I didn’t exactly have the kind of Christmas I thought I was going to have this year. Don’t get me wrong: there was lots that was good about it, but there was some drama too, some of it necessary drama (which I’m totally cool with) and some of it totally unnecessary (which sucks.) One thing is for sure: I’m not gonna get Christmas 2019 mixed up with any other 27 Christmases I’ve lived through.
I guess I need to go back to the beginning, and the beginning involves Joyce’s brother, Jim, who came to stay with her for Christmas. He was on his way to a singles resort in Hawaii for New Years and stopped off for 3 nights to see his sister on the way to his real vacation. They’re not really close and she hardly ever talks about him, so I was surprised to hear that he was coming to visit at all. He lives in Vermont and got divorced a couple years ago. Joyce says he didn’t take it well…and, from what I saw, he still isn’t. He’s got a good job in administration at a small but apparently famous college, the kind that probably doesn’t even have a football team.
I can’t really say that Jim is a total fucktard, but he definitely was a fucktard to me. He was also a fucktard to Joyce, and that bothered me a heck of a lot more than the dumbass shit he gave me. Don’t worry, I didn’t take him outside and beat him up but, by the time I left Christmas Day, I really did want to take a swing at him for having called me pretty boy about 10 times too many. If it wasn’t that he was my girlfriend’s brother, he probably would have found out that this pretty boy knows dang well how to open a can of buttkick lol.
Jim’s real tall, maybe almost 6’5”, but I don’t think he’s even 200. Brown eyes and hair (what’s left of it lol.) He’s tall and skinny now, although he didn’t always used to be that way. Joyce told me he always had a problem with his weight, and he apparently blew up like a balloon after the divorce. He was up to 400 practically. Then he had that stomach surgery and went on one of those diets they advertise on the TV where they send you frozen food once a week or something. I’ll give him one thing: it did work, and now he thinks he looks great and he’s all ready to run around a singles resort in Hawaii in a bathing suit and get laid a lot. (It’s a special over 40 thing, so it’s not like he’s going to be around guys my age in board shorts making him look bad lol.) That’s all ok…I mean, I understand it. I didn’t tell him about 30 chicks in 30 days…but I got the feeling that, once he got over being jealous of me, he’d have thought it was a good idea. I’m just not sure he could pull it off, TV diet or no TV diet lol.
So this year I spent both Christmas eve and Christmas day with Joyce and Jim…although I didn’t spend the night, since Jim was staying in the guest room and Joyce didn’t like the idea of my staying there while he was in the house. I reckon I can see what she was thinking, but it’s also kinda lameass. It’s not like Jim couldn’t figure out from the razor in the bathroom and my bathrobe from last Christmas in Joyce’s bedroom and my baseball mug in the kitchen that I’m used to spending the night there. Of course, if Jim was staying in the guest room, then Moomoo and Numnums would have been roaming at large…and they hate me so much that I don’t feel fuckin safe sleeping with them on the loose. Y’all may probably have been thinking that they’d have gotten used to me by now. Nope: they hate me even worse than when I first started coming over to the house. I do need to be fair and add that the feeling is 100% mutual lol.
Me and Joyce planned a Christmas eve that was kind of a joke. It was a Trader Joe’s Christmas eve, with most everything bought in their frozen section. The idea was to give Joyce a break, since she was working hard on cooking Christmas dinner and I didn’t want her to be a total slave in the kitchen all holiday long. So we went to the Trader Joe’s next to where Keaton used to live and bought a shitload of stuff, figuring that at least some of it would have to be good. I’m talking everything from french onion soup to tamales to lasagna to chicken tika masala, plus bread and cheese and olives (by the way, I love olives.) We got their hot fudge too, but I don’t like their ice cream. We went to the Rite Aid and got a container of Thrifty’s chocolate instead, plus a box of Moon Pies (the Rite Aid is the only place around here I know that sells Moon Pies) so we could make something like the awesome Moo-on Pie Sundaes they have at Udderly Delicious back in Hickory. It was gonna make for a weirdass kind of meal, but that was part of the fun and we were reckoning we’d get some big laughs about the things that sucked. Seeing as we bought so much food, we definitely weren’t gonna die of hunger.
Jim flew overnight on the 23rd and got in on the morning of the 24th, and of course I had to work Christmas eve. I was only supposed to work until 7, but I couldn’t get out of the store until it was almost closing at 9. Why do people wait until the last minute to do their Christmas shopping? We were mostly selling gift cards, so many that Tatiana suggested that we start a drinking game: every time someone rang up a gift card, they had to add a spoon of rum to the egg nog we had in the back. By the time I was ready to leave and took a sip of the stuff from the break room refrigerator, it was so strong that it would have gotten me into at least one fight if I had anymore lol.
(Y’all should also know that they sell Gap gift cards at the Rite Aid. I checked when me and Joyce were in there buying the ice cream. So there’s no reason to park in Old Town and come into the store if a gift card’s all you need. I told y’all this at the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Nobody seems to have listened to me. But remember it for next year lol.)
Since it was late, I went straight to Joyce’s from the store. I probably looked like shit, and would have liked to go home and change, but there just wasn’t time. Joyce has seen me looking like a hella mess…but I have a comb and toothbrush and shit like that over at her house, so I could make myself look more presentable once I got there. As it was, I showed up at her door in a hoodie, tshirt, jeans, a pair of our sneakers and a Dodgers cap. I needed the hat: I grabbed my hair so many times in frustration during the day that it was totally fucked up.
