Saturday, December 20, 2008

...And A Bah Humbug to You Bitches, Too

It seemed like such a neat solution; and on the face of it, it was. My brother and sister-in-law live in wack ass Spokane, Washington: a town with little to recommend it apart from their presence. Conversely, it has a lot of items in the debit column, the most prominent [for my purposes] being its notorious reputation for flight jackassery. To wit: it is impossible to fly there, from any city, in any season, for less than 400 bucks. Before my parents retired and moved away from there, they'd lived in Spokane for about six years, and every year I try in vain to score a cheap ticket. I came up snake eyes every motherfucking time. And then my brother joined the Air Force and suffered the colossally shit luck to be stationed -- his very first base! -- right back in dreary ass Spokane, so really, he's lived there, like, twelve years or some nonsense. So if you want to see him, you gotta deal with this, like, cosmic slap and get ripped off by every airline that deigns to fly there. I hate that fucking town!


Now, as you know, I'm a salty bitch at the best of times; and I run from sentimentality and raw emotion like the unrepentant Scrooge I am, but when it comes to the holidays, I usually try to rein in the vitriol and suck it up for the fam. Obviously, this year, it is more important than ever that my brother, father and I get together and lean each other. I'm anxious to see them, I really am.

But the problem is, Christmas is also my birthday. So for every Xmas in living memory, except for the few times I was just way too broke to fly home, I've spent the day with the family, milling around in my pajamas, drinking motherfucking mulled wine, eating stuffing and generally wondering how the hell my life got away from me. Eh, whatever. Part of growing up is realizing that no one gives as much of a crap about your birthday as you do. I had just started to reconcile myself to the idea that I was never, ever going to have a glamorous birthday with friends for the rest of my natural life but instead would, once a year, re-enter some timeless zone of arrested development wherein I choked down too-sweet birthday cake and rationalized around the dinner table whatever life choice was currently causing my parents to worry and brother to ridicule me and then I would fly back to the future and my grown up home in Minneapolis or London or Portland or wherever and my real life would start up again.

Let me say this -- I have never, in my life, had a great birthday*. I've had great Christmases, but as birthdays go, I usually just try to forget that it's even happening.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I'm dramatically delicious, obviously. But also because the bittersweet anticipation I'm feeling at reuniting with my brother and father this year has of late been decisively tipped over into the wholly bitter column.

A few months ago, my brother decided that it was not worth it for him and his wife to fly out to North Carolina (where my parents lived/Dad still lives) for the holiday, because he doesn't have much time off work and cross-country airfare for two people is no joke. "Cool, cool," Pops Jugo and I say. "Sometimes life intrudes." We told Li'l Bro Jugo to stay in Washington, and go spend the holiday with his wife's parents. Since my mom died, my dad has [understandably] not wanted to spend a lot of time in the house by himself, and he's spend the last couple of months on the road: visiting friends and family, and just generally trying to talk life back into his soul. But he's tired, now, and he wants to be home in Durham. He didn't feel like travelling for Christmas. I was cool with that. I planned to go ahead and spend the holiday with Pops in North Cackalacka.

At some point, Brian decided that it would be great for us to go ahead and all gather, but since he can't leave Spokane, Pops and I should come to Washington. Now, I live in L.A., so even though I hate Spokane, it's going to take me a lot less time to fly up the coast than to fly cross-country, so I was tentatively cool with this new plan. Dad wasn't too happy about it, but Brian pre-empted his arguments by just buying him a ticket, anyway. Ok, so we're all up to speed, right? Christmas 2008 is going to be in Spokane. We're all set.

Only we're not all set, because as I mentioned at the beginning, flying into
Spokane is irrationally expensive. Sometime in the last month or so, I get the idea that I'd like to drive up to Washington instead of flying. I have a new car that gets great gas mileage [plus gas is now 50% cheaper than it was this summer], and I can use this opportunity to stop and see some friends in San Francisco and Iron Fist in Portland. I was thinking that, no, winter driving is not ideal for long distances, but what the hell: I grew up in fucking Wyoming and lived for ten years in Minneapolis, so snow and cold are not completely fucking unknown to me. I can handle this. I got AAA and a cooler full of snacks? I'm straight.

