Songwriter Randy Brooks (The Bad Monkeys) established himself decades ago as an astute and searing Christmas chronologist with his classic hit “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”
Being the voice of his generation when it comes to all things Christmas is a heavy burden.
Now Brooks comes with this year’s take on Christmas, life in North Texas, his recent retirement from American Airlines, his wife, Marti, their daughters, Libby and Kristi, and, of course, the Biebs.
Given the increasing frequency of mine shaft cave-ins, we decided to take a proactive stance and send our high-definition holiday newsletter out now, rather than take a chance that you or we should be buried deep underground when the mistletoe is hung.
Every year, the preparations begin a little earlier. And every year, the lines between the sacred and the secular become more blurred. And who’s to blame for that? Gene Autry, that’s who! Have you ever paid attention to the lyrics of “Here Comes Santa Claus?”
“Let’s give thanks to the Lord above, ‘cause Santa Claus comes tonight.”
The folks in the neighborhood just to our south are at it again, vying to see who can come up with the least appropriate holiday yard display. Our favorite is the nativity scene in lights, featuring an elephant and a seal. Either these homeowners were taught the stories of Noah’s ark and Jesus’s birth in the same Sunday school lesson, or Home Depot was fresh out of oxen and sheep.
Speaking of nativity scenes, let’s hope that this Christmas season is calmer than last – when Extreme Atheists from Wisconsin descended on peaceful little Athens, Texas, demanding that either the nativity scene be removed from the courthouse square, or that atheists be given equal time. In the spirit of compromise, the county placed on the opposite side of the square an oil drum on which was stenciled “Madalyn Murray O’Hair.”
Here in east Dallas, the parental Brookses have reached the age where we’re starting to be visited by the Reverse Tooth Fairy. We wake up in the morning to find that our money’s gone and there are teeth on our pillow.
Who knew that 2012 would be the year when sexual preference and fast food would collide? Because we had trouble keeping up with the news and the Olympics at the same time, we mistakenly staged a kiss-in in front of an Irish pub, in protest of Gaelic marriage.
2012 was also the year that Marti finally convinced Randy, who was in the throes of a particularly tenacious sinus infection, to try the neti pot. Now, we know what you’re thinking: “Wow, man – I used to smoke that stuff in the 70s…and I never had a sinus problem…although I occasionally had a legal problem!” No, it’s not like that. You take this plastic bottle filled with distilled water, and force it up your nostril (the water, not the bottle.) For a split second, you get a flashback – not to the 70s, but to your childhood swimming lessons, when you got water up your nose and thought you were about to drown. But then, miraculously, the water rounds the horn and begins to flow soothingly out of the opposite nostril like the Seven Pools of Hana, carrying with it hockers, loogies, stalactites, and your wedding ring that you haven’t been able to find in ten years.
“Peace on Earth will come to all if we just follow the light, so jump in bed and cover up your head, ‘cause Santa Claus comes tonight.”
Marti’s days as an independent tutor were inevitably numbered. As soon as news of her free agency reached the private school community, administrators started flocking to our door like Parrotheads to a rum bottle. Given her rock star status in the pediatric Spanish-teaching world, her agent was able to negotiate a particularly sweet contract, including her own private teacher’s lounge, complete with daily lobster tray, refrigerator stocked with Negra Modelo (for medicinal purposes,) and M&Ms only in Restoration Hardware colors.
Marti, a Catholic who attends a Methodist church, teaches at an Episcopal school, and dabbles in the Christian humility cult “I Am Fourth,” was lucky to land this new position at all, after giving responses such as this on her application:
Q: In your own handwriting, please describe your philosophy of teaching.
A: Who else’s handwriting would I use?
Over the last 30 years, Randy managed to survive many a “reduction in force” at the airline. We always suspected that this was because he’d been there so long that managers had no idea exactly what he did, and therefore weren’t sure what the consequences might be of him not doing it anymore. But with bankruptcy came a much more meticulous evaluation of every cog in the wheel, and once Randy’s actual contributions were quantified, he was given 30 minutes to pack up his monkeys and retire.
This immediately gave the retiree the opportunity to get into more trouble with his music. He has been flying around the country, scrounging up any flimsy excuse to foist his songs on unsuspecting bystanders. Meanwhile, his pool-party band, the Testostertones (formerly Adagio’s Barber, and prior to that the Houston AssTrolls) contributed Randy’s “Goin’ on a Date with Santa” to a promotional compilation Christmas CD sent to stations programming Texas music. But realizing that they would get little airplay because these stations generally define Texas music as I-got-drunk-at-the rodeo songs, Randy quickly started work on “I Got Drunk at the Rodeo for Christmas” for next year’s CD.
