So we’ve just passed through what some people claim is The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. However, I prefer to refer to it as, The Time When All The Crazy Comes Out To Play.
You know what I mean. It’s the time when you’re sitting at your sister-in-law’s house opening gifts with your husband’s family, and your brother-in-law is struggling to open a gift from his wife that is covered in tape, and then your sister-in-law says, “Don’t worry, it’s only a three-way,” and then, because you apparently spend all day hanging out with 12-year old boys, you start snorting uncontrollably, which just proves once and for all that you are a terrible example for anyone to follow, most especially the baby that your sister-in-law is due to have any second now.
It’s also the time when people have gathered around the kitchen table admiring something that someone is crocheting for the baby, and then someone pipes up and declares, “I’d be afraid to have a baby these days.” And you wait for them to say something like, oh, the world was much better when I was growing up, and there wasn’t as much violence, or a comment of that nature. But instead they say, “Because I just saw a report on the news where there was one baby born with two heads.” And they are not drunk. Or kidding. And then you wait for them to elaborate on this commentary, but they never do. It’s just, “Hey, two-headed babies are being born. AND YOU MIGHT HAVE ONE.”
Needless to say, this is a FANTASTIC time for me, as someone who has dedicated themselves to The Pursuit Of Crazy. And happily, this year’s Christmas dinner conversation did not disappoint.
But before we go any farther, I need to give you a bit of background.
My dad’s family is from New England, specifically a place that requires getting on the highway and then going north, and then a little bit more north, aaaaaand, oh wait, MORE NORTH!, until there is no more North left in the entire world, and then hanging a quick left. But be careful, and make sure not to hit the moose whose head is sticking through the kitchen window.
It’s a really nice place-lots of clean, open country, clear blue skies, and tight communities. But it is also a really small town, which means that if you were born there, then you’re “in”forever . But if not, then you will never really have any idea of what’s actually going on. Because what this means, of course, is that the “in crowd” has an efficient form of verbal shorthand which makes it easy for them to have conversations, but is kind of a problem for everyone else, as then there is no need for the stories to include such vital information as the names of the people involved, the location where the story took place, the date the story happened, or any other kind of specific, identifiable facts.
So we were all sitting around the table letting dinner settle, and someone started talking about the last time they were up visiting in that neck of the woods. And at first I could follow along because they mentioned their hotel by name, as well as some of the restaurants they’d eaten at while up there. And then things got a little bit more interesting.
“Well,” said my grandfather, “now this is a little bit gory for Christmas,” and we all laughed, thinking that he’d caught himself and was going to change the subject. But no-he went on.
“But you know there was that 30-year old murder up there that never got solved.” (Um, no, but ok.) “Well, the man that worked there up at the place that was on the hill before they built that restaurant, he died a couple years back. And when they went to clean out his house they found a big freezer, and when they opened it, they found her body inside.” (Yep, he was right. GO.RY.)
“Well,” said my grandmother, turning to face my dad, “now didn’t you have a friend who did the same thing?”
The entire left side of the table then contracted simultaneous neck injuries as my aunt (his sister), my uncle, and I whipped our heads around and fixed him the expression of, “Dude-WTF?!”
“Um, no, mum,” my dad replied, “that was squirrels. He kept squirrels in his freezer.” And clearly, this was a story requiring further in-depth investigation, but I didn’t have the chance to ask anything else because the conversation then took yet another interesting turn.
“Oh, well speaking of squirrels,” said my aunt, “you know [family friend, who has starred in other of my family’s crazy adventures, such as this one] hurt his back a while ago and couldn’t get out of bed. But he had squirrels that were eating through part of his house. So every time he heard one of them, he sat up in bed, reached for his shotgun, and started shooting at them.”
“Now that,” she continued, “is one of the reasons that it’s so good to be married. Because then you have someone who will turn to you and say, ‘Why in the world would you think that’s a good idea?’ ”
(As you know, if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, that is a role that my husband is frequently forced to play in our marriage, the most recent example of which took place a couple of days before Christmas.
We had been out doing some last-minute errands, and when we got back I was dying for a soda. My husband went into another room, and I went to the frig to get a drink. We’d just put in a new frig pack, and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get it to open. So naturally I reached for a steak knife (as would you,) and began to jab away at the perforated end of the carton.
Well, the only problem with jabbing a sharp knife into a can of pressurized sodas is the fact that you are jabbing a sharp knife into a can of pressurized sodas. But apparently I am somewhat unfamiliar with the laws governing the physical universe, and so I was completely unprepared for the volcano of Diet Code Red Mountain Dew that erupted all over me, the refrigerator, and the kitchen floor.
Naturally I started to yell, and naturally my husband ran into the kitchen to find me stunned, soaking wet, and clutching a dripping steak knife.
Now, I have known this man for 22 years-or I should more properly say that he has known me for 22 years. So my feeling is that really, he shouldn’t have been all that surprised. But apparently his feeling was more along the lines of, “YOU ARE 39 YEARS OLD. It never occurred to me that I would have to specifically forbid you to stab a can of soda with a knife, but apparently I do. NEVER DO THIS AGAIN.” So, OK-now I know.)
“Oh,” I said, surprised. “I thought you were going to say that it would be good to be married at a time like that, because then you could poke your spouse up in the middle of the night and say, ‘Honey, it’s those damn squirrels again. Get the gun’.”