The Postponed Christmas, or Tinsel and Tears 2008
GET OFF MY BACK
Now that's that's clear, let's review, shall we?
I went to Texas, concerted in Peru and Bolivia, moved back to Indiana and have been getting used to being graduated. Having "Dr" in your name sounds like it would open up doors, but strangely Applebee's doesn't give me preferred seating when I put my name on the list.
Me: Dr Keith Collins
Maitre'd: How many?
Me: Did you hear me, I said DOCTOR Keith Collins.
Maitre'd: Don't care, don't care, don't care.
Variations of this exchange have been repeated at Ruby Tuesday's, Outback, Texas Roadhouse, Fogo de Chao, Airtran, United, USAir, Northwest, my parents, and by the lube guys at the Wal*Mart. Even the cats are unimpressed, but then what does impress an evil bloodthirsty 20 lb felid and his spritely, food-obsessed, semi-feral she-companion? Not much, let me tell you.
It seems a Doctor of Music doesn't get the respect one might think he would. Even in the incestually small world of my specialty people are more interested in knowing who I studied with, and whether or not I've played in Europe. "Europe?" I ask. "That's SO overdone. You haven't really made it as a musician until you've played in a dank semi-tropical third world country during civil unrest and unbearable heat. Why, how can one believe he is in any way accomplished unless he's sweated so much that salt rings appear on his shirt before even the intermission?."
Meanwhile, not even a single Handel concert was tossed to me this December. That's like a cop not getting to arrest anyone on New Year's Eve. Sad, disappointing, and kinda makes you wonder about the world.
With all this free time, I've been looking for jobs. Not so much career-advancing ones mind you, but jobs nonetheless. I have instead taken a "volunteer" position with an historical society. It pays not a wage, but a "living stipend". I am not an employee, but a "member". And one of the first things I learned was that
My boss contracted what may or may not have been whooping cough. You read that correctly. Pertussis. That which is vaccinated at the age of one. Apparently in Indiana, though, there are enough earth hippies, ultra-fundies, separatists, and other delightful sub-species who DO NOT VACCINATE their little larvae that this disease has made a big comeback in Indiana. Perhaps you're unaware, but the life sciences are one of Indiana's main industries. Lilly. Glaxco. Big players. This is irrelevant, apparently.
For the record, I did not contract whooping cough. But because I was exposed to it, my family and I decided it was too risky for me to come home and potentially give them that most blessed of Christmas presents: phlegm. So I stayed home.
And by "home" I mean that I flew to Bangor, Maine. Let's face it: staying home with the two "cats" was just too depressing. So I bought a last-minute sale flight and prepared myself for my first Christmas with my partner. Hooray!
Not so fast there, Tiger. As always with me and mine there is a Story.
Picture it: Indianapolis, December 23. It had been raining and sleeting, but it had passed. So a certain hobbit-ish fellow drives his sasquatch of a spouse to the airport. But as they near Edinburgh, IN (outlet malls and antique malls and a Cracker Barrel!) the phone rings. A robot lady instructs said spouse that the flight is canceled. For a day. Please come back and try again tomorrow! Thanks!
Meanwhile, hobbit's ticket is for the morning. So back home for one more night. HIS flight was completely uneventful and only delayed by 20 minutes. Sasquatch was to leave 6 hours later, to meet in Bangor around midnight.
*cue orchestra which is playing a bminor7 chord, au tremblant*
Upon arriving in Bangor, there is a phone call. Flight delayed. 4 hours. Another call 4 hours later reveals that there is no crew for the flight. I wonder if they just said "Well f*ck this, it's Christmas Eve. Let's take the attendants to the bar and get hammered!"
He makes it, eventually, on Christmas morning at 5am. Fa la la la la.
At this point in the narrative, I would, were I a reader, sigh with a smug smile and shake my head at the tangled webs we modern humans weave, what with flying in the air and whatnot. Then I'd expect the author to start wrapping it up. Sadly, that is not going to happen. Let's turn the metaphorical page:
The smaller one, the hobbit-ish one, had in fact had a bit of a cough and some Liquidity in the Market, if you know what I mean. But nothing more. So the merry little band opens the presents and then has what, for this particular family, is a tradition: Christmas Chinese takeout.
Now for the wee guy, this is not unlike celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour with a pinata, or a clam bake- weird, a bit sacreligious, and a tad nauseating. Still, it wasn't as weird as the Christmas Supper of Stuffed Shells and Cheese. With garlic bread. It should be noted at this point that this wee hobbit-like dude is an Appalachian American of many generations, and he has often described visiting his friends and relations and in-laws in Maine as "like being Jane Goodall but with better weather and fewer bugs." Yankees in the Mist, if you will.
*weeguy writing in journal, wearing a safari hat*: "The one I call Sasquatch has been cranky today. When I pant-hooted he nearly took off my face. His sister seems much calmer, perhaps because she is courting a young male. If only I could understand their language and customs! Also, what is a whoopie pie?"
And so, around 10pm, Sasquatch begins to feel unwell. That's what you get for eating Chinese on Christmas the hobbit thinks to himself. Then the big one turns gray and feverish. Finally a decision has been made. Time to go to the hospital.
Nothing says "Happy Holidays!" like going to the emergency room at a semi-rural town on the edge of the world, where there are 8-ish hours of daylight on Christmas and 2 feet of snow on the ground and a sad, sad little Christmas tree in the lobby.
And so, as the diagnosis of a flare-up of diverticulitis is confirmed, as the admittance papers are signed, as the IV antibiotics and Fentanyl are injected, as the realization that there will be at least 2 days in the hospital over Christmas, and as the cold, cold dawn arrives (at 8am), they look lovingly at each other and, through impossibly foul breath, wish each other a "Merry Fecking Christmas".