Liveblogging Toula’s Christmas party
7:08: If you thought December 21 was the longest night of the year, you’re wrong. It’s tonight. That’s because tonight is the night of my housemate Toula’s Christmas party, when she invites all her friends over to celebrate their escape from the Island of Misfit Toys. Usually, I hide in my room as long as possible but inevitably I’m forced to put in an appearance and then endure the next couple of excruciating hours until I can fake either a phone call or my death.
I’m really in no mood for Toula tonight ever since she called me into the living room at one o’clock last night to look at her newly erected Christmas tree. Then she told me I was “looking really healthy lately.” Was she calling me fat? “Not in a bad way!” she said. Then she asked me to bring a dessert to the potluck today (even though I think providing my presence is sacrifice enough). Oh, but it’s my girlfriend who does all the cooking for us, observed Toula. First, I’d like to say that’s not true; I’m an excellent sous-chef. And second, if it is true, then it’s my girlfriend’s fault I’m looking really healthy lately. Toula says so.
So, because I was triply or quadruply annoyed, I’d originally planned all my Christmas shopping for tonight just so I’d have an excuse to come home late and miss as much of the awful festivities, but, to my dismay, it went off without a hitch and I was done in record time. So, I’m stuck here. But as a way of coping (not to mention an excuse to sneak off frequently), I’ll liveblog the party. Keep in mind, however, that my goal is to miss the party completely, so if I’m lucky, this will be the one and only entry.
7:09: Okay, I just slipped out into the kitchen to get a bottle of Boylan’s birch beer I’d put in the freezer before it explodes. The party started sooner than I’d thought. “I’ll be right back,” I said sharply. What a liar I am.
7:11: I can hear that Cimarron the Scottish Yogi just arrived. I’m just guessing at the spelling of his name, but it doesn’t matter because it’s not his real name. It came with his turban when he converted to Sikhism. He’s a skinny little white guy with a big beard and does yoga and eats hummus or whatever. He doesn’t have an accent; he’s kind of Scottish the way I am, which is to say, not very.
7:16: I just got called out to look at some photos from the last party, in the summer. I heard Toula discussing them earlier, talking about how much skinnier she looked. Looking at them, I looked skinnier too. One of them is actually a really great picture of me, except that I’m wearing these basketball shorts and a stupid T-shirt with a mortarboard-wearing idiot on it that’s captioned “I fooled the whole school!” My girlfriend hates that shirt. I think my mom got it at a garage sale or something; I’m not sure where I got it. “You were skinnier then, but you look really healthy now,” says Toula. “Plus, you have a tan now.” I don’t see how this is possible. It’s winter.
7:22: One of the guys just left, and I’m pretty sure he’s not coming back. I hadn’t even mentioned he was here yet, but he’s this old guy who just always sits at the table and says nothing. But he does always bring cheese. I like that. But he didn’t bring cheese tonight, I don’t think. So, who needs him? On the plus side, Toula’s sister Gina just arrived. Ugh.
7:23: Also here, some older guy who brought Upper Canada Dark (which sounds pretty good, though I have a box of wine in here with me). My new Korean housemate July is here too, which should be a novelty for Gina. Maybe Gina will say something well-intentioned but horribly offensive, the way she used to do all the time with my old native housemate, Shanel. Shanel was from the Blood tribe in southern Alberta, and Gina would try to pick her brain on carving totem poles or making adobe bricks or whatever shit the Blood don’t do.
7:25: Oh good. Gina says she brought music. Lots of music from Greece. Gina has this terrible/amazing habit of picking the most obnoxious track on a CD and putting it on repeat for an hour until I finally snap. It’s like when the buzzer on the oven was broken so it would just go off continuously whenever you used it. Gina didn’t mind, although it drove me insane. This only stopped when my girlfriend’s dad, who worked for Ontario Hydro, and I pulled the oven away from the wall and he snipped the wire to the buzzer.
7:30: I’m chatting with Suzie right now. I just told her, “You’re my excuse, by the way. You’re having a crisis, and I’m helping you through it.” Her only real crisis is whether to have soup or Kraft Dinner for dinner, but we think it’s enough.
7:32: The music is Christmas salsa. Gina’s taking classes, she just said. And then she giggled after this. Gina’s got an annoying habit of giggling after everything, funny or not. At the last party in the summer, she came into the kitchen and said, “It smells like a burger joint in here! Hee hee hee!” And then five minutes later: “It smells like a burger joint in here! Hee hee hee!” She repeats things too.
