Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebrating Holidays Wade Rouse Style--by Laughing with Food in Your Mouth (Event is Tuesday, Feb. 8th, 7 PM)

My holiday stories are boring. One of my sisters won the Thanksgiving sweepstakes but the other sister certainly wishes it was at her house. Merrill simultaneous wants to host but sort of complains about it. But she can’t complain too much, or she’d have to give it up, right?

There are some turkey-appropriate table settings. The dishes don’t vary much from year to year, like most folk’s holidays. Some guests will bring a dish, and either it will be liked or not. If it’s liked, we will genuinely compliment it. If not, we will ingenuously compliment it and complain later.

But laughs? Not likely.

Similarly, there’s not much to be said for other holiday rituals. Being Jewish, many of my family memories revolve around Passover. When my maternal grandfather was alive, he would do a complete service. People paid some attention before the meal, but afterwards, not so much. Other variations involved a little editing. My father liked to play a Richard Tucker album. Sometimes we’d take a very, very long journey to my aunt and uncle’s.

What could be said? You liked the food and complimented or you didn’t like the food and complimented it.

And birthdays? My mother invited kids over. When I was young my sisters helped out. On a good year, there was Ebinger’s Chocolate Blackout Cake. Back then, my compliments on the food would be genuine, but not I’d probably prefer a butter cream frosting to that fudge. One year my neighbor Carol didn’t go. She was too old to attend, but I didn’t get it at the time. I saw her playing outside. I was sad. Not much of a story, really.

That’s just one of the many reasons why I didn’t write It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine, and Wade Rouse did.

Here are just ten of the reasons why Rouse’s holiday stories are better than anything I could tell you.

1. Admits to buying bad presents. Discovers repercussions. Two traps to watch out for are Valentine’s Day and your anniversary, though Swedish Day also can be a problem.

2. Admits to tipping badly on Chinese New Year’s. Discovers repercussions.

3. Drinks a lot to hide his shame on St. Patrick’s Day. Discovers repercussions.

4. Mardi Gras? Same.

5. Discovers that boyfriend Gary’s Easter rituals are even stranger than his own, but not as disturbing.

6. It is best to check out the nightlife (or at least the average age of the inhabitants) of a town before planning a spring break getaway.

7. A good way to celebrate Secretary’s Day is with a very creepy job memory. See, I have blocked all those out and the amount of therapy it would cost to unlock them is beyond my means.

8. While a group of openly gay men might not mind their baseball team being sponsored by the local Mary Kay Cosmetics salesman, it might be an issue to young boys, whether straight or closeted gay.

9. There are probably a lot of good Halloween stories out there, but I’m not willing to dress up in costume to find them. When you live outside of Saugatuck, however, you might not have a choice.

10. Barbie’s birthday is a holiday in many cultures and should be celebrated as such.

And what did I learn about myself, besides that I can’t spell “repercussions”? It’s that I’m really looking forward to Wade Rouse’s talk on Tuesday, February 8th, at 7 PM. As funny as the book is to read, I’m guessing that he’s even funnier in person.

So we celebrate tomorrow, a wonderful occasion--the publication of Wade Rouse's new book, It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine. A toast to Wade, or at least a new outfit for Barbie (and I haven't even mentioned our shared interest in Pez dispensers).

Rouse will be speaking at Boswell on Tuesday, February 8th, co-sponsored by Winkie's of Whitefish Bay. After having read two of his books and spoken to folks who've heard him at Next Chapter, I know it's going to be a very, very funny event.

Tomorrow: Jocelyn and I head to Winkie's to buy decorations!

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