Monday, November 20, 2006

Home for the holidays

I'm en route to my parents' house today. It used to be that when I went back for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I expected a quiet few days of reading and napping, with some civilized beers with high school friends thrown into the mix.

That has changed in recent years.

Oh, sure, I'm carrying the new translation of The Aeneid, and I have every intention of getting some work done. My good intentions will be held prisoner by reality.

Take last Christmas. A night out at the bar segued into an afterparty at the empty home of some guy several years younger than the rest of us. The night ended with a mounted bass smashed to smithereens and a raid on the kitchen of our gullible host, who promptly flipped out and screamed for everyone to leave his house. That same trip, my sister's two dogs trashed my parents' bedroom: they shredded a mattress and boxsprings and nearly murdered three cats. My mother, who has watched Babe a few too many times, expressed dismay that the cats and dogs couldn't learn to get along.

A couple years earlier I assumed afterparty responsiblities. I brought a crew home for some 2 a.m. ice skating, waking my future brother-in-law by jumping on his bed, and then rousing my sister with a chorus of taunts shouted from the living room.

My father was not amused, but none of our fathers are amused. Earlier this century there was an infamous hot tub party at a friend's house that precipitated another pissed-off dad to come downstairs and throw everyone out.

On quiet nights, we have bicycle thievery, snowball fighting, and a flirtatious hillbilly psychic who tries to read palms. One evening, 30 of us showed up in a redneck bar to enjoy some fiddling. We shut the place down. Another morning I woke up on a couch with my wristwatch torn apart.

People will hook up with former classmates. Married girls will hit on single boys. Housepets will run wild. Fathers will storm and mothers will weep.

It should be an interesting week.

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