I didn’t write yesterday. I’m not willing to consider that a failure, however, because I’m sure at some point I will post two entries in one day and it will all even out.
Thank you to the lovely ladies who clued me in on menfolk and Christmas tree lights. I hold to my litmus for the next chap (if there ever is one), however, especially if he doesn’t do much else in terms of holiday prep.
Not that my ex-husband was a sourpuss. He liked to decorate the tree, just not deal with the lights, and being a budding biology teacher with an interest in paleobotany he knew his trees, so he was great at picking them out. He was also just subversive enough that when Fairfax County passed an idiotic law banning live Christmas trees in apartments back at the turn of the century, he not only announced that we would openly defy the law, we would do so with the biggest, fattest tree we could manage, and so we did. That tree was so fat, we had to rig it up with hooks and twine from the walls and ceiling just to make sure it wouldn’t topple over, because if it did, it might have gone right through the sliding glass doors out onto the balcony and we really didn’t feel like paying for that.
Our defiance of the law resulted in a ganked-up car trunk, however. See, my ex had this little tradition where he saved the part of the tree trunk the vendor cuts off for a “fresh-cut” so the tree can drink. I thought it was a charming tradition, especially because most of the cuts were only about an inch thick. At one point I mused that we should save all of them and figure out a way to paint, shellac, and turn them into ornaments so that by the time we were in our 70s (or I was in my 70s and he was in his 60s because I was cradle-robber like that) we’d have over three dozen ornaments from all of our trees.
So we got our big, fat, law-breaking tree, or, more accurately, he got our big, fat, law-breaking tree and saw to the details while I wandered off to look at all the pretty, sparkling things because I’m a Libra and if there is something nice to look at within a 30-yard radius, I have to go and investigate. Point is, I didn’t see what went on in terms of manly-man Christmas tree things. I hopped into the car, chattering about trimming our first tree as a married couple, and when he made the first turn on our route home, there was a THUNK-thunk-thunk.
We thought it was a flat, but when we pulled over the tires were all fine. No changes in pressure, no weird warping. We hadn’t hit an unfortunate critter or left the tree somewhere on Route 50, either.
Yet every time we made a turn, THUNK-thunk-thunk.
We put up the tree that night (including my doing the lights, thank you very much), and that was that.
The next day the tires were still fine and he took the car to work without any problems.
A few days later we went out to do some shopping and there it was again. THUNK-thunk-thunk.
“What the hell IS that?” I said.
“I have no idea.”
“Maybe you should take the car in.”
“Nah, I don’t think it’s anything.”
“Hon, listen to it. Every time you make a turn, there’s a thunking noise. Has it been doing this all week?”
“Well, yeah, but–”
“Please just take the car in. It’s under warranty.”
“I’ll look at it later. We’re here now, so let’s just do our shopping.”
A short eternity later—I’m convinced that Hell is an outlet mall during the holidays—we emerged from our venture with plenty of gifts to wrap up and send off. He popped the trunk open, and just as I was about to set my shopping bags down, there it was, the source of the THUNK-thunk-thunk.
“Uh, hon?” I said. “What is that?”
“It’s from the tree.”
“The Christmas tree?” I asked, rather stupidly.
“Yeah, from the fresh-cut.”
For lo, before me was not a slim bit of pine to cherish as a keepsake of our first Christmas tree as husband and wife, but a Yule log. No kidding, this thing was about 8 or 9 inches long and about 6 inches in diameter—and every time we made a turn it had rolled around in the trunk, which, when I looked closer, had globs of sap everywhere.
“Okay, well, we’ll throw it out when we get home,” I said.
“What? No! We can’t! It’s from our tree!”
“What are we going to do with that? I mean, really.”
That was my ex. Mr. Sentimental. But still, sap. Sap everywhere. It was like we were the Tree Mafia and had stashed our victim’s severed limbs for transport to the river.
I looked at him, prepared to make a point about getting sap all over everything every time we had to put something in the trunk.
Okay, now remember what I said about investigating things that were nice to look at? That’s how I ended up with him in the first place, and he stood before me now, huge blue eyes like saucers in his face, and I caved. Not only did we keep the log in the trunk, we put it in a bag until it dried out, and for the rest of our marriage, every time we turned a corner, THUNK-thunk-thunk. Whenever we drove someone somewhere, they asked what the sound was.
“Did you just get a flat?”
“Did you just hit something?”
“What was THAT?”
And we’d take turns explaining.
“It’s our Yule log. We decided to keep the Christmas spirit all year.”