7:38: I just had July’s homemade Korean sushi, which I didn’t know existed, but there you go. She pointed the different ones out — one’s beef, one’s cheese (of all things), and one’s tuna. “Tuna, or Toula?” I asked. She thought that was funny (“Tuna” is how July usually pronounces “Toula”). It’s not bad. I gave her the OK sign while chewing. Then I wondered if that gesture is rude in Korea. (Apparently, it is, I’ve learned.)
7:40: You won’t be surprised to learn, by the way, that the first Christmas salsa song was “Feliz Navidad”. I haven’t recognized one since, though.
7:41: Toula’s chronically late friend Helen just arrived. She was evidently supposed to be here at 6:00, so this is good for her. The Upper Canada Dark guy is this old guy with an amazing combover. It actually looks like a yarmulke from the side.
7:46: It turns out that Cimmaron really is Scottish. In fact, his mom is sick, and he’s flying back there tomorrow. He can turn the accent on and off. “Want to hear my Sean Connery impression?” he asked. “Miss Moneypenny. Books. Spiritual books.” Then he added, seeing my dumbfounded look, “That’s In the Name of the Rose. Get it?” Despite the authentic brogue, it was possibly the worst Sean Connery impression I’ve ever heard. It’s not enough to just do the accent — you have to do the voice too.
7:50: Nick is now here. I think I’ve mentioned him. Nick used to be Paul. He changed his name a few years ago, and then got upset when people wouldn’t call him by the new one. “Why is everyone calling me by a name that isn’t my name?” he’d complain. Nick looks just like a live-action version of Jay Sherman from The Critic. Except now he’s doing this really-bad comb-forward. It doesn’t hide a thing. Nick’s the one who once threw a fit when he couldn’t get the barbecue started, and shouted into the house in frustration, “For God’s sake! Doesn’t anyone have any white wine in there?!”
7:54: I just sat and held a conversation with Cimmaron about his busy holiday schedule while barely restraining myself from bursting out laughing at the sheer amount of food caught in his mustache. If he doesn’t have time to eat tomorrow, he can just suck on his upper lip.
7:58: Suzie theorizes that Cimmarron is so skinny not because he’s a yogi, but because none of the food makes it past his facial hair.
8:00: The Upper Canada Dark guy just gave me one, which instantly makes him my favorite person there except maybe July, who, it turns out, loves Upper Canada Dark and flushing bright red after a few sips. I’ve left my beer in the kitchen so I have a reason to go back and forth. The hair yarmulke is just a ridiculous thing, though. It’s not really a yarmulke from anywhere but a side view; otherwise, it’s just one blatant strip. Still, it’s arguably actually working.
8:06: Nick brought his femme fatale, this woman he’s just in love with, although you’d otherwise assume he’s gay, and who just walks all over him. She’s little and plump and none too attractive, and she’s wearing gold lamé pants. “Oh, hello,” she said to me. “You’re the houseboy!” (That’s housemate. Houseboys went out with the Green Hornet. Although, with the Seth Rogen movie coming out soon, maybe they’re due for a comeback.)
8:10: Ho-ly shit. Gold Lamé Pants just propositioned me, I think. I walked into the kitchen, and she pointed over at me and said to Toula, “How about your friend. Got a girlfriend? I’m looking!” Toula said that I did have one, and Gold Lamé Pants said, “Have another.” Gina pointed out that Gold Lamé Pants was a princess — she’d even brought her own princess shoes. I looked down. Gold shoes. “Nah, I’m good,” I said, after a pause, then abruptly turned and left the room. That actually got a pretty big laugh.
8:15: Suzie is on Channel 10 right now, on Dating 101. Turn it on, if you’ve got Rogers cable.
8:17: Someone just broke out the Kahlua, which July got excited about. Then I heard Gina telling her, “It’s a really nice brown colour, like you’ve been down south.” Was she talking about the Kahlua, dare I ask? Nope — July’s skin colour.
8:18: Outside: “How many people here have met Billy Idol?” “I did too!” Huh? Are these people somehow more rock and roll than me?
8:23: I just checked. Two people here have indeed met Billy Idol separately. “We didn’t have a threesome!” joked Gold Lamé Pants. (Thank God.) “I also met Burton Cummings and K.D. Lang,” she said. Did they have a threesome, I asked? “I wish!” she laughed.