But for the past four weeks, my brother and dad have been hounding me non-stop about the driving. Over and over again. Texts and calls. Texts and calls. Over and over. Never leaving me alone about the fucking driving. And I would just like to state for the record that I get it, ok? It's less than 8 months ago that our beautiful Tina lost control of her car on slick roads and left us all behind, so I know that the prospect of me taking to the mean streets was not exactly an appealing proposition for them. Finally, I snapped. I bought a plane ticket. It cost me approximately one billion dollars, but I did it. Because I love my family and I don't want them to worry. And because my brother was using up my measly text message allowance with his fucking harping. I caved. Got a ticket that will get me in on Monday and take off on Friday.

Only now that's a fucking problem for Li'l Bro Jugo, because he has decided that, actually, we're all -- him, his wife, my dad, and me -- going to spend Christmas with his wife's family...a lovely couple who don't actually live in Spokane. I've met my sister-in-law's parents twice and I like just fine but don't actually know them that well, but there goes Li'l Bro Jugo, asking anyway could I maybe change my flight to leave a little bit later thanks so that no one has to get up too early and take me to the airport?

I have had it with Li'l Bro Jugo, y'all. I want you to try (you'll fail, but try anyway) to imagine the unscaleable heights of my fury after getting off the phone with my brother this morning. I just spent a truly appalling amount of money buying a last-minute ticket to a town that's famed for being appallingly expensive to fly into at the best of times (there's never a best of times in Spokane) only to find out that I've inconveniently messed with the schedule for his holiday celebration in some small-town hamlet with people I barely know? Are you fucking telling me that you have unilaterally decided that I AM SPENDING MY FUCKING BIRTHDAY AT A STRANGER'S HOUSE and I should arrange to leave later so that we can all stay LONGER AND so no one has to get up early? IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE FUCKING TELLING ME?

Tina, I love my brother. I really do. But if you don't step down from heaven into this situation and work on your child, I am going to punch my way through his face.


*ask me about the time my parents forgot that it was my birthday and I had to make my own cake...from a mix...and the mix my dad got was for pineapple upside down cake, my most hated cake flavor in the world!
< /span>

3 comments:

Electric Mayhem said...

This just fucking blows. I had great hopes that - after a truly shitty year - you'd spend your birthday/Christmas with the fam, but now HER family is involved?! WTF? If ever there was a year for quiet togetherness, this was it. Bah! Families. I swear. We'd do away with them if they weren't, you know, family.

We will celebrate the awesomeness that is Broccoli when we're all back. And in the future, I have great hopes that you and Iron Fist will spend a blissful birthday on a beach in Hawaii with nary a mention of the baby Jesus.

Leeschwa- MissDangerPants said...

That's all total crap. Surely your bro is a big enough boy to understand you have a life, too, and a birthday to boot? And surely he understands you forked over a lot of cash to get a ticket to do things his way? I'd be like, "You know what? The only birthday present I ask of you is that you understand that since I paid out the arse to get here and am spending Christmas, which happens to be MY BIRTHDAY, TOO, with a bunch of people I really don't know- although don't get me wrong, I do like them (why start an out-and-out family feud, right?)-is to not expect me to change my flight plans and to get your rearend out of bed- and whoever else's is involved- and get me to the airport when the time comes- the time I ALREADY BOOKED."

But crap, actually it was only a couple years ago I finally got the guts to tell my parents I'm their daughter, not a taxi and not one of those blue-hat wearing UN peacekeepers for them. So, I totally understand your predicament. WTF with family sometimes anyway?

(We can always drive up to Spokane and rescue you...)

Hope it goes OK, really. I know you lost your Mom and it'll be a tough year. Been thinking about you.

Anonymous said...

You know I'm not one to lecture or run on, but like my aunt dolly says, if you don't got anything nice to say, come sit next to me!

See your family and go back to LA. No changing your ticket again, and you know who will understand the most, Gracie.

Much love.