Monday, January 16, 2012

December 13, 2011 The 2000 Christmas Letter

Once we realized the Y2K bug was just computer geeks over-reacting, this year didn't seem to live up to the new millenium hype. But it sure did fly by, and it isn't just the fact that I'm getting older because I've heard young people same the same thing….really…I swear I did! This year went by so fast, I didn't realize it was already the holiday season…so now I'm spending Christmas Day writing this ridiculous letter. SO LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN!!!!

I began the New Year by DJing at Joltin' Joe's Bar. My friends Nick & Joe Pezzuto own the place. I have DJed there all year long. It is a great job. I get to watch hot young girls get drunk and dance in front of me….and I get paid too. I should have started DJing years ago. One night some strippers….oops, I mean exotic dancers were there working as Bud Girls for the bar's golf outing. I actually got a $5 tip from this hot blonde with a great …ummm...mind….for playing a song for her. I made her tuck it into my G-string that I just happened to be wearing. (Sorry for that visual). If this would happen a few hundred more times I think I'd break even with the strippers of the world.

I spent the first three months of the year working on a birthday present for my mom. It was a book of pictures and stories from friends and family. I received some great stuff from everyone who contributed. Thank you for taking the time. She loved the book and Georgie created a web site of the book at check it out if you haven't already.

Over Easter weekend, Chris & I decided to go hiking at Sleeping Bear Dunes in northern Michigan. This was to prepare for a trip to Alaska, where we also planned to go hiking. We stopped at several cities along Lake Michigan to photograph the old lighthouses. Now I'll admit I'm a sucker for old-fashioned Americana…so we stopped at The Dutch Village in Holland. It consisted of a few buildings (presumably of Dutch origin), a giant concrete stork with a diaper hanging from it's mouth where you could sit and be photographed appearing as either a baby or a stupid shit for stopping here, and a place to put on wooden shoes and carry milk buckets. (which Chrissy refused to do.) Christy was laughing at me for suggesting we stop there, but I was determined to find the hidden fun at the Dutch Village. After an hour of searching, half of which was spent on a merry go round that didn't stop until our yelling woke up the 100-year-old operator, we left wondering why anyone would pay $7.95 to visit this place.

In May, we made another trip to Alaska. We spent four days in Juneau. We went hiking in the mountains around town. While hiking, we rarely came across anyone else. It was absolutely beautiful and amazing to feel like you're the only people on Earth. While hiking up the mountain over the Mendenhall Glacier we saw porcupines, eagles and a mountain goat. We also heard animal cries, which we thought, were some kind of mountain lion. This kind of spooked us, since it seemed to be closing in on us. When we got back we recreated then sound for a park ranger…turns out it was a grouse. We really need to get out of the suburbs more. We hiked the 6 miles to the Herbert Glacier, which is the only way to get to it. After walking through the rain forest we came into a valley surrounded by snow covered mountains, the Herbert is a hanging glacier at one end of this valley. We sat down on the glacial silt and ate our sandwiches (from a NYC deli in Juneau) with the greatest view of any eatery in the world. That hour or so, was worth the cost of the whole trip. We spent the next week on a cruise that included kayaking through the icebergs in Southeastern Alaska. We saw bears, whales and sea lions everywhere. I think we saw porcupines almost every day of the trip. They really didn't pay us much attention, one day a porcupine lead us down the trail we were hiking on for a few hundred feet, then stopped & posed for pictures. I think he then told us "to piss off, for Christ's sake, I'm just a porcupine! Go bother a bear or an eagle! God Damn tourists!"  Sometimes Mother Nature can be as rude as a homeless person on the NYC subway, at least we felt at home.

In July, Chrissy had her 20 year high school reunion. Of course the anti-social one would never have gone except Karen made her go to it. When we walked in, Chrissy said "Who the fuck are these old people? They look like my parents!" I obviously agreed. Karen & Jim found us at a table all alone. Thank God Jim, even though he is a dad now, is still a blast to hang out with. He spent the night antagonizing people he didn't know, much to my enjoyment. At one point, Karen said one of the nicest things anyone ever said to me. Chrissy was catching up with the one person she hoped to see, her friend Roberta. And Karen turned to me and said, "Besides me, you are the best thing that ever happened to Chrissy." Which is what I've been telling Chrissy for years, but she just says, "SHUT UP FATBOY!" Apparently Chris had been drinking way too much at the party, because only blocks from our house, she made me stop in the parking lot of the Hammond Times and hiked up her skirt….I know all my buddies are going "ALRIGHT GREGG! And YOU DA MAN!" but that didn't happen. She peed in the lot and then we just drove home.

