We had a full house today, with all my sons and grandkids. We decided to keep it simple with a spaghetti dinner, and presents for the kids only (although I did receive the softest robe in the world.)
(I’m writing this and that *!#*!#* Jingle Bells is still echoing in my head. Oh, will it never stop? If it hasn’t stopped by trash day on Wednesday, it’s going out with the garbage. Let it be a pleasant surprise for the garbageman. Maybe he’ll even dig the card out with thoughts of bringing it home to his wife or offspring. Now wouldn’t that be funny? What if he did and soon realized the error of his way? Bet he’d never dig in the garbage again! And then what if he tossed it out, only it fell out of the trash can and landed on the street and some poor unsuspecting sap picked it up and thought, “Wow, I know it’s a bit belated, but I can show Susie I’ve got a bit of the Christmas spirit after all.” And so he tucks it under his arm, proud of his discovery, whistling along with its peppy little tune all the way home. Only Sam, let’s call him Sam, ok, Sam has had one beer too many so he doesn’t notice the coffee ground stains on the card, or the fact that it smells like yesterday’s tuna fish. So he bumbles along, stumbling every now and then cause everyone knows old Sammy boy can’t hold his drink, and before you know it there’s his shabby little house. In the front window slumps a sad little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, no lights to brighten its homely features. Just a half dozen mismatched ornaments, and a lopsided angel to top it off.
Ok, so see, now Sammy’s home and his heart skips a beat because he can surprise his Susie after all. Oh, how her face will light up. Can’t you just see it? She’s one of those drab dishwater blondes, with features that used to be pretty but now, due to years of financial and health issues, mostly look pinched. She doesn’t bother with makeup anymore; doesn’t bother much with her appearance at all. As Sammy pauses on the front step to gaze at their broken down tree, she peers at him from behind the curtain and sees a big old goofy grin plastered on his equally homely mug. She pulls away from the window in an agitated manner and, for the first time in ages, runs a quick hand over her hair and pulls her shapeless sweater a little neater about her sparse frame.
And now here’s Sammy, stumbling through the door. He’s never been a mean drunk, but there is something about him tonight which she can’t quite pinpoint. She hears a weak rendition of Jingle Bells seemingly wafting from under his coat, and throws him a puzzled look.
Sammy leans against the doorframe to the living room to steady himself, and whips out the oversized card with a flourish. Seeing the shine of its cover, Susie gasps first from the wonder of this unexpected gift and then, upon closer inspection, she emits another gasp at its bedraggled, smelly condition.
Looking from the crumpled card to Sammy’s idiotically grinning face and back again, a surge of latent anger thunders through Susie’s tiny frame. This card, if only he knew it, symbolizes the years she’s devoted to a man who has failed her at every turn, and who is good at one thing only, that one thing being failure. Even through her sudden fury, she realizes that this insult of a card will not shut up. And it is too much. One thing too many. The last straw. And Susie loses it. Years later as she withers away in a mental institution, she is able with the last of her reasoning capacities to trace her breakdown back to that moment in her history when Sam, acting totally out of character, decided to bring her home a belated gift. Why oh why couldn’t he have left well enough alone? As for Sam . . . well, you really don’t want to know what become of him. As selfish as it sounds (and is) I’m just glad to get that cotton pickin’ card out of my life.)
OK, little digression there. I know I got carried away. Let’s blame it on my sleeping pill which started kicking in about 10 minutes ago (and we’ll blame any typos on that as well.) I swear I’ve had no egg nog today, or any reasonable fascimiles. I’m simply dead tired and thankful to have the holiday over with and all I wanted was to say a simple Goodnight to all of you. So here it is: goodnight.
(PS You may think my little Sam and Susie scenario is a bit “out there.” But I’m telling you, my ex gave me this card along with a bunch of other stuff, and it just figures something like this would happen. This is the same man who, decades ago, when I was raising my kids and flat broke, gave me a car whose horn blared and got stuck every time I made a right turn. Or the car whose hood would suddenly decide to snap open with no warning, usually when I was driving on the freeway. But those are stories for another time. Just don’t try to tell me he didn’t somehow boobytrap this card!)