Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Coconuts, Starring In: Christmas Chaos

Scene one: We arrive at Marc and Glen's house in the afternoon of the 23rd to begin our 13th consecutive Christmas together, the four of us. We have a holiday concert to attend at Marc's theater that evening, so the two of them aren't home, but we need to get Snug acclimated before heading out. He's clearly a little spooked at being left in this strange backyard, but we give him a peanut-butter-filled Kong and hope for the best.

Scene two: At the end of the show, N turns to the nearly 30 other theater patrons and announces, "Now we all go back to Uncle Marc and Uncle Glen's house for a party, right?" We have to explain the difference between the idea of we Coconuts gathering at their house, and we Entire Theater gathering at their house. He thinks I'm just being a Scrooge and begins inviting people individually.

Scene three: Glen gets back to the house before us, and lets Snug in from the back yard. When we pull up, Glen and Snug stand at the front door, and as N and Em approach the house, Glen opens the screen door invitingly. Snug bolts. Past N, past Em, past Baroy, past me. I utter many unimaginative curse words and start running after him, but he turns the corner at a flat-out sprint. Marc and Glen live just a block from a Very Major thoroughfare, and Snug's heading right for it. All I can think is that this is not going to turn out as well as things did when he bolted from me in our sleepy little 'burb a few months back. But as I clomp around the corner myself, I catch a flash of Snug disappearing into the alley behing Marc and Glen's house.

"Here Snuggie," I call, trying to sound calm. "Here, big boy. Don't be scared. We're back! Come here!" As I talk, I walk up the alley, arms outstretched. I might as well be talking cat, however. Snug takes one look at me and rushes past, wild-eyed with panic.

It's over; it's over, I think. From now on, Christmas will always be The Day Snug Died Under the Wheels of a Present-Laden Minivan.

But what to my wondering eyes do appear--right behind me, in fact--but Baroy. And with moves that belie the fact that he's a 5'4", 51-year-old Jew, he tackles that fast-moving pup with a single bob-and-weave. And just like that, Snug is back in the house, all wagging tail and licking tongue again.

Scene four: We discover that, pre-escape, Snug had apparently tried to tunnel out of the yard, right through the middle of Marc and Glen's carefully maintained lawn. Sigh. We apologize, and Baroy tries to undo some of the damage by tamping down the damp earth with his sneakers.

Scene five: That done, we finally begin to move our stuff into the bedrooms we'll be sleeping in. It isn't until Baroy has gone down the beige-carpeted hallway and into the beige-carpeted bedroom that we realize he's been leaving muddy footprints the entire way.

Scene six: After Baroy and I try to clean the mud with a previously untouched bottle of enzymatic cleaner, I go back outside to bring in Snug's doggie bed and begin to drag THAT down the hallway as well. As I go, my foot hits something hard, and over goes the crystal decanter that Marc and Glen use to keep the hallway door open. I didn't think it was possible for glass to shatter into that many pieces when it hits carpeting. Apparently, it is.

Scene seven: After we vacuum up the hallway, we put the kids to bed and begin to drink. And drink. And drink.

Scene eight: On the morning of Christmas eve, I wake up nauseated and realize that I've not only forgotten to take my antidepressants, but have forgotten to BRING my antidepressants. Despite the fact that our house is an hour away, I head out.

Scene nine: I grab my pills and a few other forgotten items. Since my gas tank is almost on empty, I stop at the gas station to fill up, and then at the bagel place in our neighborhood to try to take some of the burden off of Glen, who has to shop for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner (eggplant parmesan and pasta, all topped with homemade-by-Glen sauce) and shouldn't have to worry about the Christmas Day breakfast as well. When I go to pay, I realize that my AmEx is no longer in my wallet. The AmEx I just used at the gas station. SHIT.

Scene ten: I drive back to the gas station, banging my head on the steering wheel as I go. It's bad enough to lose a credit card, but I've probably had to replace this particular card four times in the past year, for the exact same reason. The last time was less than two months ago. My brain. It used to work. It's so sad how much it doesn't now.

Scene eleven: A Christmas Miracle occurs. Someone found and turned in my AmEx. I show ID, and I walk away, muttering to myself, "Any other day of the year? It's being used to finance a terrorist attack. Thank god it's Christmas." Somewhere in Burbank, my rabbi begins to sob.

Scene twelve: Because Marc and Glen have been so busy at their day jobs and in the theater, they have not yet decorated the tree, so we all do it together. It takes almost two calm, fun, uneventful hours. Another Christmas Miracle.

Scene thirteen: After the sauce is made and eggplant parm is assembled, we fry up some extra eggplant for Em, who likes it "plain." Half an hour later, we walk into the kitchen to find an empty plate bearing obvious Snuggly tongue prints. Em is the only one who doesn't find this funny.

Scene fourteen: N talkes a glass of milk into the bedroom and manages to knock it over and splatter the wall, the draperies and the carpeting. Out comes the enzymatic cleaner again.

Scene fifteen: We have a wonderful dinner and a nice calm evening. Glen writes out Santa's note to Em and N, and we sit around and bullshit while the kids watch TV in the bedroom and fall asleep quietly. We dare to breathe a sigh of relief. We are stupid.

Scene sixteen: It is 4:30 am when N appears in the doorway and says, "I threw up all over the bed." He lies. It is only all over half the bed. Em's half is untouched, and she somehow sleeps through the entire cleanup. (Yep. More enzymatic cleaner.) That kid is TIRED. We move N into our bed in the other room, where he sleeps for a good 45 minutes before throwing up all over that bed...and its pillows as well. We strip the sheets, finish the bottle of enzymatic cleaner, pull out the sleeping bag we'd brought just in case, and put N back to sleep there. He throws up on the sleeping bag at 6:30. It's waterproof. I wipe it off and put him back in it. He sleeps until 9:30 in the morning, after we've all had breakfast and opened our stockings. He then proceeds to stare into space blankly for the next two hours, refusing to open his presents. He has a fever of well over 101. We gather everything up, load it into the car, and spend fifteen seconds saying goodbye, followed by fifteen minutes of abject apologies for basically hitting their house like a tornado.

Scene seventeen: Marc and Glen stand outside waving goodbye to us. As we drive away, Baroy turns to me and sighs. "Well, 13 years was a pretty good run. Do you think they'll actually put the house on the market, or just change their phone number?"

Anyone want to host some Jews for the holiday next year? I'd say we're not much trouble, but I'd be lying through my teeth.


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