Libby is supplementing the meager wages from her hunchbacked laboratory assistant job by waiting tables at a nearby beer-and-wings joint catering to the veterinary trade. Photos of dogs and cats in tank tops and short shorts adorn the walls. It’s called “Nooters.”
Libby is also now a second-degree pole dancing instructor in Nashville, and as if all that weren’t enough, works on the lighting crew for shows such as Van Halen, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart, and Aretha Franklin. Pretty much all a parent could hope for.
Meanwhile, Kristi is in her senior year at Vander-billed. Upon graduation, in the spirit of sisterly competition, she hopes to become a third-degree pole dancing instructor.
After we had put all the necessary arrangements in place for Kristi to go to Chile for her spring semester (and read through the 281-page parents’ guide to study abroad,) we were exasperated to learn that all she had actually said was that she was going to Chili’s. Damn cell phone connection!
Neither of the Brooks girls admits to a serious relationship at present, but Libby has already announced her intention to marry in a cave, with all her attendants in roaring 20s attire. Kristi heartily supports this plan, as she says it assures that her wedding and Libby’s will be nothing alike.
Health? We’ve been boringly healthy, but since it seems to be more or less mandatory in Christmas newsletters to relay that Great Aunt Edna has been suffering from festering open sores…we must report that Great Aunt Edna has been suffering from festering open sores. Not only that, but some of Marti’s students have festering open sores, as do several of Randy’s fellow musicians.
But for us personally, there was only that one minor incident in June when Marti was bitten by an iguana in Key West and developed East Nile virus.
No doubt our good health is at least in part attributable to our being so diligent about preventative care. For instance, remember those carefree days of youth spent basting and baking by the pool like a goose in the oven on Christmas day? Well we do, thanks to constant reminders from our dermatologist. We have reached the age where he wants to see us twice a year to stay ahead of the evil skin gnomes that sneak up without warning to make us ugly and threaten our well-being. If you yourself are just reaching this stage of life, schedule carefully your visits with Dr. Skinscrape. Once he has you behind his locked door, he won’t ask, “Is this a good time for me to temporarily disfigure you?” He’ll just lunge at you with a paring knife and a can of liquid nitrogen – like a fiend in a slasher flick, and then hand you a bill. You don’t want this to schedule one of these visits right before your high school reunion or your third marriage.
“Santa Claus knows we’re all God’s children; that makes everything right. So hang your stockings and say your prayers ‘cause Santa Claus comes tonight.”
We’ve all settled into the holiday mood…except for Marti, who, although snuggled in front of our faux-fireplace, is eschewing traditional holiday television fare in favor of one of her preferred incredibly-horrible-things-happening-to-people-just-like-you programs.
You probably need to quit reading now, so that you can get busy making all the traditional preparations for having family over for holiday dinner – like cleaning the shower, in case any of the guests feel a sudden urge to jump up from the table for an emergency body scrub…and emptying trash cans at the last possible moment before people arrive, in order to create the impression that, while you maintain waste baskets for the convenience of guests, yours is otherwise a waste-free household.
We would ordinarily ramble on a while longer, but night is falling, and it’s just about time for one of our cherished holiday traditions. Marti drives Randy around wealthy neighborhoods, and wherever we see a big party in progress, Randy goes to the door using a platinum album as his calling card, and asks if they’d like him to come in and sing a few Christmas songs in exchange for free alcohol. Designated driver Marti is happy as a clam to remain in the car, looking at the endless supply of adorable naked baby pictures on Pinterest.
May your holiday be accompanied less by the sounds of Justin Bieber, sounding like he’s being goosed at five-second intervals, and more by the music of Michael Buble, who sounds like he really will be home for Christmas, and hopes you will be, too.
We all miss you terribly and can’t wait for our next get-together. And to all our Hare Krishna neighbors a few blocks over – Hare Krismus!
Love from Bob, Thelma, Jorge Jr., poor little Petie, weird Aunt Ivan, Tommy the turtle, Elsie the cow, the geckos on the window, Randy, Marti, Libby, Kristi, and Winston (Sir Barksalot) the Malti-poo.
P.S.: Kristi would like to go on record as saying this needed to contain a lot more about her. There – that’s something else about her.
Dedicated with love to the memory of Olivia Cisneros Marks