Friday, February 10, 2012

December 26, 2011 The 2007 Christmas Letter

I know some people really look forward to reading this stupid Christmas Letter every year, sorry to disappoint you. There will be no Christmas Letter this year. Let me explain, my mother had her DNA tested and it turns out that we are Jewish. (That explains Georgie’s gift giving over the years) We belong to the Ashkenazi Jewish Mitochondrial Lineage. Therefore welcome to the Inaugural Hanukkah Letter. SHALOM!!!  Oy vey, this letter is always a pain in my tokhes. And this year it is later than usual because Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, global warming is a myth and we have to invade Iran to protect Iraq. Wait, those are someone else’s stupid excuses. My excuse is…drum roll please…for the first time in 20 years I spent Christmas with my family. It’s true. We actually went to California to spend Christmas Eve with my Aunt Pat because she has Christmas at her house for the family. And every year she says “when are you coming for Christmas? I may not be around for many more.” She finally guilted us into visiting. Every year I hear the commotion over the phone, it was wonderful to be in the middle of it. I love family gatherings like this one. Kathy’s daughter, Kelly, sang a spine tingling version of ‘Silent Night’. Hopefully my cousin’s kids will remember Christmas at their Grandma’s as fondly as I remember it at my Grandma’s. Another highlight was lasagna dinner at mom’s house followed by 3 hours of watching old slides with commentary by her three sons. The laughter went on all night. The trip ended with mom hugging goodbye to us in front of her house, then saying as she walked inside “Now I have to put all this Christmas crap away!” By now you must have put away all your Christmas crap too, so pour yourself a drink (alcohol makes this funnier, trust me I’m shitfaced when I write it), relax and following the bouncing ball as we sing along to the past 12 months.

   On New Year’s Day, we met Debbie at her parent’s house. Deb & I have been friends since living across the street from each other since junior high school. We have shared amusing stories about our fathers ever since. It was a nice family get together. Her Greek grandmother, YaYa was telling stories about the old country. Her brother Marty’s kids were well behaved. Then the inevitable happened. While cleaning up the kitchen, Deb threw away the polish sausage appetizers she had left on the counter all day. Her father saw them in the garbage and started yelling “who threw away the sausage!” Deb argued for a moment, and then gave up as he took them out of the garbage and put the sausage in the fridge. I laughed because it wasn’t my dad, Deb got embarrassed because it was her dad. And for those who think I don’t care about kids, on the way out I told Marty’s boys, “next time you come to Grandpa’s don’t eat the polish sausage.” See I do have a heart.

   I went skiing in Utah. It was my first time on a real mountain. Despite a few nasty wipeouts, I had a good time. There were nine of us sharing a condo on the mountain. I skied with Walter & Eric. Rick and his ‘boyquarium’ snowboarded together. Overall it went pretty well. Walter likes to equip himself with all the latest gadgets, so he has a ski helmet with speakers in it and a plug for his I Pod. This leads to conversations on the lift with Walter saying very funny things inappropriately loud causing husbands and/or boyfriends to give us nasty looks. One day we were eating outside at a cafĂ© on the mountain. The kids working the grill had music playing and we were singing along. After lunch, Eric & I are putting our skis on and Walt is already dressed and heading for the lift yelling “He’s got big balls, she’s got big balls but I’ve got the biggest balls of them all!!” As everyone stopped and stared at my oblivious friend, I realized he wasn’t bragging, he had an AC/DC song playing on his I Pod.

In March I flew to California for my Mom’s 60th Birthday Party. It was a surprise party but since we held it at her house, I surprised her the day before so we could get the house ready. The party was a good time. I love spending the day partying with family and friends. The next day, it was just my parents and me. Of course this would lead to something strange. But wait, we decide to see the movie “Reign O’er Me” at 2pm. This seems normal. At 1pm ma tells dad to get ready. So I go upstairs to grab some socks & shoes, wash up & take a dump. While on the toilet, I hear the garage door opening and the car starting. I yell “WTF” out the window and my mom yells “let’s go!” I grab socks & shoes, start pulling my pants up run down the stairs out the back door thru the garage and down the alley holding my shoes, trying to put on a sock while holding my unbuttoned pants up. They slowed down enough for me to jump into car thru the back window. When we got to the mall, 10 minutes later, I’m still getting dressed in the car. They jump out and start running (OK, running might be an exaggeration) to the theater. I lose them in the crowd and have to ask a non English speaking groundskeeper where the movie theater is? When I find my parents, it is 1:20pm. They are smoking outside the theater and when I ask what the hell we were rushing for and what are we going to do for the next 40 minutes? My mother says, “We can make fun of you for that toilet paper sticking out of your pants!”

