Monday, December 17, 2007

Yuletide tales of days gone by


Christmas 1981 we were young and wild and crazy in love. We lived on the third floor of the Olivia Apartments on 4th and Moffet - classic old building with a tile lobby that made me feel like we were cosmopolitan. The meekest kid from my grade school lived down on the first floor. By now he had a long beard and a long coat and a drug habit. On the floor above us was a girl who had a bad reputation from high school. I don't know if she deserved it or not. I felt like I was becoming an adult, working a job and paying rent - a rent than ran $110 a month, because this was one of the nicer apartments in town. No problem, because I believe I was grossing more than $10k per annum - major moolah, in my mind, not too shabby. But that big money flowed through me like shit through a goose, always living with champagne taste on a beer budget, as Daddy would have said. No problem, because when we ran out of cash we'd just have popcorn for dinner a couple of nights. You don't need much when you're young and in love.

We bought as much Christmas tree as we could afford, but it looked squat under those high ceilings. I remember buying an ornament or two from an overpriced gift shop on Main Street (next door to the Closet, the Attic and the Dud's Shop, for those who know their Joplin geography) and we decorated our chunky tree. We added some strings of popcorn, since there was always some left over. All in all, we did a good job of making a sincere little Christmas in our sophisticated downtown world, playing at being adults. The highlight was opening gifts on Christmas morning, when the future Mrs. Blogger saw the delicate watch I had found for her delicate little wrist (from Newton's, 5th and Main) and she uttered the immortal line, "Oh, honey, a Bulova!" I knew I had scored. I think it cost $50 in 1981 - the equivalent today of $1,743,587.00 or something close to that.

I procrastinated on getting rid of the Christmas tree so long it became a running joke. Around the end of February it was so dry I snapped off the branches and just rolled them between my palms until they turned to dust. We left the trunk of the tree in the tree holder and used it to hang our car keys on. I think it stayed with us until we moved out in the summer of 1982.

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