I can't remember a Christmas moment that made me wish I had pursued a path other than the one I ended up following ? accounting, say, or pest extermination, or erotic dancing ? than when, one by one, my mother-in-law, Linda, and my sisters-in-law, Stephanie, Heather, and Jane, each ripped open the wrapping of their gift from my father-in-law, Larry. Revealed slowly from underneath the torn paper was a ghastly sight ? all of the gifts were my new book
Although I know it was a sweet gesture on Larry's part, I was ? in equal parts ? mortified and horrified. For me, it sent several messages, the biggest and most noisy being that my own negligent and lazy ass had obviously not sent my in-laws copies, therefore my father-in-law was forced to buy a stack and distribute them. I, however, hold tight to the philosophy that I refuse to be a book pusher. I have known and encountered (and received books from) authors that keep cartons of stock in the trunk of their cars just in case someone expresses a flicker, even a brief fleeting one, of interest, feigned or imagined. To me, that's equivalent of being a sample lady at Piggly Wiggly trying to force chunks of Hillshire Farms Sausage dangerously close to their FDA-imposed expiration date on unsuspecting shoppers. In my view, handing your book to someone when it's unrequested essentially says, "This is free, you know. Retail, this would set you back at least twenty bucks. In return, I expect an extensive and glowing review to feed my insatiable ego in five to seven working days, please." In addition, handing my book to a family member is like kicking sand in the face of a prisoner. It can't say anything aside from, "Thank you for being my victim. Your most embarrassing moment in life is on page 48." It's a maneuver straight from the Ted Bundy School of Grace playbook.
While everyone sat flipping through the new book, trying to find which portions of their lives were now in print and required explanations to fellow co-workers, Flash, a wobbly, thick-waisted Nerf football of a dog, waddled over to Jane and made several odd coughing sounds. Seconds later, he was lapping up a ham and turkey meal (fed to him bit by bit by bit for hours by two rogue brothers-in-law who had broken into the ho ho ho booze a little early) that had returned from his digestive tract for a repeat performance. Jane, understanding that the fat, tiny dog was gobbling up his own sick, saw his lack of holiday decorum as a highly offensive one, and considering her mouthful of peanut butter pie, well, couldn't help but do a bit of retching of her own.
"What can I say?" Jane's husband Justin said when Jane returned from her Christmas vomit in the bathroom. "I married a delicate flower."
From below me, I heard a number of strange coughing sounds and looked down just in time to hear Jane gag again. There Flash was, busily licking up the barf he had just ejected onto the top of my cowboy boot.
"I guess third time's a charm," I said as I let Flash finish his own business, and then took a big bite of my pecan pie.