“Do you have any memorable Christmas stories?” asked Margo Fish Sunday evening. “I was listening to Prairie Home Companion, which airs Saturday evenings and was rebroadcast today. He told four really funny stories. I felt like my sides would split from laughing.”
My brother Chris, his wife Eva, her son Morgan and his friend Manny were all nestled in Margo’s cottage. Snow was falling lightly outside while we were snug inside snacking on crackers, cheese, shrimp and other refreshments before our planned trek out for dinner at the Lodge.
“Not really,” said Chris. “We rarely celebrated Christmas on Christmas Day as we usually were working. We used to hold the family event a week earlier. I think that the most unusual aspect is that we hung the Christmas tree upside down from the ceiling. The cats were disappointed because they couldn’t get at the ornaments, but the normal way always made it hard for the guests to play pool.”
“Thinking of Christmas trees, a friend had a really amazing experience a few years back that was pretty funny,” said Margo. “A couple had been trying to conceive a baby for several years without success. Shortly before Christmas she went over to Saranac Lake to see her gynecologist and was excited to learn that she was pregnant. She wanted to celebrate and bought a fairly large Christmas tree from a man at one of those stands, which he then tied to the roof of her car.”
“On her way back she spotted the automatic car wash near MacDonald’s and remembered that her car had picked up a lot of road salt and felt it needed a good cleaning, forgetting completely that she had a tree strapped to the roof. Wanting the car to be especially shinny and bright when she arrived home to tell her husband the good news, she put in her credit card and ordered the hot wax special.”
“Once in, all manner of dirt, loose pine needles and bits of bark flowed down her windows. As a teenager she had worked in a carwash and she muttered about how cheap the owners of this carwash were to be using dirty water to clean the cars, clearly the company should be reprimanded for not using clean water.”
“As she drove out of the carwash she saw some kids looking slack jawed at her and her car as if they had never seen a carwash before. ‘Too much inbreeding,’ she thought to herself as she drove out. However when she got home and drove into the parking space next to her house, her husband stared at the car with a bit amazement, as on it was the tree sparkling in its waxed glory with not a dead needle in sight.”
“She, of course laughed uproariously. Later they said they never had a tree that lasted so long in their house.”
I said, “She told me that a few days later she overheard a young boy telling his friend about the most amazing sight of a crazy woman driving out of a carwash with a tree tied to the roof of car. She went over to the boy and said, ‘That crazy woman was me.’”
That lead to a story about getting stuck in a carwash, to talking about the cars we had as teenagers and young adults, MGs, Triumphs, Midgets, Austin Healeys and other fun to drive sports cars, the Whiteface Inn Road being one of the most fun places to drive such cars.
“Naj had painted his MGBGT red, white and blue,” said Eva. “It was a hatchback, a tiny two-seater with a little back seat.”
“One time he had Chris up front in the passenger’s seat, and I was in the back with his girlfriend, I think her name was Nancy,” said Eva.
“Nancy Warren,” I said.
“Plus our paddles, and two canoes on top,” said Eva.
“We used to stuff those cars all the time,” said Chris. “Remember my old Toyota Land Cruiser. I think we had five or six in it. We went around a corner and Tom Lopez just fell out. The door popped open and he was gone.”
“Was he OK?”
“Yes, far better than Otis Glazebrook when he fell off the back of his girlfriend’s Volkswagon. She slammed on her brakes and backed up to see if he was all right and backed right over him. Once she realized what she did, she put it in first and ended up driving over him a second time.”
“Tough crowd back then,” I said. “I once owned Godfrey Dewey’s last car. It was a Ford Fairlaine. It was pretty rusted, but it had quite the engine with over 200,000 miles on it. I called it Golden Rod because it was gold trimmed with rust. I drove it up to Poughkeepsie from New York for a job interview at the Dutchess County Arts Council. They felt that they should interview at least one minority, and assumed by my name I was Indian or something. Long and short, I got the job and later went out to drive home to discover that I had locked my keys in the car. There they were in the ignition. The floor was pretty rusted so I slid under the car, used my pocketknife to slice a hole in the rug, thrust my right arm through and waved it around trying to find the steering column. My friend Kay was with me. I asked her to direct me but she was so convulsed with laughter she could barely speak.”
“Let’s continue this conversation over at the Lodge,” said Margo. And so we did.