8:25: Cimmaron once met William H. Macy, shook his hand, and told him he liked his work. “William H. Macy said he liked your work?” I asked, deliberately misunderstanding. July thought this was hilarious. But really, William H. Macy might have taken a yoga class or two.
8:28: Music: Paul McCartney — “Another Day”. It could actually be much worse.
8:31: I just did the worst sub-Abbott and Costello routine concert with Gold Lamé Pants. “I saw the Who in concert three times!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” Who? “The Who!” And so on.
8:34: I just want you all to know that I could have any woman here. (That’s not bragging.)
8:36: Okay, so the music is actually Wings’ greatest hits (or, as Toula calls them, The Wings). “My favorite band since the Beatles!” I announced. This might actually be true. Is there another band I like more that was formed between when the Beatles broke up in 1970 and when Wings formed in 1971? If Big Star slipped in there, then it’s them. Otherwise, I might have to actually go with Wings. So, I wasn’t even being sarcastic, although my assertion that Linda McCartney was “the best one” might be suspect.
8:43: It turns out that Nick the schlub is working on an album. It’s mostly spoken word, with musical accompaniment. There’s one song, but the rest is mostly prose pieces, with one poem and a dramatic piece. It sounds like William Shatner’s The Transformed Man crossed with Kirk Van Houten’s Can I Borrow a Feeling?
8:49: Keep in mind when reading the above that this man looks like Jay Sherman. And I just learned he works in a call centre. He is the Saddest Thing.
8:50: Cimmaron just asked, “Anybody remember the cover of that album, Band on the Run? It looked just like a big searchlight.” And then he just laughed quietly at that.
8:54: Toula just asked me, “Tom Hanks isn’t gay, right?” I said no, just in that one movie. Then Gold Lamé Pants said, “Well, he’s sure corrupted that Katie Holmes.” I said that was Tom Cruise. And she said, “He likes to cruise, does he?”
8:58: Nick says he heard that there’s some campy gay nativity play going on now that’s got the church up in arms. I say that if Joseph and Mary were a gay couple, that would definitely make the birth a miraculous one. Was Jesus the original gay adoption? Stay tuned to find out!
8:59: New music now. I just asked Gina what it was. “It’s my Greek music that I got from Greece!” Gold Lamé Pants showed me a couple of CDs that she brought: “David Bowie (“bow” pronounced to rhyme with “wow”) and Queen!”
9:01: Gina is singing along. Oh, God.
9:03: Gold Lamé Pants just squeezed by me as I was looking on in horror as one of the guests put ice cubes that have got to be several years old into his drink. “I’ll pinch your bum!” she threatened. Can ice go bad? We never use our ice trays. They’re all warped and dangerous.
9:07: Just as I finished the last sip of my Upper Canada Dark, Upper Canada Dark Guy offered me another. I like that guy. Meanwhile, we’re looking at photos of Gold Lamé Pants’s cat.
9:11: Suzie nominates Warped and Dangerous as an awesome band name. I actually get a few Google hits from people looking for “great unused band names”, so have at it, people, but you’d better get in before we form one ourselves. I’m going to talk to Nick about getting him to join.
9:14: There is dancing.
9:16: My girlfriend just called. I actually just asked her to call back later and got off the phone so I could continue this. What the hell is wrong with me?
9:24: We’re up to dessert now. I brought that, and people are insultingly reluctant to eat it. I suppose it doesn’t help that, when asked what it was, I described it as an “I forget.” ( I tore the label off to hide the price, which was only $3.99.) They might suspect I’m trying to poison them. I wish I’d thought of that.
9:25: How, theoretically, could I get everyone here except July to eat poison? (July is nice.) Is there something that only Koreans don’t eat?
9:31: Cimarron mentioned how much he’d like to hear the mellow songs of the Eagles right now. “Egos?” asked Toula. No, Eagles. “Egos?” He ended up singing a few bars of “Peaceful, Easy Feeling”. Suzie and I are going to get him to join Warped and Dangerous.
9:38: July (who really likes Greek music, it turns out) just spent quite a while trying to ask me something. But because her English isn’t good and her accent is strong, I couldn’t make it out. I thought she was asking if I was a hippie. It turned out she was asking if I spoke Hebrew. Then, when I said I didn’t, she asked if I spoke Latin. She figured that being some kind of writer meant I might be educated. She gives me too much credit.
9:40: We had to make new ice cubes, by the way, since the old ones tasted so foul.
