Friday, December 27, 2013
Sober Life: The Christmas Special
"Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?" - Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase)
"Naw, I'm doing just fine, Clark" - Eddie (Randy Quaid)
I was very blessed to be able to spend Christmas with two of my sons this year. It took some finagling to get my butt from the beaches of sunny Mexico to the winter ravaged wheat fields of Kansas, but I managed. I started formulating my plan way back at the end of October when the cap'n got a call about working in a small town in western Kansas over Thanksgiving, only an hour and a half from my hometown where my oldest son lives and a mere twenty minutes from where my second son lives. I might have encouraged the cap'n just a little bit, my sights were already set on Christmas and the hope that, if everything worked out well over Thanksgiving, they would ask him to come back and work at Christmas and I would be able to hitch a ride to see my kids. It did, they did, I did and they even payed for my ticket! They don't call me a scheming beeyatch for nothing, years ago I bought our cabin in Colorado while we were living on our sailboat in the Bahamas and arranged that the closing would neatly coincide with my oldest son's K-state graduation. After all, I'd promised him months before that I'd make it back for his graduation. I can already hear you, "Why don't you just by airplane tickets, wouldn't that be easier?" You've obviously never been privy to the negotiations that have to take place between the cap'n and I before he relents to buying a ticket to see family. He always relents, but buying a house as an excuse to make the trip is less complicated.
The plan was to have Christmas Day dinner at my oldest son's new house in our home town and my second son and grandson would drive down to join us. Now to say that my two boys are a little different, would be an understatement of significant proportions. They are only nine months apart, but since birth they have occupied two different worlds. In the same solar system, and, for most of their lives, in the same family, but worlds apart.
A brief, non-biased, motherly comparison. Just the facts. My oldest son is a self-proclaimed socially awkward introvert (like his mother), take him out in public and he won't be able to come up with two sentences to string together to throw at a stranger, after a couple of drinks he becomes pretty affable, after four or five he becomes an asshole (these are his words, not mine). He's thirty-two and way ahead of his mother in his capacity for self-awareness since he already recognizes this about himself and drinks rarely. My second son is everyone's friend, sometimes that's a good thing, other times, it's not. He has a heart bigger than Seward's Folly, unfortunately he's let too many people stake claims and mine for gold on it. He's also thirty-two and doesn't drink much, he's put himself through rehab twice for cocaine addiction. He, too, is way ahead of his mom in having the bravery to confront his demons.
My oldest son has no tattoos, no piercings, no facial hair, no wives, no children....you get the picture. He just got a great new job, just bought his first home in a nice part of town and has a nice new pickup sitting in the driveway.
My second son has numerous tattoos, some that I hope he didn't take too much food out of my grandbabies' mouths to pay for because he didn't get his money's worth, he likes his bling, he has one of those hair patches under his lip, he's a former gang wannabe (maybe he wasn't just a wannabe, but I don't want to think about that), he has one wife but they haven't lived together in years and they both have other significant others, he has two children, one here and one in California. He lost his license several years ago, but he still drives. He and his girlfriend and her two boys, eighteen and sixteen, and one of the kids' friend just moved to a trailer in the country. Second son also has a new job with insurance and everything and he wears it as proudly as he would a new pair of two carat diamond studs.
Me: "Oh by the way, I invited your brother's girlfriend and her boys for dinner."
Oldest son: "What??? You didn't ask me? Who are these people? I don't want a bunch of strangers in my house. Jeezus, Mom! You should have asked me!"
Me: "Come on, it's Christmas. You can't ask her to leave them at home, besides they're teenagers and they probably won't even come. Why would two teenagers want to come hang out with us?"
Oldest son: "fuggerscmooozingdamryanfuggingbetternotfugging...grumble,grumble,grumble,"as he continues to annhilate foes on his video game.
Setting: Me on one couch with phone in hand, oldest son on other couch still annhilating and blowing up his foes, body parts flying through the air, blood splatter on the tv screen.
Me into the phone: "Hey, what time are you guys going to get here? Uh-huh...uh, three would be better. How many did you say were coming?"
