A Holiday To Forget

December, 2001:

We arrived at the airport early - very early - en route to spend the holidays with her parents. We lived in Dallas TX, and they in Fresno CA.

Her parents liked me because I was 'good for her'. If there's ever a phrase I hate, it's that one. People would talk at length about how good I was for her without ever addressing what about her was good for me. The answer would have been 'very little', which is probably why no one ever brought it up.

"She's such a fighter and needs to be with someone easygoing like you!" they'd say. "She gets so negative and needs to be with someone optimistic like you!" "And you know she can be snobby, but you're so down to earth." Wow. With friends like those...

As they'd tell me the many reasons she should be with someone like me, I'd wonder why the fuck I was with someone like her. I'm not saying she was a bad person. She wasn't. But she wasn't a good match for me.

I would have been painfully aware of our differences had the rest of my world not been in chaos as well. I'd lost my job at HOT 100 that year. I'll never forget waking up the morning after celebrating my birthday to find the radio station that had been my reason for moving to Dallas off the air. It returned days later with a new name and a new format as they built a new staff. My noncompete contract prevented me from working elsewhere in Dallas, so I lived off my savings for a while contemplating jobs in other cities. Then came September 11th. The potential jobs I was contemplating vanished overnight. My career came to a halt, my savings were running out, and I was absolutely miserable living in Texas. The Christmas/New Years holiday was to be my escape from it all.

We'd decided to really make the most of the holiday week. Our plan was to fly into San Francisco and drive north to Fresno to spend Christmas with her parents (whom I liked very much). Then we'd spend New Years Eve in Las Vegas before flying back to Dallas.

It was 6:00 am on the busiest travel day of the year at one of the nation's busiest airports, DFW, and we were in line to check in our luggage. She-who-shall-not-be-named (let's call her Dallas since she reminds me of everything I hated about that city) had been complaining nonstop for nearly two hours. She'd complained that I was running late, even as we left fifteen minutes earlier than planned. She complained all the way to the lot where we dropped off her car because there was traffic, even though we'd expected it. She then complained as we waited for the airport shuttle. By the time she started complaining to the airline attendant about the line not moving fast enough, I'd lost my patience. Off to the side we heard a man griping because his flight reservation had been somehow lost and another airline employee was trying to calm him down. As he got belligerent with the airline attendant, Dallas looked at me with a quiver.

Oh god, she's going to have a meltdown. I haven't even had breakfast yet. Not a cup of coffee nor a fucking muffin, and I've got to deal with Ms. Doomandgloom? No.

"I'm done. I'm done with the complaining and the freaking out and the nightmare scenarios. I. Am. Done. Give me the tickets... from here on out, I'm handling everything, and you'll see what happens. Everything will be just fine. EVERYTHING."

She was even more shocked by my snapping at her than I was... that wasn't the way our relationship worked. Normally, she gave it and I took it. Obviously not this time - so she handed me the tickets as optimism took over. It was as if the entire world wanted her to shut the fuck up, because everyone and everything conspired against her need for misery in order to teach her - and I - a lesson.

Her lesson for the trip was that optimism and a positive attitude go a long way. My lesson was that she wasn't that person. Ever.

We spent Christmas with her picture-postcard-perfect family. And she complained. Fine. We then spent New Years Eve in Las Vegas before heading back to Texas. And she complained. Fine. As we stood in the Vegas airport, waiting for our flight, she brought the art of complaining to a level I'd never imagined possible.

She was bored and clearly looking for something to do. "Got any quarters left?" "Sure" I replied, handing her my last two to use on slot machines in the airport. Yes, slot machines are EVERYWHERE in Vegas.

She put them into a fifty cent machine and pulled the lever.

As we stood in front of the slot machine she'd just hit the jackpot on... as we waited for airport security to escort over someone from the bank with thousands of dollars because she'd won more money than the slot machine actually possessed... as a crowd gathered to take in the spectacle...

...she complained about the wait.

::::: | Thursday, Dec 23 2004 at 10:13 AM
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Betsy said:

Oh, Christmas of 2001 was definitely a holiday to forget, all the way around.

While you were careening through Fresno in a convertible, I was driving to southern california with two kids and an ex (who was actually my ex by then) in a minivan for an extended trip with his family (whom I adored - far more than I did their son by then - and who were all grilling me about what it'd take to get us back together.)

We did it, of course, for the kids. Neverevereverever again...

::::: | December 24, 2004 11:11 AM

lisa said:

wonderfully written story, you beautiful person.

happy happy!

::::: | December 27, 2004 5:10 PM

rats! said:

Ugh...the vortex of Christmas 2001. Wonder why it was so bad all around? I certainly would have preferred a convertible in Northern California to my first Christmas in Portland with my ex. Yes, it should have been good...would have been good if he hadn't kissed his best friend's wife in our kitchen during our holiday party. Sigh.

Anyway, this time of year I'm always reminded that I am who I am because of all the things that have happened to me. Good and bad, fun and painful, exciting and mundane. They all combine to make me who I am, and for that I am thankful. I'm also thankful for your rockin' webpage/blog that has helped me put all my shit in perspective and cherish those things that matter and forget about those things that don't. Thanks Jalpuna.

--A dedicated fan

::::: | December 27, 2004 5:12 PM

Me! said:

Wow - there is no way I'm worthy of a comment such as that one! Thank you, and best wishes

::::: | December 27, 2004 5:16 PM

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