On the fourth day of Christmas, I woke up feeling like the holiday had never even happened, like I was still anticipating it. Except I did absolutely nothing productive for the first time in a month. And I liked it. The always-comical visit to Art the Indistinguishably Asian Massage Therapist (“What you been doeeeng? Yoah IT band tiiight.”) was the only thing that motivated me to even take a shower before 5pm. I ignored the nagging voice in my head that said, “Your home is still a God-forsaken mess. Do something about it” with a counter-argument that this was my do-nothing day, cleaning and laundry would ruin the physical therapy, and I would do it today instead. I won the argument.
In the evening, I headed out to meet up for dinner and drinks with my friend John. We had agreed on a funky little neighborhood in the city that we, I realized as I parked, tend to flock to pretty consistently this time of year. It’s full of a great combination of kitschy shops and antique stores, approachable restaurants with appealing menus and wacky decor, and houses with I mean ridiculous amounts of lights and decorations on their postage-stamp yards. In any other place, I find this amount of decoration tacky and trashy. Any other place but here.
I smiled as I walked the two blocks from my parking spot to the restaurant, passing toasty (from drink, not layers of clothing) people in Santa hats out for a holiday stroll. I love it when a community doesn’t end Christmas at midnight on the 25th. It gives us all a chance to enjoy the vibe when the craziness of the holiday is done. In my long red zip-up hooded fleece from my Crazy Aunt (the fourth zip-up fleece I’ve received in a row now), I looked like Little Red Riding Hood reflected in the storefront windows. The air was cold and clear. The people on the street were happy and pink-faced, walking in clouds of breath-fueled vapor. It felt like Christmas.
The restaurant was just the right kind of full, so John and I opted to sit at the bar rather than wait 15 minutes for a table (not that we thought 15 minutes was long). We met about eight years ago through Jack, but we hadn’t seen each other in months, so we toasted the season with our beverages and set about the catching up. John is one of the most naturally interesting people I know. It’s not that he’s got an amazing life or anything; it’s just that he’s so easy to talk to while being very, very smart. He’s 53, but the only giveaway is the ratio of salt to pepper in his hair. He’s handsome without being obvious, 6’3″ without being imposing. He’s got a great laugh. And he’s an idea guy. His brain works in really fun ways without being crazy. In a past life, he worked for an investment firm, but now he’s a renaissance man, and not the annoying kind who only says that’s what he is while wearing a pinky ring and a dickie. He’s developing several nonfiction TV series right now, two that are in some stage of greenlight or another. Which is sort of crazy considering he lives in our humble city in a tiny house (with a stupidly high property tax rate). He’s got brilliant, audience-ready concepts out the wazoo, but presently precious little income. “I’m thinking if my plans for prosperity in 2012 don’t work out, I might put myself up for adoption,” he deadpanned. Then he picked up my tab.
He’s the kind of friend that makes you feel cooler just by being your friend.
Alight on our stools, me with a quesadilla and he with a po’boy sandwich, we updated each other on our lives, our jobs (well, our work – he’s a renaissance man, he don’ work for nobody), our families and how we spent the holiday. He got the bartender to pour me another glass of wine when I felt certain I’d done something to make him hate and therefore ignore me. (I had turned down his suggestion of French dressing on my salad…might that have done it?) Other than the unaware bartender, the world faded away as two friends spent an evening in warm and comfortable conversation, and vowed (as we always do) to do it again soon.
On the fourth day of Christmas, I soaked up the joy of city living and easy friendship.