So I get to Joyce’s at about 9:15, and Jim opens the door. He takes a long look at me, like from head to toe, not like he was checking me out…but like he was totally judging me before I even got a chance to say Merry Christmas. Most times I meet another dude, we hit it off pretty good right away. I’m not exactly clueless about my looks, though, and, yeah, there are some lameass dudes who have issues with guys who are better looking than them. Think of that jerkoff I knock on his ass every year in the turkey bowl. But what I think was really bothering Jim as he looked me up and down was my age: he didn’t like it that his sister had a younger boyfriend, probably because he didn’t look like he’d ever be able to get a chick my age. I still don’t know how old Joyce is (I get it that she doesn’t want me to know, and I’m not some asshole who’d go spying in her wallet when she was sleeping), but I know she’s over 40, and I know Jim is 3 years older than her…and he didn’t look rich enough to have much of a chance with a 27 year old chick.
“Merry Christmas,” I said, still outside.
“Yessir. Hunter Block.”
I put out my hand for him to shake. The first thing I judge a dude by is his handshake: Jim’s wasn’t exactly one of those cold dead fish you sometimes get, but his grip was pretty weakass and he didn’t look me in the eye when he took my hand. So he wasn’t making too good an impression on me neither.
He finally let me in the house, where Joyce was in the kitchen trying to get the cooking order of all the Trader Joe’s stuff straight. After she looked at the instructions on everything we bought, she said it was a good thing she got two ovens and a big microwave as part of the remodel.
So it was just me and Jim in the living room. Moomoo and Numnums were in the guest room; I was already hoping they were tearing up Jim’s clothes.
After I took off my hoodie and hung it in the coat closet I grabbed myself a beer from the ice bucket Joyce always has out when I’m there for a meal. It was a Trader Joe’s dark. I reckoned that if we were going to do the whole Christmas Eve dinner from Trader Joe’s, we had to go all-out and give the “Trader José“ beer a shot. The lager looked watery in the bottle, so I decided to try the dark. It’s…ok.
“I see you’re used to making yourself at home,” Jim said.
What the fuck do you say to a stupidass question like that?
“I reckon I do, sir,” I said, with a shrug as I was opening the bottle and taking a few very big sips I really needed after the day I had at the store. “Joyce doesn’t mind.”
“You drink pretty fast too.”
“Hard day at work,” I said. “Christmas Eve in retail can be pretty stressful, sir. There were a lot of people doing their last-minute shopping at the last minute.” I was about to say “last fuckin minute,” but I stopped myself.
“Where do you work?”
“At the Gap.”
“Oh.” Y’all can imagine exactly what tone he said that in.
And y’all know where he can take his fuckin superior attitude.
“The store’s right down here on Colorado. That’s our main street. It’s where they have the Rose Parade, so you might have seen in on TV.” I’ll admit that I kinda guzzled my first beer and was ready for a second…only I got the feeling that Jim was gonna get all judgy if I opened a second one too quickly, and I was still hoping he might like me.
Jim is one of those assholes who criticize everything and are never pleased with anything. The flight was terrible, the flight attendants were rude, the car Joyce sent to pick him up was late, the driver didn’t speak English and wouldn’t help with the luggage, and so on.
And he totally didn’t get the joke of the Trader Joe’s Christmas Eve.
“You know I have a Trader Joe’s five minutes from the house,” he said after Joyce brought out what me and her reckoned were the appetizers. “I could have had all this stuff without having to get on an airplane.”
Both me and Joyce know that the point of his trip was Hawaii. Him and Joyce were only having a family Christmas because this was a good place to break the trip without needing to pay for a hotel.
We were right about the Trader Joe’s stuff: some of it wasn’t bad at all (Joyce really liked the mushroom and truffle flatbread, and I made a note to buy some of the sweet corn tamales next time I was in there), some of it was ok (the macaroni and cheese…although it’s hard to totally fuck up macaroni and cheese), and some of it really sucked (like this one Indian thing we got with spinach and lumps of some kind of weirdass cheese that a woman in the store told us was real good; dang was she wrong, but we got a good laugh out of it.)
The real highlight was the almost Moo-on Pie sundaes. Even if Jim seemed like he was out to ruin them for me.
“What’s this thing on the bottom?,” he asked, messing the stuff in his bowl around like there was something wrong with it.
“A Moon Pie,” I answered, kinda proudly.
“Remember Scooter Pies from when we were kids?,” Joyce asked.
Jim grunted. He obviously didn’t remember. Not that I knew what a Scooter Pie was either.
“A Moon Pie is layers of cake that’s kinda like a soft graham cracker and marshmallow covered in chocolate.” Total silence from the fucktard. “It’s a Southern thing.”
“Oh,” he said. Fuck him double with his assholeass ‘oh’’s. “So you’re eating Southern now, Joyce?”
“Yes. We have biscuits for breakfast and everything.” I thought it was real cool of Joyce to rub Jim’s jerkoffass nose in the fact that I was around for breakfast.
“I guess you need to make your pretty boy feel at home.”
Y’all know how much I like being called pretty boy. I told myself maybe he’d drunk too much Trader Joe’s wine, so I didn’t call him on it. But I didn’t stick around too much longer, either. Once I finished my sundae (and I wasn’t lettin no one ruin that for me), I headed home. It wasn’t just that I didn’t like Jim; I was dang tired from my almost 12 hour day in the store. I went straight to bed when I got home. I didn’t bother with a shower or even pajamas: I just took off my clothes and got into bed in the boxers I was already wearing. I almost never do that.