Well, New Years day kicked off with our usual brunch down to Celeste and Bud’s. The whole gang was there: Celeste and Bud (of course), Rita and Smitty, Betty and Pat, Dot and Tommy, and Shirley and Junior, and me and Charlie. We’ve been doing this since God was in diapers, and boy, oh, boy, we’ve had some good times over the years.
It’s easy to forget exactly how long you’ve been married. Or to how many people. Or whether there were divorces in between.
It’s tricky remembering important dates, such as dental checkups, dog grooming appointments and the birthday of the current spouse.
Phew! Only one more holiday to go! But New Years is kid’s stuff compared to the Big Enchilada: Christmas. What a production! I feel like a Mack truck hit me, but, you know, in a good sort of way.
I wish I could be more relaxed about these things; having the house clean and not getting so caught up in making everything just right. But at this point, it’s kind of hard to change. My sister Irene’s the same way. Tidiness was passed down to us from our mother, who got it from her mother.
Last winter, a U.S. Census worker showed up in my isolated neighborhood with plastic bags full of fun facts and even funner forms. I had just finished shoveling my front porch, so I walked down to meet her.
“Are there more houses up there?” she asked, pointing toward the part of our road that doesn’t get plowed. “My map shows two more places.”
“Yes,” I said, “but there’s nobody there in the winter.”
Yikes! I can’t believe it: Christmas is Saturday! How did that happen?
Many years ago, my friend Elizabeth Peavey and I convinced a reluctant editor at Casco Bay Weekly to let us do a story on Portland’s best and worst bar bathrooms. We even talked him into giving us an expense account.
“A lot of these places won’t let you use the rest rooms unless you buy something,” Peavey explained.
“How much do you think you’ll need?” the editor asked, nearly concealing his inherent skepticism.
So the other day, I’m on the phone to this catalogue company, right? Doing a little Christmas shopping for Charlie. When they launch into the usual spiel, “You’re a valuable customer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…The next available representative will be with you in a moment.”
And I say, “Thank you!” It’s a recording for God’s sake!
I continue listening to some Liberace version of Jingle Bells for a minute or two, when I hear “Your call is important to us. Thank you for waiting.”
In my many, many years as a college undergraduate, I sat through a lot of excruciatingly dull classes. In part, this was because I selected my courses each semester based not on some vague goal of graduating and getting a job, but on when and where classes were held.
My rules were simple: nothing before 10 a.m., nothing after 2 p.m., and nothing above the second floor in buildings with no elevator.
Have you ever gotten a little crack in the skin at the corner of your thumb? (God, I sound like Andy Rooney, which makes me want to go pluck my eyebrows, but you get what I’m saying.) It’s kind of like a papercut, this crack, but it’s caused by how dry the air is, now that winter’s here. I get these things no matter how much moisturizer I put on. Sure, it looks small and insignificant, but when I’m lying in bed and that tiny spot starts to throb, forget sleeping. I mean, the whole world is just that crack on my thumb and Charlie’s snoring.
If I was the sort of person who liked old progressive rock of the sort that numbed the brain into a state of extreme stupidity even without the use of illegal mind-altering substances, I’d have pulled out my scratchy LP copy of whatever Pink Floyd album contained the seemingly endless space opera titled “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” one of the few songs ever recorded that’s actually longer than this sentence.