Everything I Like Causes Cancer

Where we've been convinced to write a new post on Dec. 2. Stay tuned!


Didja' miss me?

Posted by Gwen |

I had so, so, so much fun in Chicago. Like many of you, however, I thought I'd be in areas more urban than they actually turned out to be. That said, my expectations were based in pure speculation as I had never been as far north and west as I was. I wasn't expecting downtown or anything, I knew I was going to be in the suburbs, but everything was much more rural than I was expecting . . . and it was perfect. I needed to get away from it all and could not have asked for more perfect settings.

I went up to visit friends from college, people I have known for 15-20 years. I didn't attend college at the same time they did, as I am much younger, but I was introduced to them during various Homecoming weekends while I was still in school. For a long time Homecoming was the only time we got together. Many of them have come down here for one Mardi Gras or another, but it wasn't until last Homecoming that we decided to make the effort to plan other group events.

Laughlin picked me up at the airport on Friday at about 11:30 and we headed for his house. Laughlin is the guy you know who is a great storyteller but yet also knows every joke under the sun. His wife is a relatively new friend of mine, a woman I adore and admire. She and I have different shells but we're the same snail inside. Their kids, a boy, 15, and a girl, 11, are both bright and funny, polite and engaging. I really enjoyed both of them and am happy to finally know them.

The Biloz' joined us Friday night for the dinner that Laughlin and I spent all afternoon buying and preparing. I never knew that he liked or was interested in food and cooking but it became evident shortly after we started discussing the menu. He and I and his daughter, who I'm going to call Hannah after her favorite pop star, duh, went to the store while his wife took a shower. We were passed in the entrance to the store by a woman who said hi only to Hannah. I was surprised by his amused response until he explained that the woman who said hi is the town busybody, a regular Mrs. Kravitz, if you will, and he was certain that rumors of his apparent infidelity would soon be flying around the community. We immediately decided to mess with her and stayed very cosy throughout the store. Hannah would put her arms around me and ask me questions about produce every time we saw Kravitz.

When we got back out to the car I realized I forgot to get the lemonade so I went back into the store. Laughlin told me later that Kravitz was loading her groceries into her car when I walked away and that Hannah hollered, "Hey! Where's mom going? I hope she comes back soon because I'm hungry!" The kid is awesome. I'm still waiting to hear if the rumor mill has picked up the story yet.

He and I worked in perfect tandem all afternoon whipping up dinner. I made a caribbean-style ceviche and played sous chef to his superior talents. Everyone spent happy hour watching us work together and commenting making fun of us. He got mad at me for suggesting that we were like Rachel Ray and Mario Battale because he wanted to be Bobby Flay. Nerd. Everyone knows you want to be Paula Deen when you're playing kitchen. She gets to eat butter.

After dinner, we laughed over two boxes of old pictures and eventually wandered over to his neighbors' house. Laughlin had been excited all day about going to the bonfire at his neighbors'. He kept telling me that we were going to burn a Christmas tree and he was downright giddy about it, which I thought was odd. I just thought it meant that his neighbor was environmentally conscious and re-purposes Christmas trees as firewood. Ok. Cool. That's a nice thing. But nothing to get into a lather over, right?

I clearly had no idea what it meant at all. Have you ever seen this amazing phenomenon? Did you know about this? Because I did not. I had never heard of it and yet everyone I've asked about it since I got home has very casually said, "Oh yeah, that? We've always done that."

Well, I am here to tell you blase folks, you have never seen it done like Laughlin's neighbor does it, an inventive man who bears a striking resemblance to Todd O'Connor. In fact, let's call him Todd for the sake of ease. You see, look closely at that picture up there. Note how Todd made a frame for his trees. Note how his trees stand upright over the fire. They don't lay on their sides like a wounded camel, they stand and burn proud. Like this:

WARNING: The first 40 or seconds of this video is dark - they are placing the tree in the stand and then over the fire pit. You will also be tortured by the sound of my drunk voice making stupid comments during this time. Do not give up. It's worth the moment or two of agony when you see the tree get swallowed by flames.

Also, do not mock me. I was nice enough to warn you.

To be continued . . .


Dr Zibbs said...

That tree burning was great! And safe too. I'm glad he moved the bookshelf 5 feet away from that inferno because if it were 4 feet away, it could have been dangerous. Also he missed an opportunity because how cool would it have been if he printed a life sized face of someone screaming, like Santa then taped it to the tree? You'd have yourself a Youtube hit.
Also, love the Gwen accent.

Falwless said...

Hahahaha, I can't hear it here at work but I can imagine. Are you saying things like:



"Sayy dos you thiinks I couldd lihjght my cigarretttethere on za pretrtty fiiire?"

Be honest.

Tricia said...

I love the burning bush - waiting for Moses to show up! :)

hello haha narf said...

can't wait to watch the video at home where i can listen to your drunk self.

giggling already!

Gwen said...

Falwless: If this is what you're imagining, I can't wait to get your feedback after you actually hear me. My status as a dork is introduced in this video but tomorrow's will cement it for you.

Gwen said...

Dr. Zibbs: I am emailing Laughlin right now to make these recommendations. The screaming face is genius.

Renaissance Woman said...

Love the burning tree! And no...I have never heard of such a thing. But it does sound like a blast. I would like to be Paula Dean only because I love the butter!

Whiskeymarie said...

The fact that, most of the time when people are burning various things like this they are shitfaced makes me wonder why we're not all walking around disfigured from various drunken fire mishaps.
Your voice is deeper than I expected- very sexy.
Must be the smoking.

pistols at dawn said...

I am all for lighting anything on fire, so I like this plan.

McGone said...

You were a lot farther north of Chicago than I thought you would be, but I do remember seeing that tower of fire shoot up into the northern sky that night. I thought The Day of Reckoning was finally at hand, but it was just drunken shenanigans! Thank God.

Keeper Of All Things said...

I love the fact that there is christmas lights up at your christmas tree burning!!

MelO said...

I can't believe you didn't invite me over for Caribbean-Style Ceviche! OMG. Yum!

othurme said...

You midnationers have funny hobbies!

hello haha narf said...

ok, you don't sound ANYthing like i thought you would. where is an accent? dammit!

Johnny B said...

I told you not to light your farts after drinking heavily. That was indeed an awesome display, and you've confirmed that your ass is still hot. Loved seeing you and partying the whole weekend. Can't wait for nex month in St. Louis!

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

That was pretty awesome. We always put our tree curbside for the garbage collection and then spend the rest of the week retrieving it from various spots around the yard when the wind blows it all around like a friggen tumbleweed. I really would like to see that f*cker burn - next year. We'll see.

Stacie said...

sounds, so far, like a fantastic trip!