Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Have An Ah Oooga Christmas

I spent this evening writing to two men (and I almost typed "boys,") that I have known since I was born. Yes. Born. One is five years older than me, and the other one or two. We grew up on the same street, and there are a lot of memories between us.

I was rather sad this season. Usually I am putting up three trees (one silver,) and making wreaths for myself and friends and sending out these funky cards I make using funny photographs and writing long letters and going over "Christmas Cheer" recipes (Memo to Self: Remember to ask Lee where that Christmas Cocktails Web Page is that we did.) Last weekend, with all that's going on, I spent the Saturday thinking it through and decided to put my big girl pants on and realize I couldn't "do" Christmas this year: Please...and I'm begging you...do NOT write me and say, "But you can do something!" If I'm not doing what I normally do, I'm doing none of it.

Earlier this fall, I went through last year's Christmas and Hannukah card list and really whacked away at it. I am the type who usually gives people a few years to come round, but this time, I thought, "I'm tired of being the one always trying." For some people, it was the end of the trail. I'm pushing them off the life raft. Sink or swim. Find me or not. I don't care anymore. The list is still too big, and I know it's only going to get smaller as each year passes. I did decide the one thing I would do. If someone wrote me a Christmas or birthday card with a message, I would write them back. That, I am honoring.

I had to run an errand recently that was going to take me near my old neighborhood, and I thought, "I know I'm going to write "the guys" this year, so let me swing by and take pictures of our childhood homes." In D.C. you get an odd mix of "JesusMaryand Joseph what happened here? to "Still the same. Norman Rockwell. Let's sing a carol." As I told the guys writing them today, "Our old street is a mix of "trashed out," and "Haitian Disneyland."

I wound up writing them a 13-page Christmas letter that had me laughing. At one point I wrote, "I jut realized that deaths, muggings, robberies, bodies in the road don't exactly scream "Merry Christmas,"and I told them that I was laughing as I wrote that: but I did write them honestly about the changes and things going on lately.

I also wrote them about some shared memories. One winter the older boys got very ambitious and decided to wage a snow war. This was back when Washington still had deep snows. That morning they gathered up empty cardboard boxes and shovels and things to "level" with and actually had a little snow "brick" factory going: filling the boxes with snow and levelling them off and dumping them; using the same techniques you would use to build an igloo, only they were making snow walls. The girls and little ones, myself included, were busy making snowballs and stacking them like cannonballs at either snow fort. I told them, "Nowadays kids would just play this on Wii and that "PlayStation snowballs don't hurt." One's dumped in a bucket of water to give them an ice veneer do.

I reminded the younger of the two men, too, how one summer when I was 14 or 15 and he was 16, we spent that summer on my front porch sucking on grape Kool Aid ice cubes, playing gin rummy. We had quite an addicted group, and I told him "I still have that same deck of cards!" It wasn't until I was getting reading to sign off with a hand written closing that I remembered something else. That gin rummy summer. There was a boy in the neighborhood restoring an old Model T Ford. Their horns were a distinctive klaxon "Ah Ooh Gah" sound. He would drive from his house and pass mine. I was teased that he had a crush on me, because he'd always honk driving by. And to the man I was writing today I said, "You used to constantly tease me that summer and say, "Here comes your boyfriend.....Ah Ooooog AH!"

I went to You Tube, and sure enough. There are tons of videos of young men with these horns in their cars, including one actually punching one in an old Model T. I only remember the horn the boy used in his car had a much more drawn out oooooohga. So I got to thinking. Some of those boys on You Tube? They are popping the hoods and showing you the horn. In one, there are a group of them with their cars in a semi circle having a "honk off" contest. I'm not making this up! Then they start revving their engines in competition.

This is why I love men. Men are so simple and easy to please. One reason, anyway. Buy your honey a horn that sounds like the Queen Mary coming into dock. Or plays the theme from The Godfather. Ladies? If you want your man or boyfriend to go into orgasmic bliss this holiday? Order him a J.C. Whitney automotive parts catalog. Yes, they are online, but you've got to get them the actually catalog. http://www.jcwhitney.com/ This is primo toilet reading. This is where men go to get dice gear shifts and those naked lady mud flaps and chromed skull speakers for the rear windows of their cars.

I turned some men onto the Whitney catalog when I was in my teens? To this day they are still talking about it. Call me Santa Cube, and I do this in memory of my own Ah Ooga boy. I never met him, but I hope he's still out there honking somewhere.



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Blogger Cyndy said...

I remember those snows very well. We took them so seriously back then - as a kid they were kind of life-altering. Most of the kids in my neighborhood had snowsuits and rubber boots. It was so easy to be out all day if you had a snowsuit. We lasted longer than the teenagers.

One year there was a huge drift that spanned two back yards and we built an igloo that had a tunnel leading up into it. You could only get to it from inside the tunnel. It was really warm in there and it's a wonder that we didn't suffocate. The yards were shady so the tunnel and igloo lasted a really long time. When things started to melt we'd build huge dams in the gutters which would freeze overnight. We sure don't get snows like that anymore.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Cyndy: I wrote you a huge response last night then accidentally deleted it. Le sigh. We also made igloos and snow tunnels and iced things up for firmness and to make them last longer. Also crawled in to warm up. And they never did collapse. When I thought about this, I marvelled at childhood engineering skills...and yes, we would "bundle up" and stay out all day. I remember my father would always double check me for layers.

After so much snow thinking last night, I thought of the song, "Snowfall" (as done by Manhattan Transfer,) so that's my holiday gift to you. Snow dreams and snowfall. And that version is on You Tube. :)

2:36 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

It's good to take the season off once in a while, draw a line in the sand. I salute you!

2:13 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Reya: It was a very hard choice to make. I hate putting blinders on my seasons just to get through them. So it goes, right? What I "do" have right now is resolve for the changes I have to make in my life.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Eh - you ain't gonna be getting a card from the Playaz, either...cut backs, you know.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Are you teasing me, Phil? No Playaz card? :(

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snow forts? Brings me back, Cube. It was forts we called them too, not igloos. Sigh.

You'll get your chance tomorrow to remember the good old snowy D.C. days, Cube. Have a glass of egg nog between shoveling bouts.

I'm using this as an opportunity to do all decorating I haven't done.
-- grince

3:54 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Sadly, it's the truth.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: Not sad. I love guys who love looking at skull gear shifts. But then, these were the men of my childhood: dreaming of their hot rod muscle cars...which also explains why I love "Gone in Sixty Seconds" so much.

4:39 PM  

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