In June, we went to California for my little brother Georgie’s wedding. The trip had many highlights… bringing my Aunt Maryann & Uncle Freddie to the Delgado’s house and finishing 2 bottles of wine before noon…walking around the San Juan Capistrano Mission with my Aunt Nora and realizing through her the religious power a place like that holds…hiking along the tidal pools to the sea caves at Dana Point with my cousin Karen and niece Kristian, nephews Kyle & Kennedy, who could tell me what underwater creatures we were seeing…the rehearsal dinner talking with Marcy’s parents and though she won’t admit it, she is just like her mother…everyone enjoying the “Dysfunctional Family” photo book I made to introduce Marcy to the Ott family…Marcy marrying George anyway...having family together at the wedding…best man Rick’s speech, that is true friendship…drunk groom Georgie causing hotel security to break up the after party in Rick’s room…the party at mom’s the day after the wedding…riding the waves at Newport Beach with Kennedy, Kyle & Kristian while the pelicans dive bombed for fish all around us…drinking wine and watching the Tony Awards at 1am with Mr. Delgado and him saying to me “How gay is this?” After I left for home, Chrissy stayed in Cali. She offered to watch George & Marcy’s cats at their condo while they were in Las Vegas for the honeymoon. I guess Georgie gave her all these crazy instructions about feeding & caring for Mickey & Shady. Chrissy called me to say my brother is nuts. She ignored the instructions, fed and treated the cats like a sane person would and they were fine. As she is yelling at me about my brother not being able to take care of these cats properly she says Mickey & Shady aren’t the only pussies Georgie doesn’t know how to treat right. Chrissy continues (and this is why I love the girl) “He has 6 tubes of Astroglide in the nightstand next to the bed. Maybe I should leave a list of instructions for him.”

In July, I went to NYC to see Coney Island for the last time. Oh, I’ll be going there again, but it will never be the same. A developer has bought most of the land between the Cyclone and the baseball stadium.  He is currently fighting with the city over land use issues. Coney Island has a seedy charm that I have loved since my grandfather took me there as a kid. Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, Gregory & Paul’s food stand on the boardwalk, the greatest coaster in the world, the relentless Cyclone, two and a half minutes of uncontrollable thrills, the old time ‘freak’ shows and the hawkers on microphones trying to convince you to “try your luck”, “bump your ass off” or “shoot the freak”. There just aren’t places like this anymore. It would be a shame if Coney Island joined the long list of beachfront amusement parks that were ‘improved’ by condos and hotels. My cousin Patty and her daughters Karissa & Cori met us in NYC. I spent seven days with four women in New York. We shopped, ate and walked our way through the city. We laughed at Cori doing a Brooklyn accent, we cried at the 9-11 Memorial museum, we enjoyed riding the Cyclone five times with the girls screaming in front of us every time. After seeing Rent, we had a midnight dinner at Junior’s Diner. The girls were all dressed up for our night out. The waiter, Lamar, a very good looking young man, looked around the table at Patty, Chrissy, Cori & Karissa, then turns to me and says “Brother, you must be doing something right.” My week summed up perfectly.

One day, while riding my bike on the single track trails at Sweet Woods Forest Preserve, I spotted an all white deer down by the creek. I circled around to get a closer look and found the albino deer in a clearing with 3 other deer. I was mesmerized by the strangely beautiful animal. Over the years of riding in the woods, I’ve come across hundreds of deer. They usually freeze and stare back then run or they run immediately. While staring at the white deer, I didn’t notice the other three deer form a line and start walking toward me. I swear they were protecting their friend. I thought they would stop but kept coming toward me looking more menacing with each step. As they kept moving toward me, I thought about the commercial where the guy is yelling at a deer that is attacking him, You’re supposed to be docile!” I started to get nervous. When the 3 deer got within 10 feet; I turned and pedaled away yelling “You’re supposed to be docile!”

