So as part of our winter cleaning and destuffication campaign, I went through my remaining records, pulled half of them and a friend, thrilled, took them home. Probably 300 or 400 albums worth. (Ever behind the trends, I’m all about CDs and YouTube rather than vinyl). I used to have thousands of records. Anyway, our friend, who we’ve known for decades, works for a place that does the plants in office buildings and traditionally shows up at our tree trimming party with gobs of reject ornaments. As we haven’t had a party in a while, he had a big pile of undelivered ornaments, like six big bags full. Each ornament was individually wrapped for their protection, and being a total stoner, he’d apparently smoked a joint (or joints) and, armed with rolls of glass tape and acres of bubble wrap, had wrapped each in layers of protection that would not only keep them intact until the next party but through any nuclear holocausts that happened in the interim. Indeed, I could have buried these secure in the knowledge that thousands of years from now they would utterly mystify an archeologist. Instead, though, I decided they had to be unwrapped. So, armed with a couple pair of scissors, a fading alpha male’s finger strength and sheer determination, I spilled the dozens of weird looking Christmas cocoons onto the living room floor and began the process slicing, tearing, pulling, yanking and cursing them open.
All the ornaments emerged unscathed but one, a longest thing that I thought I’d pulled apart from it layers of wrapping but alas its pointy Yuletide tip was still held by glass tape and as I tugged the tip exploded like a mortar shell, spraying hard plastic like jagged plastic shrapnel. I sharp piece caught me just below the eye—a fraction of an inch higher and I would have one of the more novel cases in the emergency room that night—but when I realized what had happened (it took me several seconds to realize that a Christmas ornament had exploded, as Christmas ornaments don’t generally explode), I carefully searched for the fragments, which were surprisingly jagged and sharp as a razor. The scene cleared, I stretched out again on the floor and proceeded to dissect the packages with various degrees of skill and violence. After a half hour I sat up and felt wetness on my hand. You’re bleeding everywhere, Fyl said. It certainly looked like that, big broadbrushed smears of blood running up and down from my elbow, my shirt and pants soaked and splattered like a particularly nasty murder had occurred. You’re still bleeding, she said, and after trying to wipe some of the blood off me, retrieved a few bandaids. That stemmed the flow. I found a shard of plastic on the floor, especially sharp, that had caused the wound. I’d never felt it, just obliviously bled all over everything. Ha. Anyway, bleeding stemmed, I got back down on the floor to go at the rest of the ornaments, pausing only to brew up a steaming cup of coffee and then returned prone to the floor, where I managed to knock over the cup which spilled its entirety all over my back and the seat of my pants. Ha again. I swabbed the floor with a handy kerchief but let the remainder thoroughly soak my backside, I mean why not?
At last, all the ornaments freed of their mummification, I got them all into two bags which I got into the space I’d just made available in my closet. All the wrappings I got into a single large outdoor garbage bag. Thus went Christmas in January. Or almost. While prepping for bed, after flossing and brushing, I took my traditional elixir of mint oil and water, very handy for the digestion. The oil comes in a little dropper bottle with a cheery mint green label, and I always drop about half a dozen of the intensely minty drops into a little bright red plastic dixie cup where they float, shimmering, on the surface of the water. It was all very Christmasy. One has to be careful with mint oil, though, it burns like the juice of a canned jalapeño, and as I raised the cup to my lips as I’ve done without incident thousands of times before my hand slipped somehow and I spilled it all with perfect precision onto my unprotected scrotum. That was an erotic experience that was new to me, sort of like the opposite of a very strong orgasm. I mean it rendered me just as speechless, and with the same urge to shriek, but instead I just gritted my teeth and thought of baseball. Several minutes passed and the sensation passed from paralyzing to merely stinging, from agony to annoying. It all seemed too perfect, the blood, the coffee, the mint oil on the scrotum. Merry Christmas, I said.