Every year for Christmas my husband, friends, and I pick out a tree and trim it at my father’s house. My darling Bob-Villa-wannabe father has been in the midst of home repair projects since the early ’80s and enjoys the bachelor lifestyle. So while the tree may be picturesque, the accoutrements of the backdrop (a poker table, missing molding, bare light switches, and mismatched curtains) are not. Did I mention dust balls the size of small continents? Dust mites that have colonized, hoisted flags and are threatening to secede from the rug?
This year it was just me, my father, and my friend, Sarah. Sarah had recently leapt from the closet (”came out” seems so moored for such a bold move) and I had told my father as much before we arrived. I hadn’t really planned on telling him the news of my pregnancy without my husband, Charles, there (Charles was home trying to pass an eight millimeter kidney stone, poor guy) but I was vomiting pretty regularly and anxious to get the news out in the open. I had been able to puke indiscreetly behind pine trees as we were walking through the Christmas tree farm—”Oh look, do you like that tree waaaaay over there?”—but back at his house, my father was giving me the eye. As in, “How hung over are you?”
My news was especially good because no one thought Charles and I would make it. It took us close to nine years to get to the alter (we had a lovely ceremony, except for the Justice of the Peace who was missing some teeth and spit occasionally while we said our vows). Eight months later, on Halloween night, Charles and I dressed up as a Viking couple (I wore a dress I had worn in college, when the vintage-Goth-bohemian movement was in its heyday). We had a wee bit too much to drink, abandoned our candy-giving posts on the front steps, and adjourned to the bedroom. Viking magic ensued, as did a baby.
Anyway, this is how the big news at the tree trimming party went down…
Me: (green and exhausted) “I think the tree looks great.”
Father: “It sure does.”
Sarah: “Yup. The tree looks great. Just great.”
Father: “Yes, I think we are all in agreement that the tree looks just fine.”
I look at Sarah. She nods to go for it.
Me: “Dad, there’s something I need to tell you.”
Father (looking nervous): “Should I sit down?”
Me: “If you want to.”
Father (looking at Sarah): “Do I need to sit down?”
Me: “I guess it’s a good idea.”
Sarah: “The tree looks really great.”
Father looks strangely at Sarah. Sits.
Me: “Dad, I have some really exciting news…”
Father (again looking at Sarah): “Did you have anything to do with this?”
Me: “Why would Sarah have anything to do with me being pregnant?”
Father (silent, then finally): “Wow. Doesn’t the tree look great?”
I’m dedicating this blog to my brother, in response to his question, “Why can’t you just be normal?” You see, I can’t be normal because in front of a Christmas tree abutted by fascist dust mites my father thought I was running away with my lesbian lover when in fact I was just trying to tell him I was carrying a Viking baby I had made with a man who was home trying to give birth to a little crater.