Every year for Halloween, Chrissy buys a ton of candy and I hope a bunch of kids will show up. Every year about 10 kids show up. I get so mad that parents won’t let their kids go trick or treating. WARNING: Bitter Old Man story coming up. When I was a kid, our group of 5 or 6 unaccompanied kids used to trick or treat through our neighborhood and several others until the bag got so heavy that we had to accept a ride  from strange men dressed as clowns, priests or mimes just to get our candy home. Then we ate all the candy and guess what…we all lived. So this year I decided to dress up in a costume to spread some Halloween cheer. I put on one of my adult diapers and a chef hat. I was the Pampered Chef. I thought it was funny. Some of the neighborhood moms didn’t. They yelled things like “don’t take any candy from that SOB”, “get the fuck away from my kids you pervert” and “I didn’t see this address on the child molester registration website”. I did have a young black mom from the next block mumble to her friend something like “that crazy white boy could put his meat in my oven”. So it wasn’t all bad. But then the cops showed up and told me to either put on some pants or stop handing out candy. Chrissy says she’ll take off of work next year to hand out the candy.

   In my never ending efforts to add culture to my niece & nephew’s lives, we took Kristian & Kyle to Millennium Park for the Sights & Sounds of the Arctic exhibition. It was advertised by the Chicago Park District as the sounds of the arctic (glacier’s cracking, whale & walrus sounds, etc.) accompanied by a video protesting global warming. It was a chilly November night so we bundled the kids up. We had a big bag of popcorn and left over Halloween candy. The sounds were already playing when we took our seats and waited for it to get dark enough for the movie. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting, a family sitting in an outdoor pavilion with sodas, dipping our hands into a big bag of popcorn, eagerly waiting for the movie to begin. Let’s be honest, if it ended like that, it would never make a newsletter like this. It turns out to be an art film. Not a good art film, the shitty kind we all ridicule. Poorly shot images of the arctic with words of protest written like graffiti on the ice. It got worse; a completely naked pregnant woman is superimposed walking on the ice. I get that she is Mother Earth, but we are in a public park and full frontal nudity of an extremely unattractive and extremely pregnant woman is a bit much. After a scene with some birds & walrus, here comes Mother Earth again & again. I kept saying to Chrissy “Jesus not her again”. When she appeared for the 5th time, six year old Kristian yells out “Oh my God, How many times?!!!” People around us started laughing and most began leaving. Then Mother Earth appears on her back with her knees up high and I swear to you, I thought they were going to show her giving birth. They didn’t, just a baby crawling on the ice. After the movie, I asked sixteen year old Kyle what he learned from the movie. His reply shows what a positive role model I am. He said, “If you are going to make a shitty movie at least have hot naked women in it to keep people interested.”

   Speaking of hot naked women, over the past few years, my friends Todd & Vicky have repeatedly asked what it takes to get mentioned in this newsletter. Like most people, they send us a Christmas photo card except theirs are different than the others. One had Vicky as Santa’s helper engaging in doggy style sex with Todd dressed as Santa; another had a scantily dressed Vicky playing “Wreath Toss” with a naked Todd. The cards made us laugh so hard and so did Todd’s stories about making the cards. Such as Todd standing in line at Walgreens with the mothers waiting to make photo cards of their precious spawn, when Todd’s pictures appear on the screen to shock the suburban moms. Or Todd telling us what Vicky had to do so the wreath would stay on him long enough for a picture. I always tell Vicky “skin to win”.  I can’t wait for this year’s photo card. 

A week before Christmas, we put down Glacier. He had some health problems that made the decision for us. I wrapped my arms around him in his final moments with tears in my eyes as the vets calmly talked to him as he went down. When it was over he peed all over my foot. I started laughing and crying at the same time. I explained to the vet when I first met him at the Animal Welfare League, he said hello to me by pissing on my foot. So it was a fitting way to say goodbye. I end this now wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a little something I learned from my dog. Always be excited about going outside, right now is a good time for a nap, lying in the grass is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, sniffing someone’s butt is an acceptable greeting  and when life gets too serious…piss on it.  

No comments:

Post a Comment