“So it didn’t come this year: I’ve learned from experience that the fault is usually mine. Look, only when you’re a kid is Christmas given to you. As an adult you have to work at it, or perhaps earn it, even if you don’t have kids. So the failure is mine: I never quite happened on the stable where the blessed Jesus lay. Or perhaps I was too busy to look up in the sky, and the wondrous star burning bright shined for nothing. Anyway, Christmas didn’t come. But it really doesn’t matter, since things were seriously worse for a lot of people. As things have been worse for me, in many years past….”
“How,” asked Lady, “how can Christmas not come?”
“Well, it all started off badly, when Mr. Fernández came home badly poisoned from a staff Christmas party….”
“Can you believe it? Thank God I used to work for Wal-Mart, since Sam Walton was a serious old toad, and realized that cheering drinks were a heavy profit-loss at company events. But at the workplace of Mr. Fernández, no such wisdom prevailed.”
“Anyway, whatever it was that they gave him, it caused undue elation, slurring of speech, and a total loss of responsibility for pressing concerns, which in this case was the cooking of the Christmas turkey.”
“Raf had to cook the turkey?”
“Yup, the accursed turkey….”
“’Accursed’ is a word?”
“Seems so, since the computer hasn’t squiggled it. Anyway, the turkey had been a pain ever since it landed a week earlier in my mother-in-law’s cart at Costco. Not that it wasn’t a very big bird at a very good price…. So good, in fact, that Ilia (my mother-in-law) decided to get the biggest bird possible. So they sailed out of the club with 25 pounds of turkey, but then realized that they had no place to put it….”
“Nobody has a freezer in the family?”
“Well yes, but they’re all filled with ice cubes or frozen peas or God knows what. So it’s nine o’clock on the week before Christmas, and all the freezers were full. So that meant that they had to call, and see if the freezer in the Luna Street apartment was available. Since that’s my freezer, that meant that it was up to me to stay up way past my bedtime, awaiting a mother-in-law and a sister-in-law and a frozen bird that I didn’t much want and would, as it turned out, never eat.”
“Somehow, the logic is getting a little skewed in this story,” said Lady, who has chosen not be here, but still is, in my mind.
“You don’t know the family,” I told her, or perhaps told ‘she-who-is-but-isn’t’ (English having no ser / estar distinction). “Anyway, it would be at least two hours from club to Luna Street, since it was a Friday night, and the traffic is always horrible, and especially at Christmas time. So that meant I would have to lose my first sleep cycle—some four hours or so—awaiting family and bird. So I put my foot down, which meant that I turned out going to Luna Street, to hide the key cleverly in the foyer of the building. Then I came home….”
“Right, so the bird was causing trouble, right from the start,” said Lady.
“It was,” I told her, “since we then managed to keep the bird frozen, but then somehow forgot that we weren’t serving frozen turkey for Christmas dinner. So then it was two days before Christmas, and had anyone taken the bird out of my freezer? Of course not, so I had to give Mr. Fernández my keys, and he went before work to set about thawing the turkey. But guess what? Instead of bringing it home, putting it in the aluminum roasting pan in the oven (away from predatory cats), and letting it defrost there, he simply dumped the bird three feet away from my freezer into my kitchen sink. So then, t’was the night before the night before Christmas, as well as the night in which Mr. Fernández suffered his greatest bout with corporate America, at the office Christmas party—a seemingly innocuous affair. So it was 9:30 at night, which is bedtime for little Marc, and Mr. Fernández arrived, filled with cheer, protestations of love, fulsome admiration of my physical charms and, fatally….”
“Christmas brings that on,” I told her. “Anyway, there he was, asking where the hell the turkey was? Then he bolted for the bathroom, very nearly not making it. So I followed him, and the four cats followed me, since they hadn’t been fed, that being Mr. Fernández’s job. So we all stood around, and Mr. Fernández announced that he would cook the turkey, which he colorfully and profanely described. But guess who had to go get it?”
“Well, could I send out a poisoned man to retrieve the turkey? Or leave an entire family unfed on the night before Christmas?”
“That’s the way it happens in this family,” I told her. “Anyway, I had first to steer Mr. Fernández to the chair in front of the screen that was YouTube-ing the Messiah, which had gotten to the ‘Shirley’ song….”
“No, Marc, the Messiah can’t have a ‘Shirley’ song….”
“It does if sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the version of the Messiah borne to me by my mother. Anyway, the Mormons updated the choir ‘Surely, he hath borne our griefs’ to ‘Shirley, he hath borne….’”
“Things appear to happen differently at your house,” observed Lady.
“Apparently,” I told her, “since there an envenomed (well, you know what I mean) Mr. Fernández was, shouting ‘Shirley,’ which could be heard all down the street, to which I can attest, since I had left Mr. Fernández safely in the arms of Handel, as well as four unfed cats, who were surrounding the chair, making egress impossible. So I grabbed the damn turkey, and my back instantly registered the fact that it was a 25-pound frozen fowl. And then I sputtered back to the apartment, where I discovered Mr. Fernández sobbing in front of the screen, on which was YouTube-ing ‘Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto his sorrow….’”
“Marc, you have to be making this up entirely!”
“Well, that may or may not be,” I told her, “but though there were two of us, I can assure you that there’s only one witness!”
“I see that,” she said.
“Anyway, Mr. Fernández roused himself and vowed to march manfully into the kitchen, there to cook the turkey. The fact that he was unlikely to get unguided into the kitchen seemed of lesser importance than the fact that kitchen is a place with knives, which might have done more damage than even the Christmas party did. So I announced that I would cook the damn turkey, and not tonight, since it was now several hours after my bedtime, and even if I could start the cooking process, who was going to be around to see to the end of it? I mean, would the oven turn itself off?”
“So then what happened?”
“So then I assisted Mr. Fernández to bed, and did you know that I’m the most beautiful man in the world?”
“Not unattractive, certainly,” said Lady. “I mean, next to the Elephant Man….”
“First you’re not here, thus refusing to share your burden of this story….”
“Oh, rubbish, Marc! Why do I have to be the straight man in your stupid posts!”
“Well, that’s it,” I told her. “If you want to know what happened, you’ll just have to stick around until tomorrow, since both of us have gone to bed….”