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Thursday, 27 December
They'll Be In Our Home For Christmas

It was our year to host. And so on Christmas Eve the wife's clan of gap-toothed hillbillies descended on our home like a swarm of fire ants. The father-in-law pulled up in his 1972 van with the rusted-out floor panels and importuned us to help unload the beast, which was filled to bursting with all manner of odd items. His pet armadillo snapped at me threateningly as I unloaded a case of Duraflames.

"Don't let Mocha bother you none," he grinned. "Git those upstairs so's we can git 'em goin' in you'rn fancy firing-place!"

He had also brought an old fake-wood-paneled fourteen inch television with a kicked-in screen. "Outsider art!" he hollered insanely as the wife's mom struggled to put a leash on the recalcitrant armadillo. She kicked it into a daze, and the creature hobbled unsteadily on the sidewalk before releasing a hot jet of urine onto my shoes. I started lugging the astounding welter of junk and nonsense upstairs to our apartment.

Eventually we got the shipwreck of a vehicle unloaded and the holiday festivities began in earnest. The wife had pulled out all the stops and prepared roast beef sandwiches and nothing else; her brother and his wife brought meatballs; the folks had brought a battered tin filled with cold chili. Ah, Christmas! I immediately poured everyone some wine, which was immediately rejected by the father-in-law: "Aw, git that frog juice away! I got my cough syrup."

Eventually it was time to exchange gifts. I had already put one of the Duraflames in the fireplace; I noticed that the case box had a large sticker on it that said "RECALL ITEM--DO NOT USE. DANGER OF NOXIOUS OR LETHAL FUMES." The apartment was filling with an odd grey smoke that seemed to cling to one's scalp, but the in-laws didn't notice. "It's real warm, that fire is," ventured the wife's brother. "Powerful hot!" I nodded wearily and pawed at my head, noticing a deep itch beginning to set in as the fumes intensified.

"So y'already got yore burny-logs," said Pa. I pondered the queasy double-entendre: For Christmas, you gave me wood. "But there's more a-comin'!" He then produced a plastic-wrapped package of 48 rolls of toilet paper. "It's single ply!" he cried. "So's you just wind it all around yore whole hand." Then with a flourish he brought out a gallon jar filled with dill pickles.

"It just ain't a proper shit without a pickle to munch on," he said sagely. I glanced at the wife, who was turning the package of toilet paper over in her hands in wonderment. I silently accepted the monstrous bottle and stared at its contents; the pickles looked like enormous gangrenous penises.

"But I ain't done even yet," said my father-in-law, leaning back to light a misshapen cigarello with a wooden match that he scratched on his grizzled beard; his wife paid him no attention as she greedily fished out a pickle from our jar. I was reeling slightly from the ever-increasing fug that was permeating the room.

"I got you all high-definition tellyvisions!" he howled, sweeping his one non-hook arm at two large, sagging packages. This got the wife's attention, and she looked at me with a glimmer of hope. We tore into the dubious-looking packages, which appeared to have been wrapped by juvenile delinquents with some sort of unspecified but dangerous grudge. In some places, the wrapping was held on with tenpenny nails.

In the end, what we discovered was . . . actual hi-def televisions, 32-inchers, one for the wife and I and the other for her brother and his latest wife, who honked appreciatively from within her oxygen tent and waved her edema-ravaged hands in a gruesome approximation of gratitude.

For our part, we couldn't believe what we were seeing--least of all the wife, who wasn't seeing anything at the moment, as the ever-gathering smoke had rendered her momentarily unable to open her eyes, and was busily applying a rather nasty-looking unguent to her face that had been supplied by her mother.

"Where did you get these?" I yelled at the father-in-law, who rocked happily as he witnessed my astonishment.

"Stole 'em from yore neighbors!" he cried happily. "Kilt 'em and stole their tellyvisions! Your'n gonna start smellin' 'em in about three days, I s'pose."

"That is fucking awesome," I told him sincerely. "Thank you."

"You are surely welcome," he replied, pleased. "Now hand me them pickles. I feel a powerful shit comin' on."

A short time later, it was time for everyone to go home. We walked people out to their cars; the in-laws climbed into their emphysematous van.

"You guys have a good Christmas Day, okay?" I told them warmly. I couldn't wait to get my hands on that television; I fairly twitched with anticipation of being able to not know how to hook it up properly.

"What are you guys doing for your proper Christmas dinner?" I asked as they prepared to make the eleven-point turn that would direct them on their way home.

The father-in-law grinned at me happily. "Why, what do you suppose, boy?" He used his hook to tap clinically on the gas gauge for a moment, noting with solemnity the lack of a needle indicator before turning back to me.

"It ain't Christmas if you ain't eatin' armadillo."


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Comments


Eatin' armadillo ain't none so bad. The real challenge is in stuffin' it afore hand. I can only 'magine that's hows yourn father in law's hook came about.

Comment number: 016289   Posted by: Lung the Younger on December 31, 2007 03:09 AM from IP: 80.38.62.195

wow, i sure hope the part about the tellyvishuns is rii-at.

Comment number: 016303   Posted by: Alyxmyself on December 31, 2007 08:47 AM from IP: 71.40.153.6

Damn you, boy! When you gonna rite thet dern book? Ah'm cerious now. Git at it!

Comment number: 016314   Posted by: maggie on December 31, 2007 01:52 PM from IP: 76.122.208.125

Ah yes, The Recalcitrant Armadillo. Wasn't that an off-campus pub at WSU?

And Skott: Not to be too critical, but I believe that in true Hillbilly gibberish it would be "Kilt 'em and stole THEY tellyvisions" not "their tellyvisions."

Or perhaps your inlaws contain hidden depths?

Comment number: 016383   Posted by: Buzzy on January 3, 2008 12:01 PM from IP: 156.74.250.7

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