9:48: Nick asserted that there used to be a Berlin, Ontario, but they had to change their name to London because of the war. Cimarron said, no, that was Kitchener. I agreed; London was already on the right side, so they were cool. Hitlerville, Ontario, though — they were right out.
9:50: Suzie suspects that my sense of humour is going somewhat unappreciated at this soirée. But July thinks I’m a riot. However, she is also currently fascinated by a lemon. She’s just turning it over and over in her hands. She might be drunk now.
9:52: July just tried to eat the plastic flower that came on top of the I Forget. Yes, she’s drunk.
9:58: The I Forget was a Christmas cake, but it was more of a bread. She thought the decorative flower on top might be made of sugar, so it’s not as bad as I made it seem. Gina is talking to July about Asian food now. I’m waiting for her to ask if she eats dog.
10:08: July wanted to ask me if she should buy a Playstation 3 or an Xbox. (I don’t know.) She’s really into video games. This is why she’s in Canada, in fact: to study how to make them and get a job in the industry. However, she confesses, she is hopelessly terrible at Tetris. She’s just garbage. It’s so confusing. She can’t handle it at all.
10:12: Cimarron has disappeared.
10:13: Cimarron is, it turns out, in the bathroom. “When?” asks Gina. “How long? I hope he doesn’t have diarrhea!” Then she cackles.
10:17: July was just licking at the plastic flower again. I should add that this is a plastic poinsettia, and poinsettias are, as you know, poisonous. So a plastic one is doubly dangerous to eat.
10:19: Now, it turns out that Cimarron was really in the living room all along. So now we really hope he doesn’t have diarrhea.
10:21: By the way, I asked my girlfriend to phone back at 11:00, assuming she can stay awake that long. (She’s the early to bed, early to suffer type.) So, I may cut this short there. Or, if the party’s still going after that, I might pick it back up.
10:24: July is now trying Kahlua for the first time ever. How now, brown cow? She loves it, glad you asked. Also, the music is now Diana Ross and the Supremes, which is new to her too, and she loves that too. “Second-biggest female group in history,” Upper Canada Dark Guy pipes up. Who’s the biggest? “ABBA,” he says. But that’s not an all-female group, I point out — they were two men and two women. “Madonna,” suggests Gold Lamé Pants. Not a group, I say. I looked it up, and the biggest girl group in history is actually the Spice Girls. “How many were in the Spice Girls, then?” asks Toula. “Six? Or eight?” I like that Toula interprets “biggest” to mean “largest number of members” rather than “most successful”.
10:37: A very popular brand of rosé wine has come out. July is unimpressed by the standard factoid I trot out in this situation, which is that I used to date the daughter of one of the winery’s owners, whose name appears on the label. July is too distracted because she is trying to work out whether rosé wine is actually made from roses, as the name seems to imply.
10:43: Cimarron is actually leaving now. He’s taking some food home with him — in his beard. It’s good that he’s got a snack for the plane. I wonder if he gets flagged as a terrorist in airports actually, what with the turban and beard. Suzie suggests that must be confusing for the authorities, what with his killer Sean Connery impression and all. Maybe they just figure he’s some kind of undercover agent for MI6.
10:46: “Let’s take a photo!” suggests Toula. Let’s not, I think, leaving the room. “Say cheese,” suggests Cimarron, taking the picture. “Intercourse!” shouts Gold Lamé Pants. I offer to take one of everyone together, and as they crowd around, someone tips over my empty beer bottle, which smashes on the kitchen floor. I snap a great shot of everyone staring at the broken glass.
10:57: It being really slushy outside, I try to convince July that the song goes “I’m dreaming of a slush Christmas” and not “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” She sings her version, but I disprove her theory by singing mine. She considers this, and seems almost convinced. Then, she shakes her head and says, “It’s kidding.” I’m kidding, I ask? “Yeah. It’s kidding.” Her eyes are nearly closed now, by the way.
11:01: The opening of gifts has commenced. So has the usual fight between Toula and her sister, Gina. This was actually just an opening salvo of a couple of cross words; the bickering won’t start in earnest until later, probably when they clean up. Still, I’m surprised it’s taken this long.
11:05: Okay, Cimarron is gone, as is the late Helen, and things seem to be winding down a little bit. And, my girlfriend just phoned and is being ignored as I type. From now on, it’s just going to be people leaving, the remaining people gossiping about the ones who just left, Gold Lamé Pants revealing way too much personal information about her sex life, and then Gina picking on Toula as they clean up. So, I’m calling it here.
Filed under: Brain-Damaged Toula | 18 Comments