You can’t go home again?
That’s definitely not true
because at Christmas you can always only go home
And sometimes it’s real grisly:
stories of arthritic eyes and black spots
and tumors and cancers and angina
and heart attacks
for the twelve very merry days of Christmas
or stories of my best friend Doug
who stabbed his Daddy to death
and left his body under the Christmas tree until March
with Rex, the good ole’ family dog
Now Doug was schizoid, but so was his Daddy
so I guess it was only just a matter of time,
to see which delusion won out:
or Merry Christmas Dad From Hell.
Or I’m out shopping with my Mother,
buying her a spanking new Toshiba TV
with close-captioning and digital ports galore
for a happy multi-media future,
and she suddenly says:
“Did you see the manager of the store?
Well, a few weeks ago,
his wife went down to the highway
and threw herself in front of a transport truck.
Left three children. Sort of sad… I guess.”
This was just after we drove by the house
of the family doctor,
the one who had acid thrown on his face
during a happy yuletide season past
by an unhappy patient hiding in the back of his car after a housecall.
And it was just after our next door neighbour
of many years
said goodnight to his wife, had a last drink
with the boys down at the Legion
turned on all the lights in the house,
went into the basement
and blew his head off with a .410 double-barrelled shotgun.
Three months later his oldest son,
with whom he never had good relations anyway
did the very same thing.
Drove his girlfriend to work,
getting out of the car
she said: “See you later.”
He said: “Maybe”
And he was right
Because on the same day
he killed himself over his father’s grave
Same gun, Different shells.
Happy New Year
It’s New Year’s Eve at the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Montreal. The usual for a nostalgia-flavored party staged by the local oldies’ radio station.
It could be a high school reunion or a one-night cruise on the Good Ship Lollipop. Nothing new, everything old except, of course, we’re celebrating a New Year.
Everyone is dressed for the occasion with lots of shimmer and shine. But one outfit really does stand out. It’s a woman wearing a sweater that spells out “Happy Holidays” in large battery-operated flashing neon letters.
And it’s a big inspiration to us all, a kind of talisman taking us into the New Year. Fat guys begin to dance on tables, conga lines form and snake their way around the ballroom floor, empty champagne glasses are pyramided thirty high on tables filled with sparklers and red, blue and gold noisemakers, and the Pink Cadillacs get us to dance with their golden oldies’ tunes, from Danny and the Juniors’ “At the Hop” to Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire”.
Of course, no one mentions that Danny slit his throat one night in a motel room, and left a note saying that he just couldn’t stand singing that song one more time.
We all know what happened to Elvis.
And Jerry Lee Lewis? Well, there is all that talk about his dead wives.
A frightening ritual of fake ecstasy and real nostalgia.