Monday, December 24, 2007

Rubbing elbows, flossing noses

The bottom of the invitation to our neighbors’ Christmas party read like this: “We ask that each person please bring a fun activity to share: a joke, a song, a game, a skit, a story.”

Of course, my wife Kara and I figured that this part of the invitation didn’t really apply to us. We’re special. We also don’t feel like we should have to stop when new stop signs are installed. Once you’re used to driving on a road without stopping, you should be grandfathered in.

Instead, we decided to bring a bottle of wine, thinking that it could, in a stretch, count as a game. “It’s a little game we like to call ‘Social Lubrication,’” we’d say.

As we got up to leave for the party, I walked to the front door while Kara headed for the garage.

“You seriously want to drive there?” I asked. “We’re only going two houses up.”

“You’re not the one wearing heels. It’ll feel like three miles in these things,” she said. It’s true that her heels were tall enough that, had they been made of wood and hidden under flashy silk trousers, they would have been excellent props for a Cirque de Soleil performance. Unfortunately, neither one of us can juggle flaming objects, except for the occasional failed batch of garlic toast.

“But we haven’t even left yet. You could still put on shoes that allow you to wear them and walk at the same time,” I suggested.

Eventually, I “won” the discussion, but winning is a relative term when your wife is angrily clopping ahead of you down the driveway. Over the past few years of marriage, we’ve found that the important thing isn’t THAT you argue, but HOW you argue. We argue so well that we made up before we got to the mailbox.

The party turned out to be an intimate gathering of very friendly people, wonderful for getting to know our neighbors but terrible for hiding one’s lack of preparation. After a few minutes, the discussion turned to the activities everyone had brought, with the judges all agreeing that a bottle of wine was very thoughtful but that we’d have to come up with something else. Slowly, we began going around the circle, with Kara and I left to go last.

One couple brought a Christmas trivia game. Here’s one for you: “In the Little Drummer Boy, what kept time?” If you thought “a metronome,” too, it’s a good thing we weren’t on the same team. I still don’t understand how “ox and lamb” are supposed to be musically inclined, but that’s less surprising to me than the fact that somebody actually knew the answer.

The host of the party whipped out a banjo and played a medley of holiday songs from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. He played it like a pro, like he’d just come back from a gig played behind chicken wire.

I sat there wondering how I’d gotten to be thirty years old without developing a single useful talent. We didn’t have time for everyone to watch me play Elder Scrolls IV for five straight hours without taking a single bathroom break.

Kara and I had to come up with a party trick, and fast. I was imagining future conversations between our neighbors: “Whatever happened to that couple down the street?”

“Oh, you mean the talentless buffoons?”

I seriously considered the trick I’d seen on the Late Show where the guy snorted dental floss and brought it back through his mouth. Could a nasal floss be executed successfully on the first try? It seemed worth a shot.

In the end, we printed off one of my old columns and Kara performed a dramatic reading, which, despite the source material, she pulled off quite well, really nailing the “my wife Kara” parts and getting us both off the hook. In retrospect, they probably would have preferred the nasal floss.

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  1. How fun! I'm so glad the Christmas Party turned out great and that you and Kara met some great neighbors. Our neighborhood parties are not so swanky (heels?! This is Maine... I don't know any Mainer who wears heels in the winter outside, unless it's my aunt and she's kind of kooky). We usually have to wear boots and carry our footwear in a real cool Target plastic shopping bag. A typical Christmas Party here could be Gary breaking out his best drunken rendiditon of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer while another neighbor might be puking off the back deck. fun times. I swear we will grow up someday.

  2. Hey Dude,

    I'm still shopping...

    Merry Christmas to you and family and all houses you've owned this year. And to all real estate agents that are now living in cardboard boxes (in Chicago they live in lower Wacker Drive (insert your own joke)) - but, I have a good feeling the market will change.

    When I catch up, I'll actually read this post I commented on. Sorry but I had to write somewhere.

    I've been watching Christmas Story all day and when they finally stopped at 8:00, then 2 hours of Family Guy. Oh, the tradition... And as I type this, they followed that with the "special" I embarrassed a gay employee episode on The Office. Ha. Look it up.

    Keep on writing. I enjoy each and every one.


  3. Merry Christmas to you both!!!!

  4. I'm back. Read it. Funny.

    I would have used the Wine for spin the bottle.

  5. Sheri -- That sounds like a great party to me. Do you have a holiday-themed beer bong? That would be awesome.

    Burf -- Merry Christmas, dude!

    Jered -- 8==> (that was my attempt at a dirty ASCII picture)

    Buster -- Thanks for the encouragement, man. And the good party ideas -- we totally should have thought of that.

    Hope you all have an excellent New Year's. If you have to puke, do it off of Sheri's back deck.