Thursday, December 18, 2008


Well, in an effort to prove that good intentions pave the way to…heck, (actually, the way is less “paved” than “oiled”), I am more convinced than ever that I am being held hostage in some kind perverted sit-com. My neighbor, Margaret, and I had one of those recurring “Lucy and Ethel” moments I would very much like to attribute to “caffeine withdrawal delirium tremors” or lack of oxygen to the brain due to ascending dizzying heights as we try to summit Mt. Everest. Sadly, this is not the case.

I plan to record the incident exactly as it took place, no embellishment or “deranged dumbing down” to mitigate the graphic effects in order to maintain a PG rating. Viewer discretion is advised. And in order to protect Margaret’s privacy, I will call her, “Ethel.”

So here are the facts, in no particular order.

Recently, a neighbor of ours had shoulder surgery. Now, there is no convenient time to be incapacitated by pain, but the holidays are the worst. Ergo, in an effort to render aid to the afflicted, Margaret and I decided to take dinner in to Linda and her family. We’ve done dinners together before, with tolerable success, and, by now, we pretty much know the routine. Margaret would make the soup, and I would do the rolls and dessert. I mean, it isn’t exactly rocket science. Two reasonably bright adults could carry this off without a foreboding sense of impending doom.

We had our menu, our assignments, our designated time of arrival, and that over-all furry feeling that we were rendering service and helping lighten someone else’s burden. What could possible go wrong?

Well, Margaret picked me up right on time. She had carefully placed a large (and I mean large) pot of home-made tortellini soup in the back of her Highlander, and the aroma was so good, I enjoyed schnucking the steam up my nostrils. In fact, I had garlic breath just from inhaling second-hand condensation.

So the two of us, complete with our feast and holiday mirth, drove the few houses up to the Barker home. Margaret parked, put on her emergency brake, and pressed the button of her remote control rear door lifter. And that sucker lifted. Boy Howdy, did that door lift! Now, this is where we ran into disaster. The one and only circumstance that we had not factored into the routine, was the fact that the Barkers live UPHILL from us. I mean, WAY UPHILL! I’m talkin’ Mt. Killimanjaro uphill.

As the two of us sat there, we heard a sickening whooooosh in the back seat, and it does not require a deep understanding of quantum physics to know what was about to happen. It was one of those moments when things seem to proceed in slow motion, and one cannot get to ground zero in time to prevent disaster.

The massive tureen of soup began its precipitous descent with a downward trajectory toward the asphalt. Now here’s where it gets interesting. In perfect symmetrical synchronization, Margaret’s “SSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIHHHHHHHHHHHH…matched exactly the length of time it took for the soup to slide out of the back seat. And the staccato “T” at the end coordinated in flawless harmony with the clatter of metal colliding with pavement. Dang! She really did herself proud. Talk about big finale! (Not to mention perfect timing. No orchestra conductor could have done better.)

The oath pierced the tranquility of the silent night like the plaintive bellow of a love sick elk in the wilderness. It was awesome.

And so we did the only thing that rational people can do at times like these…we laughed hysterically, maniacally, preposterously!

We tried to mop up the mess with my rolls. However, they were not intended for industrial waste management incidents, and it was a comically useless exercise. There was a massive oil slick that extended the length of Mt. Springs road, but curiously did not reach down to the front of our particular homes. Unfortunately, for weeks now, our entire neighborhood has smelled like an Italian restaurant run by a chef with a garlic fettish.

It was a pity that Margaret is so shockingly expletive-impaired. Had she learned the elocutionary skills I did, she could have stuffed the atmosphere with many more words and melted the snow from the street at the same time. Aaah, but I was duly impressed with the simplicity, power and timing of her chosen obscenity. I gave her a 9.9 for her dismount, and her masterful coordination of cuss and clatter.

Our impeachment as neighborhood hospitality chairmen is pending. In the meantime, we have decided to comply with multiple suggestions that we voluntarily place our names on the “marauding culinary offenders” list and register our good intentions as lethal weapons!

The Clot is currently in the midst of celebrating our little brains out for the holidays, and we have met all the demands of the dictatorial traditions that would have made Charles Dickens envious. Our place looks like the centerfold for Currier and Ives, and the adults are on the verge of nervous collapse.

But we are unrestrained in our joy that it is this year and not last…although I do admit that Christmas 2007 taught us more about the Nativity and the life of our Savior than any prior, and those lessons have continued to today.

Recently I came upon a parody of a poem that I wrote in a facetious attempt to relate the realities of the holidays, and as I re-read it, I rather thought it was fairly accurate. I include it just in case it may reflect what others may be experiencing at the start of the holidays.

‘Twas the month before Christmas,
And all through each mother’s heart,
She was counting the moments
Before the frenzy would start.

The Thanksgiving turkey
Causes mothers to smirk,
For before it’s leftovers,
We must go to work.

Yes, it’s that holiday panic
And for six weeks we’re sick,
For without some slick tricks,
There will be no St. Nick.

So armed with our plastic, checks,
And don’t forget cash,
We brave hail, sleet and teen drivers,
And to crowded stores we dash.

On sales clerks, on charge card,
On to the next mall!
Now wrap it up, wrap it up,
Wrap it up, all!

I’ve made out my list,
And I’ve checked it twice.

Each year this old scramble
Gets progressively absurder.
My gift list now includes
Gold, Frankincense and myrrh…der!

I buy clothes, I buy bows,
I observe all traditions.
I buy flour and sweet stuff
To make sugar plums for visions.

I make out our bills,
I made out our will.
And I decorate
Till I nauseate.

I buy and I lie,
I bake till I ache,
I join choirs, build fires…
Is that the budget I just heard break?

I’m more like the Grinch
Than that right jolly old elf.
And I cry at my thigh size
In spite of myself!

Did someone else buy
More than I bought???
There’s no twinkle in MY eyes…
There’s only bloodshot!

I’m no longer merry.
Great! The tree just drooped.
I’m hassled and harried.
And I’m just plain pooped!

Yes, ‘tis the month before Christmas,
And I say with a sigh…
If I survive this darned season,
Just let me sleep till July!

Merry Christmas, loved ones.
The Clot


The Lucky O'Leary Family said...

So, that was the smell in the "hood". You should have just handed spoons to the Barkers and had them eat from the car. You're too much! Got a great laugh from your blog and the poem.

Dennis did such a wonderful job on Sunday. Thank you Dennis for helping me feel that Christmas spirit! Love to all of you! Julie O'Leary

Deanna said...

YOU ALSO WRITE POETRY!!!?? No wonder you don't _ _ _ _. You have no more mental energy after writing and poet-ing. You are too much. love you. My word verification is OVENgse--there is a joke there somewhere--ha ha

Lindhardts said...

Great poem. Im sure it hits home to many mothers.