Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like "you know what"

I am writing this as I sit in the gilded gondola shaped bed in the Venetian bedroom at Mt. Vermin looking out at a cold and brilliantly blue gray sky. (the same color of my favorite cashmere sweater, the one with the buttons in the shape of Felix the Cat) In the distance I see the regal National Cathedral and to its left the Washington Monument in all its turgid majesty. It is one of those days that it seems better to put on your moose pyjamas and a powdered wig, stay in bed by the fire and read or jabber on the phone while channel surfing. I choose the later.
I spoke to Mazeppa earlier, she telephoned to tell me all about her new million dollar idea, It seems she wants to develop a television show that combines cooking with rap music as a vehicle for her new protege -a certain MC Puff Pastry- and wanted to pick my brain for ideas. The conversation then drifted to how our Thanksgivings were and our plans for the upcoming holidays with our dear and somewhat extended families. (She and Puff are planning to start a new tradition that they call Malcolm X-mas, sounds cheery)
Kicking off the Frette sheets, I told Mazeppa that "As my heart is really more into the whole winter solstice thing- a far more honest pagan festival..."- I was still weighing my choices regarding Christmas and the New Years eve. "What about spending it with the family?" she asked. Thoughtfully twirling the hair on my feet, I pondered the question, answering with a simple sigh.
As a rule, spending the holidays with my family is charming and picturesque, in many ways just like the "Sound of Music"… (only Julie Andrews gets torn apart by wild animals) and in the wake of the recent holiday, all in all Thanksgiving seems to have gone on without a hitch.
Of course it is pretty easy holiday as the most rewarding part of Thanksgiving is the food, On Christmas an exchange of gifts precedes the holiday dinner. At Passover, the Seder is organized around prayers and readings. Kwanzaa consists of seven days of activities such as candle-lighting and gift giving, But Thanksgiving isn't a holiday like those, it's all about the food glorious food- and the competition to determine who's worked the longest, whose spent the most money, or made the healthiest salt free, sugar free apricot chestnut stuffing. Thanksgiving is essentially an indoor Olympiad for those people who cook, (I always have my score cards handy to hold up during the meal) and I will tell you one thing, all of the gals- and some of the guys- in my family can cook. (I never understood why my brother would only eat spaghetti and hot dogs -off his favorite Fiestaware- at Thanksgiving, but he always was a bit queer- but not in the good way.)
The rest of the holiday season however, one must proceed as if walking through an emotional mine field. In Christian Louboutin pumps. Blindfolded. Wearing a big jaunty hat. With a pterodactyl on it.
Secretly, I've always looked forward to this theatre of the absurd, learning at an early age that is is better to assume the role of observer to the relative chaos (Relative, get it?) -while actively participating in it- in order to keep ones sanity, as the failure to do so inevitably leads to violence. (did you know that blood and cranberry sauce are two very different shades of red?)
Speaking of relatives, even though they like the men to believe that they are the heads of the household, with my kith and kin it's the women who really are the ones that wear the dicks in the family. (a kind of Cosa Nostra/Cosi fan tutti thing) At any given holiday, while the men all strut about like peacocks, comparing the cut of their suits, the flash of their jewels and the size of their cars, the women all gather together to compare notes and cooking skills and otherwise plot each others fates.

The love/hate relationships are always the most fun to watch as they stretch out over the years, my Great Grandmother "Tick Tock" and my Grandmother "Miz Hyacinth" had the best and the worst relationship ever. E v e r. Tick Tock was the last of her kind, very proper, very Victorian in thought and deed, while Miz Hyacinth was the prototype wild child, bobbing her red hair and rouging her knees, and, much to Tick Tocks horror, becoming a Ziegfeld girl during her madcap flaming youth. (A career that came to a screeching halt when she met and married my Grandfather "Blackie", but Hyacinth always kept a photo of herself on stage next to Tick Tocks wedding photo just to be bitchy)

The eternal battle between them was absolutely biblical- the were locked in battle from the day Hyacinth was born it seems, but decidedly the art of interior decoration proved to be the perfect venue for their most creative acts of vengeance.

It all started years ago when Tick Tock was on yet another Grand Tour during the holiday season, without Miz Hyacinth. So in her absence Hyacinth had Tick Tocks stately and historic townhouse in New Orleans redecorated very prettily indeed, with masses of white and glowing pastels. The Chippendale pieces had been smartly pickled and the Dutch marquetry work sprayed white, Hyacinth had the Gainsborough in the Adam room replaced with a large study of herself in white crepe de chine posing with two Russian wolfhounds a white Pekingese and a white swan. The bedroom that had previously held a suite of period Louis seizième furnishings now sported glass furniture from India with a mirrored ceiling above the hot pink heart shaped bed.

Finding the drawing room a bit too sterile, Hyacinth had all the Boule furniture sprayed a delicate pink, scattering festive beaded sateen cushions, in shades of cyclamen, on all the sofas that were now covered in lettuce green and shell pink faux giraffe. The big polar bear rug was especially noteworthy when dyed a soft lavender/rose, the hand painted wallpaper in the halls was steamed off and replaced with blue tinted mirror etched with scenes from the Kama Sutra and as a final flourish, all of the telephones were covered with large french dolls with hoop skirts. Although Tick Tock suffered a severe emotional setback upon returning from abroad and stayed away from the townhouse for the rest of her life, it was years before she could get her revenge- when she did it was the antithesis of simplicity really, taking advantage of Hyacinth being away in rehab- um, I mean Rehoboth beach, she had her driver take her to Hyacinth's pied a terre, she toddled up to the front door, turned on the water hose, put the nozzle through the mail slot and then turned and drove away leaving only a fluffy pink cloud of satiety in her wake... well, that and a sunken living room. Indeed. That is. As it were.

Seeing that the old saying goes something like "the apple never falls far from the tree," even I quite enjoy petty torments of my own design. I think it is always fun to punish the person or persons in the family that have been particularly naughty or bitchy during the previous year or years through the gift giving process. Some of my favorites are to "accidentally" give the impression that a male relative is a closeted transvestite by giving them a satin negligee with a note enclosed that says "I understand" or start a rumour early in the season that so and so is simply mad about collecting "Precious Moments" figurines or horridly sweet scented candles, only to reel with that certain inner giddiness when upon the Christmas eve presentation of gifts, all of their presents have wicks and smell like the inside of grandmas purse or are ghastly "A Family Of Love, A Gift From Above" figurines. I know, it reeks of mal incarné, but I just cant help it, I feel as though I am helping their karmic debt by speeding up the process.

A toast to the home front!

The Karma Killer

1 oz Grey Goose vodka
1 oz dark rum
1 oz Everclear
1/4 oz triple sec
1/4 oz peach brandy
1 oz orange juice
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz grapefruit juice

Pour the hooch, triple sec and peach brandy into a highball glass 3/4 filled with ice cubes. Add the fruit juices, stir well, and serve.

(I really love these cartoons - they were produced for the troops during WWII by the Warner Bro. people. All of them are very racy for their time and never released to the general public)

1 comment:

chicagoreserve said...

I know who your grandmother was and she was infamous! Didn't she burn her mothers plantation down?

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