It never fails. Inevitably, I end up in a group setting where people are exchanging stories about their childhood, stories of mom’s cookies, Santa Claus, and sunny bike rides through picket-fenced neighborhoods. It’s usually a group of nice, normal people.
One woman, smiling as if chocolate has no calories, says something like, “At Christmas, my Uncle Jack would dress like Santa and fill our stockings.” Everyone laughs that warm, sort of fake chuckle of agreement.
Someone adds, “My grandmother made the best gingerbread men.” The people around her nod in agreement because they understand what grandma-made gingerbread men taste like.
People tend to become uncomfortable when it is my turn to share because I offer things like, “I remember one Christmas when my mother knocked over our plastic Christmas tree and screamed, ‘MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS!’ There were glass fragments and tinsel everywhere.” Everyone gives me the sideways dog look of confusion. So, I just take a sip of wine and give a little smile.
At this point, I should just be quiet. But no. I go on. “Yeah, and then she stole her boyfriend’s credit card because she found out he was married. We Christmas shopped the heck out of that Eckerd Drug Store.” I take a gulp or three of my wine and look down.
Usually, some smart person changes the subject. Someone in the group might mention a recent trip to Disney World. Someone else chimes in with, “We took the twins there over the summer. The humidity about choked us, but the girls really loved meeting all of the princesses.” Some people nod and smile.
Hearing the words “Disney” and “Princesses” brings up another childhood memory. EVERYONE takes a drink as soon as they see my lips move. “I shit my pants on Main Street when I was 4.” I stop, and take a big gulp of wine, noting that I am almost out. “Yeah. I was on antibiotics or something, and we all know what they do to your bowels.” I go on. “My mom cleaned me up in the bathroom. She was able to get most of it off of me. Then, she brought me back outside and Snow White was there. Snow White gave me a hug even though I probably smelled shitty. Those Disney princesses are great.”
I can almost hear people thinking, “Oh dear lord, she is talking about pooping herself in Mickey land. Can she just shut up?” People begin looking away, hoping if they avoid eye contact I will stop sharing my 1970’s afterschool special memories. Others leave. This is my gift – making people cringe. It will go on my tombstone along with “She did laundry.”