead dog's half gnawed bone.

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