Christmas Eve was very fun. What I remember of it, anyway. What's that mnemonic? "Wine after beer, oh dear"? Anyhow, I woke up to the soundtrack to Zulu pounding in my skull and the discovery that my tongue had been mysteriously replaced by a tongue-shaped piece of flannel. A quick stagger about the house confirmed that there wasn't an aspirin tablet to be had this side of the local convenience store.
I got dressed and decided to combine the aspirin run with a long-standing Christmas tradition beloved by misanthropic hermits across the South: A hearty holiday meal, alone with a book, in the quiet confines of the local Waffle House, while sipping eleventeen cups of coffee.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I could tell something was amiss. All the parking places were full, and every available nook and cranny that wasn't a parking space was also full. The chaotic result looked as though a demolition derby had been stopped in mid smashup, with all the drivers just parking where they were to hop out and get a cup of joe. What were all these people doing here? Didn't they have families? Upon opening the door, I found that the situation was worse than I thought: Not only did these people have families, they were families. The little row of chairs where one is supposed to patiently wait for a booth was a teeming, seething mass of aberrant humanity; half of it knee-high, and all of it loud. It was like the extras from a school play production of Deliverance had all suddenly gotten a craving for country ham. Not the best place to bring a hangover.
Muttering "Aren't y'all all supposed to be over the river and through the woods someplace?", I elbowed and kneed my way to an open spot at the counter and attempted to shout my order to the harried-looking waitron over the clash of plates being washed and the hissing roar of twelve pounds of hash browns being cooked simultaneously. A pleasant-looking gentleman took the stool next to mine, and asked "Hey, don't you work at Coal Creek Armory?"
I did not growl "Not today, I dont."
I did not shoot the place up in a hail of gunfire, resulting in a standoff with the local SWAT team.
I did not break down crying and beat my forehead against the countertop.
I smiled and said "Why, yes sir, I do." and finished the conversation with a promise to score some more cases of bulk 9mm for sale by this Thursday, so he'd be able to buy some for the shooting outings he takes with his son.
I stopped at the inconvenience store on the way home, drawing a knowing chuckle from the guy behind the register as I plopped my bottle of aspirin, bottle of V8, and bottle of Gatorade on the counter. "A very Merry Christmas, huh?" he asked.
"You don't know the half of it," I replied with feeling, "but you can read all about it when I get home."