Families all have their stuff. You’ve heard that before, right? I’ve heard it and usually agree, but until a particular day, a few years back, I really didn’t have an incident to point to. Yes, all families have dynamics and tensions, but in mine they are largely unsaid, and in the face of other stories I’ve heard, we seem to be on a harmonious scale.
As the youngest by many years, I didn’t have the day-to-day sibling tensions or rivalries most kids did. I also tried to be on my best behavior because I wanted more time with my brothers and sister. I didn’t want to squander quality time with petty beefs that, truthfully, would need some manufacturing.
Life has it’s way of doling out wisdom and woe, knowledge and blind sides, and eventually we all catch up to each other as we get older.
Cut to: Christmas 2009, Portland, Oregon. The city was halted by the worst snow storm in 50 years, and my entire family was meeting at my brother’s house, as the storm clamped down the city and its roads. Portland knows precipitation, but not this kind. The city seemed to take a hands-off approach or they simply hadn’t had to deal with that kind of weather. Either way, it took some doing to get there and for my folks it was tough with my dad’s mobility being low, by this point. We made it, and my brother’s home was lovely, warm, and big enough for us to enjoy our holiday together, under one roof.
The close quarters may have started to take their toll, when in a silly fit of rage I confronted my brother for playfully spraying me with two different cologne samples using more mist than one would use when applying bug spray. We sat there watching a basketball game and I couldn’t shake the cloying stench of competing colognes laid on so thick, I felt transported to a whorehouse in the Wild West. I was staying at a hotel and had no change of clothes, and as the meaningless Christmas Day game warbled on, I started to let my brother know my discomfort was starting to make me angry.
My brother mentioned his legendary resolve when it came to escalating practical joke feuds. Not having grown up with the rough-housing associated with siblings of a close age I didn’t take well to personal boundaries being crossed. For some reason the word escalate seemed to cue my escalating rage, and I let loose a tirade, in third person, speaking as if I was given the chance to confront a loved ones killer in a courtroom. My brother and everyone in the room felt the atoms shift and it was parried with a thrust from my brother that ended with an expletive and a door slam (either figurative or literal, I’m not sure).
My other brother had a t-shirt for me to borrow, which may not have fit, and I stewed in my juices as I’m sure my brother did in another part of the house. We were snowed-in, to some degree, (not like Minnesota snowed-in, but, close), so walking out of the house and taking a couple of laps was not at our disposal. My cologne culprit brother was also in a walking boot, at the time, so I’m sure he felt the lack of mobility more acutely.
We made our peace in the kitchen a few hours later. It’s laughable today, and I should be glad to be in a family where this event is on the list of low-lights. I do wish it never occurred, but if you eavesdrop, to any degree, and hear the kinds of things families have done to each other, it makes you laugh, but I swear, if he comes at me with a spray bottle, I’m gonna have something for him.
I meltdown, I lose it sometimes. I have anxiety and I explode over small things way too often. Hearing other people do it makes me laugh, which is the worst thing to do when a dude is losing his shit. It is a wave that I sometimes can’t stop, and when I think of other people laughing at me it might actually help me stop. Here are a couple beauties you might not have heard.
It’s embarrassing that I have approached this level of bugging out, I have empathy because I’ve been there, and I have sympathy because so far these meltdowns have been private. Who knows how I’d come off if there was a camera or a live microphone.
I like my name. My Dad told me it means “Mankind”, which is weighty and cool. It’s also fairly unique. The only other Carl I knew growing up was on my Babe Ruth baseball team. It’s where I started referring to myself as Carl D.. Our team won the town series, with very little help from me or the other Carl, and we got jackets. Mine read Carl D., and his read Carl C., in cursive stitching and I wore that jacket everyday ’til about a year ago.
My mother was wary of names that could be shortened to a nickname, can you imagine being Dick for the rest of your life? Or Gordo? Carl is Carl and not much else can be done to it, other than adding a vowel at the end to try and mock me for being a girl — but even kids on a playground know that’s a hack insult.
Where my name takes a bad rap is in film and television. Carl is usually the name for a dullard, criminal, or a convenience store cashier. There are myriad examples, Sling Blade’s hero is Carl Childers, Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack is named Carl. The guy who killed Patrick Swayze in Ghost is Carl, there’s a goofy Carl in an Adam Sandler film, and the list continues. There is also a recent sketch on SNL, that I haven’t seen, that causes people to warble my name loudly at the side of my head over and over again.
The only time you feel really bad is in a gift shop when you scan through the small license plates looking for your name. Carl is a 70% proposition, and it feels good when I see it, even to this day. We like seeing our names in print. I don’t know the number, but monograming must be a multi-thousand dollar industry. What does it say about us that we want to put our names on everything we can? Carl D. wonders.
Clicking through my morning ritual of websites I saw a headline talking about 5 things not to do at a company holiday party. If you aren’t already half way to number four on that list without having to read the story I guess I found the one person who has never read a story like that, annually.
I don’t mean to bag on the writer, whom I don’t recall by name, or the exact media source, but let’s say it’s the type of site you might have as a homepage. I’m sure some assignment editor said, “we need you to dust off the office party story,” like the ornaments that come down from the attic every year, “and get cracking.”
Without the benefit of having read the actual article I am going to attempt to guess the 5 things not to do at an office party.
1. Don’t get hammered.
2. Don’t try to tongue kiss a co-worker.
3. Don’t bad-mouth the boss.
4. Don’t try to tongue kiss the boss.
5. Keep your pants on.
You might be able to argue a few points to varying degree, but I think you get the gist. Having attended and having worked many company parties, I can’t argue the advice, but are we really saying something new? Here are 5 things to avoid at a company party, that have occurred to me or around me at aforementioned parties. I mean, if we’re doing lists.
1. Don’t switch to liquor, if you only drink beer, just because it’s an open bar.
2. Don’t encourage bar top dancing, and try to Tarzan Swing from the lights.
3. Don’t get too competitive with the inflatable Sumo Wrestler Suits.
4. Don’t listen to the bartender when he says you don’t need to tip. Tip the bartender.
5. Keep your pants on.