Saturday, December 07, 2002


OK, I’m back to believing that it is indeed, Christmas time and not February as I have been suspecting lo these several days.

How do I know?

It isn’t the holly and mistletoe…

It isn’t the Christmas carols filling the air (since that’s been happening since September, when the Four Tenors came together in joyous reunion to torment my poor former band teacher for another season)…

It isn’t even the Christmas parade my volunteers and I put together last night (that featured nearly half as many floats as the City of Denver had in its parade)…

It’s because of the pranks, of course. This is, after all, Saratoga.

As long-time LIANT readers know, we in Saratoga don’t confine ourselves to the traditional prank-intensive holidays of Halloween and April Fool’s Day to show our neighbors how much we care. Two days out of 365? In a town where winter lasts six months and there’s not a cinema, bowling alley or repertory theater to be had at all (unless one counts my coffee group, better than TV and [moderately] cheaper) (though that does get tested a bit when my own dear personal dad goes on a child abuse crusade and manages to stick me for coffee two days in a row) (that’s OK, I get the last word because I’m a starving writer and he’s not. Bring it on, Pa!)? Ho, ho, no!

My first hint came about a week ago, when out on my lawn there arose such a clatter, I knew it was more than just deer getting fatter. I knew it could only be some reprobate friend of mine showing his love in a way that only he could.

With his snowplow.

Now, Kate’s landing has a long, long driveway leading up to the tiny little Unabomber cabin that is my dwelling, and I’d long been wondering how bad it was going to get this winter if we got the kind of snow that we all want so we can get in some whitewater action before the tourists come back this spring. Not worrying, just wondering.

So… waking up to find my driveway neatly plowed the next morning was momentarily gratifying, almost, I’d even say, as gratifying as finding that at some point before the snow flew a magical plumbing elf had put a stop to the leak in my kitchen faucet (just in time for the water department to issue its warning to leave a faucet running in our houses to prevent our pipes from freezing!). I didn’t know there were snowplow elves, too!

Then… as I scraped the night’s accumulation of frost from the windows of Klexton (my “rose quartz” colored 1989 Taurus) and watched the Collie of Folly frisk trying to chase the scraper from within the warmth and safety thereof, I noticed that the snow and topsoil that the snowplow elf had scraped up when thoughtfully clearing my driveway was unmistakably piled up right behind Klexton’s rear tires.

It was only later in the day when the Minister of Fun and I compared notes did I realize this was not the work of my darling streets department crew, and that my driveway was not the elves’ only handiwork; the elves (I use the plural with hesitation; there was a driver and at least one passenger, but the only passenger who has owned up to being in any way involved insists she was “in an alcoholic blackout” and I’m inclined to believe her) had also thoughtfully moved and re-sculpted the Minister of Fun’s big metal trash can.

Furthermore, the elves were directly observed by my amazingly cool next door neighbors, or, more accurately, by their brand new basset hound/rottweiler cross, Lester, who helpfully notified them in the night that a big Suburban painted in a strange camouflage pattern was amuck in the neighborhood.

The elf who was behind the wheel will shortly find out what it’s like to tangle with me. My revenge will be sweet but probably too obscure for him even to notice as revenge, but I will find it satisfying and his patrons at the Lazy River Cantina will find it edifying, I assure you.

Because it wasn’t just the MOF and I who got visits by the Cantina Elf. Oh no. Tad the Grocer was relieved of a big wooden reindeer/moose thing from his yard, to find it the next day deposited in the pickup truck of the Artist Formerly Known as Obie (not his real name) But Now and Henceforth to be Known to All Friends and Fans of LIANT and Saratoga Life in General as Sketch (not his real name) (Sketch, for short).

I shall, therefore, have at least two accomplices… or would, were I perhaps a bit less faint of heart than I am. I confess it, I am a bit of a coward when it comes to Prank Wars, but… but… but…

I don’t want to wind up with livestock in my yard, guys!!!!

See, Sketch and Tad and Jet Fuel and my own dear personal Chamber Prez (who did not, I think, really know what he was getting himself into) (or so he claims, but I saw him giggling along with the rest of them as the fellas launched themselves into the night) just had to go earlier this week and T.P. the Chicken Lady’s House.

(Those of you who are relatively new to LIANT are encouraged to hit the archives and check out my very first post of 2002 on THE PASSING OF THE POULTRY; the Chicken Lady, and her husband, are not to be messed with in this capacity, possessed as they are of considerable financial resources, tenacity, imagination, and access to various foul fowl including turkeys, roosters, Muscovy Ducks and blow-up dolls… and know how to use them).

Allying myself with Tad and Sketch at this point, in other words, would be folly of a caliber of which not even my dog is capable.

I’m not even sure I should go to Tad’s Christmas party next week, except my Enabling Assistant is catering the thing and her feelings are easily hurt when I don’t eat her food.

So just let me say publicly here, in this, my forum, my soapbox, my pulpit, that I am a victim here, too, O Mr. And Mrs. Chicken Lady. I’m on your side! And I’m allergic to ducks!

And no, this is not a propeller beanie on my head.

Ahh, Christmas…

Tuesday, December 03, 2002


After spending an entire month "writing crap fast" in fellow novelist Jason Erickson's immortal words, I am still, on December 3, punch drunk as hell. Every 20 minutes or so I feel the sudden urge to jump up and look behind all the furniture to try to find where David Lynch is hiding, directing my life in secret. My coffee buddies are starting to talk like characters in my novel. Or was it my characters who started to talk like my coffee buddies? Wait, I based my characters on my coffee buddies (sort of) and (sort of) on some jerks I used to hang out with in my Boston days and (sort of) on the voices in my head.

I'm a month ahead of myself, already writing "2003" on my checks and blinking hard when people wish me a Merry Christmas. Christmas? Wasn't that months ago? I'm thinking about the ice fishing derby in January, except it, too, is starting to feel really over, like the dates have come and gone and I'm just tying up the last details, which means I'm really thinking about the chariot races. Every day I have to fight down the impulse to start calling people and asking them to volunteer some time in the beer tent, but oh wait, if I'm going to call them shouldn't I be getting Fishing Derby judges? No, wait, what I'm looking for is entries for the Christmas parade this coming Friday. Christmas? Wasn't that months ago?


So, um, anyway, blogging is too surreal an activity for me right now. Maybe I'll write something tomorrow. I dunno. I'm still faintly nauseated by the sight of my words on a computer screen. I'm told it will pass.

The important thing is that, for the first time possibly since high school, I finished something that I started that has nothing to do with my jobs, my volunteer responsibilities, or personal promises to anyone else.

I am, in fact, a novelist.


Merry... Happy... um... whatever, everyone!