the best christmas ever.


"did you facebook that girl yet?" uncle mike asked me.
"umm, no, not yet," i said. he sighed in disappointment. "i told her you would message her!"
"okay, okay," i said, "i will."
"what are you drinking?"
"white wine?"
"can i have some?"
"yeah," i said, "i'll get you a glass."

i told him that we should get some beer. he said that it's always cheapest at rite aid, $10.99 for a twelve pack of bottles. he said he would drive to pick up a case. i got in the van, the one my parents used to own, and i asked if he'd quit smoking. he said he had, but that he'll light up one or two if he's been drinking. i asked if he'd gotten a new car stereo, but he said no, he'd had this one for a while.

while he went to rite aid to pick up the heinekens, i went to save mart, as i needed some bleu cheese. i wore my dog hat and my slippers with socks and i didn't give a shit. bleu cheese was pricey, something like $5 or $6 for a small container. even the bags of candies i'd gotten for stockings were expensive, something like $5 a bag. things cost. a woman tried to cut in front of me, but she failed. "there's a line," i told her. she looked behind her and apologized. as i left the store, i thought about the look she gave me, and how quickly it changed. it went from how dare you to oh, i'm so sorry in a matter of seconds.

back in the van, i asked uncle mike about his retirement.

"it's pretty good," he said. "if i stayed another year, it would've been more."
"oh."
"yeah, it's okay."
"so, where's carmina going to school now?"
"a.r.c."
"where'd she go to high school?"
"encina."
"did she like it there?"
"yeah, she liked it. i didn't like it. there's too many blacks."

later in the night, byron's friends arrived. graham told us there would be a lunar eclipse, so we all went outside to look at it. rich and i smoked black & milds.

"didn't you say you read something about how these are really bad for you?"
"yeah," i said. "they're pretty cancerous."
we laughed at that.
"those were the days," i said. "we'd light one of these up, get some big gulps. a big old thing of wild cherry pepsi."
"and mags," he said.
"yeah, high society."
"everyday," he said.

the people who lived across the street from us were standing in front of their house, and they were all looking at the eclipse. the older kid came up to our group, and he was talking to my cousin.

"who lives here?" he asked.
"i do! i live here," i said. we shook hands for the first time, even though we'd lived across the street from each other for three decades.
"do you mind if we light off these fireworks?" he asked.
"no, go for it, man."

at midnight, he lit off the fireworks, these loud little sparks that shot off into the air. everyone clapped and i went back into the house.

"i finally met the dude who lives across the street," i said.
"what about that girl?" rich said.
"umm, no, not her."
"what girl?" may asked.
"there's a girl across the street. he's been looking out his window at her for like the last twenty years."
"umm, no, no," i said.

gina was crying. my mom was trying to sleep but we were all being too loud. leia was talking gibberish to bella. sam didn't mask his disappointment when he found the fantastic mr. fox in his stocking. claire and i impersonated pauly d's meltdown in the jersey shore. we played scattegories, singstar, and catchphrase. we ate pancit, potato salad, ham, walnut and pear salad, layered cake, and corn chowder. the stereo intermittently played sufjan stevens' and john fahey's christmas songs.

before my aunt left, she hugged me and said, "thanks for putting this together, the best christmas ever."
"no problem," i said.

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