Oldest son: Eyebrows shooting to the ceiling, mouth rounding in horror. "What?"
Me into the phone: "Uh, okay, well, we should have enough food. We'll see you at 3 o'clock. Be careful. Yes, I have the gift card so you can buy some gas to get back."
Oldest son: "Don't tell me. He better not be bringing anyone else."
Me: "Just his girlfriend's son's girlfriend and another of their friends."
Oldest son, exploding off the couch: "F'ing ________ (insert second son's name). Who does he think he is? This is so f'ing rude. Don't you think he'd call and ask? I don't want these f'ing strangers in my house."
Me: "I'm sorry. This is my fault." I get up and go into the kitchen so he can't see that I'm about to cry. I check the turkey, it's done and they're not going to be here for three hours. Fuck. Tears in check, I go back into the living room, oldest son has his phone up to his ear.
Me: "Who are you calling?"
Oldest son: " __________(insert second son's name)."
Tears start spurting again, so I go check the turkey again. It's still done and they won't be here for two hours and forty-five minutes. I go back into the living room, phone is still attached to oldest son's side of head.
Me: "I'll call him and tell him not to come. I'll make some excuse and tell him I'll go see him this weekend."
Oldest son takes phone from side of head and puts it on the coffee table. "No, Mom. It's okay. It'll be okay. I'll be good."
Oldest son: "It's 3:15 pm."
Me: "I know."
Oldest son: "F'ing ________ (you know what to do), he does this every time. This is so f"ing rude."
I try to call second son.
"The Verizon customer you are trying to reach is not available at this time. A voicemail box has not been set up."
The phone rings.
Second son: "Mom, what street does _________ (insert oldest son's name) live on?"
A few minute later second son's girlfriend's car pulls into the drive. Second Son is driving while four other persons, that probably have driver's licenses, are passengers. He jumps out of the car and slams the car door, it springs back open. He slams it again, it springs back open.
Girlfriend: "You have to kind of lift it up and shut it, Babe." (I like Girlfriend, I've only met her once before, but my son sounds happier than he has in a long time)
Second son follows Girlfriend's directions and the door stays shut. He shrugs and grins and turns to wrap me in a big hug.
Second son: "Merry Christmas, Mom."
Girlfriend's kids and one kid's girlfriend pile out of the car and we are introduced. We stand around outside making conversation while they all finish their cigarettes. They throw their butts on the ground and I wince, I hope Oldest Son isn't watching out the window. I'll come out and pick them up later.
We file into the house.
Second Son: "Hey guys, take your shoes off."
They do it without grumbling at all before they march into the living room to meet Oldest Son who is still killing people left and right in living color.
Girlfriends Sixteen Year Old Son, the one with the big spikes in his ears: "You have Playstation 4? Cool!"
Oldest Son: "You want to play?" (That's my boy, sharing his toys just like his momma taught him.)
Girlfriend's Eighteen Year Old Son, the one with the girlfriend attached to his underarm, "Hey, watch out for the dude hiding behind the oil tanks."
Oldest Son: "Thanks, Man."
They all gather round to watch in rapture as more body parts go flying.
My Nine Year Old Grandson: "Grandma, you wanna play a game of Sorry?"
Me: "Sure, dude."
We ate, we played, we laughed. A lot. As usual, I am blown away by how good a dad Second Son is to my grandson, but I am even more blown away by the warmth displayed between him and Girlfriend's kids. Girlfriend's kids love my green bean casserole and secret recipe whipped cream. Oldest son is happy, he has someone to play with.
They have to leave too soon. Hugs are passed around, Girlfriend's Oldest Son detaches his arm from around his girlfriend and pulls me in.
Second Son: "Thanks, Mom. Uh...do you have that gift card?"
Oldest Son and I watch as they chug out of sight.
Me: "That wasn't so bad, was it?"
Oldest Son: "No, Mom, it was good. It was real good."
Merry Sober Christmas from My Family To Yours!
(Thank God for Playstation.)