In August we went on a 10 day coaster trip with my brother, George. 10 days with Geo & me, 24 hours non stop…. I'm sure Chrissy's dreamed of vacations like this her whole life. It actually went very well. We rode more than 40 coasters in over 10 parks. The highlights were the small old-fashioned parks, Holiday World, Kennywood, Hershey Park, Conneaut Lake, Knoebels, Lakemont Park. Despite the hype of giant steel coasters, we loved the old & new woodies. We nicknamed it our WEEK WITH WOOD… it applied in more ways than one. At Kennywood in Pittsburgh, we were on line for one of their classic wooden coasters by the midway when Georgie yells "Oh good Lord…Please help me!" I turned around to see a thousand high school cheerleaders competing on the Midway. They were all in their little sweater tops and short skirts. This, of course, made Georgie relive comments like… " Mr. Ott please step away from the fourteen year old!" and "Kinko, Kinko the kid loving clown, if the kids would love him back, he'd never wear a frown!"

I've had blonde streaks put into my hair several times in the past. My 9 year old nephew, Kyle, wanted his hair done like his cool uncle. So I took him with me to the hair salon. This led to one of those moments of clarity that occur when time stands still for a brief moment. We both had those rubber helmets on with our strands of hair pulled through it and covered in the bleaching compound. We were sitting under those giant women's hair dryers with magazines on our laps. I looked over at him and he just smiled at me. The complete absurdity of how we must have looked amused me to no end. I just smiled back. It made me realize that someone looked up to me the way I did to my uncles when I was a kid. Then I realized that I was the cool uncle that took Kyle to a beauty salon to have his hair done. Oh my God, a whole school of elementary kids think I'm Kyle's gay uncle….I can hear the wood shed jokes now.
In December, we went to NYC with our sister-in-law Patti. We covered all of Manhattan in a few days, Christmas shopping & sight seeing. Of course the highlight of the trip was dinner at my Aunt MaryAnn's. We had ravioli with chicken & veal cutlets along with several other dishes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Grandpa Ott is doing fine. I only saw the top of his head most of our visit because he was concentrating so hard on a plate of food whenever I was around. But I heard he told Patti to have a seat on his couch then said " I haven't had a girl on the couch in years." With Chrissy & Patti sitting with him in the basement, He was reported to have yelled up to Maryann " I've got two girls down here!" I guess that means he is doing just fine…DAMN…he's doing better than I am! Terri's fiancĂ©, Carmine won me over easily. He recommended the Fortunato Brothers bakery in his neighborhood. The cannolis there are more satisfying than sex. And the Italian cookies make for some great foreplay. Another highlight of the trip was the day we spent sightseeing in Brooklyn with Freddie & Maryann. We toured from Brooklyn Heights to Coney Island…had a Nathan's hot dog and said goodbye to the Thunderbolt coaster which was torn down to build a baseball stadium. We also watched our wedding video thanks to Grandpa. Well, if we didn't feel older & fatter after seeing that video….I made the comment that the cute little flower girl in the video was now watching our house while we were in NYC….this getting old thing really sucks. How is it that she grew up and I haven't?

I'm writing this on Christmas Eve. Last night, I brought home White Castle sliders after DJing. I woke Chris up at 2:30am and we had sliders together. True Love. This morning, I awoke to the smell of Chrissy cooking lasagna and stuffed shells. For breakfast we had the Veal Paglia, Penne Porcini and stuffed chicken leftovers from Café Borgia. To really push home the Christmas spirit, we played name that tune by farting Christmas carols. (Can you believe some people actually ask for this newsletter?) Tiguak, the polar bear cub that Chrissy hand raised, is doing fine. She weighs over 220 pounds and is only 14 months old. She now has a friend, Eddy. He is on loan from the Quebec Zoo. The mom, Arki, had another cub in early December. So far she is raising that cub. That is our baby news for the year.
Our concert list this year included Prince, who was great but he is so short we couldn't see him and we were only 20 feet from the stage, the BoDeans, the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, Rancid and the Smashing Pumpkins…a moment of silence please. Even though my hair was blonde and Chrissy's was purple, we were easily spotted as the oldest people at the Warp Tour this year…but we did get to meet the Bosstones, which was cool. We also saw some plays. Anne Get Your Gun, Sound of Music, Scarlet Pimpernel were the better ones. Blast!, which we dubbed revenge of the band geeks or band geeks on acid, was very entertaining.

Thunder seems to be getting along on his painkillers most of the year. But he has lost 40 pounds since the summer. This has brought comments like…"I found Thunder's lost weight…it's on Gregg!" The vet says he is OK but he is a bag of bones. Chrissy started calling him Dead Dog Walking…which I think is very mean. That girl is just heartless. Thunder told me he agrees…he tells me lots of things, which I can't repeat… this is getting very Son of Sam-like. Huh…what did you say Thunder? I gotta go now. Thunder says Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.

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