Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In the velvet darkness, II: the rest of the weekend

The third weekend of December -- the velvet night of the darkest time of the year -- was for me filled with light, laughter, absurdity, and magic.

The magic of Winter Solstice

That Saturday night was my first Winter Solstice Celebration in Edinburgh, which I posted about here.

When it was over, and we had finished cleaning up, we caught a cab home.

And such a cab ride it was. 

Through the worm-hole

We lugged our bags and baggage to the taxi stand across the street, climbed into the first taxi, and entered a worm-hole

There was a stocking hung up behind us.  There were a neon tree and an electric wreath on the divider in front of us. 

As we got underway, the cabbie told us "There's a treat for you in the stocking, if you've been good."  I did not have the courage to reach in there, but Co-Conspirator did, and found good chocolate candy, which she generously shared.

The cabbie, having heard my American accent when we gave the address, asked where I was from; I said the US, he asked where, I explained, yada, yada.  Conversation ensued about how America has given the world some of the best music and musicians and recording artists, like Luther Vandross, you know, and...

Would we like to hear him (the cabbie) sing?  It's something he learned from one of the greatest American artists...

Sure!, we chorus.  (It's only a short cab ride, and we're punchy anyway.)  

He puts on a karaoke CD (truly!), and starts singing Barry Manilow's "I Made It Through the Rain."


I'm in the middle, wedged between Co-Conspirator and Beloved Wife.  Co-Conspirator is clutching my shoulder; Beloved Wife is carefully not looking at or touching either of us (well, except for being wedged tightly together).

This guy can actually sing, and sing well.  And he's clearly practiced and has good breath control.  (He even timed it well with the speed bumps!)  

And here is where our accounts diverge.

I think we're having a meaningful experience.  Sure, it's schmaltz!  But there's something really lovely and wonderful about it for all that.  Right? 

Noooo.  Beloved Wife and Co-Conspirator are having a completely different experience of the schmaltz.

(Or maybe it's treacle for them -- ?  That could be why.)

So we get back to the flat, get everything inside, and --

Collapse into gales of laughter. 

None of us can quite believe it all, and we all think it's the most surreal thing ever.

Co-Conspirator (who has a degree in a relevant field) decides it was a worm-hole.  There is just no other explanation.

I decide we must have gone through New York City on our way from St. John's back to our side of town, because really, where else would this happen? Edinburgh??

Eventually we have cups of her amazing peppermint tea and eat lots of dark chocolate digestive biscuits before she returns to her own nearby flat.  But we keep bursting into giggles.

The 80s are back

The next day, Beloved Wife and I went grocery shopping.

There's a Clarks shoe store in the same shopping center as our nearest grocery store, and we had a little bit of time and I needed boots, so we decided to duck in.  Plus, they were having a big sale.

I tried on some of what I needed, with Beloved Wife urging me away from plain weather-proof boots in hiking-boot styles, and towards trendy/dressy weather-proof boots.

"You know, it didn't occur to me that I could get dressy winter boots.  No wonder I wasn't excited about those.  These are much nicer." 

"No, no, you definitely need stylish boots."

(I feel like somehow, over the years, our shoe conversations have flipped 180 degrees.  I think I definitely used to be the one with dressier shoes (and boots).  Now she is.  (Maybe it's the influence of Dr. Isis -- ?)) 

They didn't have what I decided I wanted in my size, but I tried on some similar things. 

And then Beloved Wife found these lovely black leather zip-up slightly-slouch ankle boots with a buckle and chain on sale for £30.  They would fit a hole in my wardrobe, but were not what I had gone into the store to buy, and therefore I couldn't buy them, right?  But they were so cute.  And Beloved Wife thought they looked fabulous (actually, she used a different word).  And they had them in my size, and they fit.  (I have hard-to-fit feet.)  And they were on sale.  And they were sensible, comfortable, walkable, and sexy.

And they were giving me flashbacks to my adolescence.

I tried them on and walked over to the mirror.  "I feel like I'm back in high school.  Only I'm finally trendy!" 

The second (older) salesclerk looked at me and said, "Wow.  All you need are leg warmers!"

At which point I -- yes, it's true -- I pulled up my jeans legs and pulled down my leg warmers.

At which point she, Beloved Wife, and I collapsed into gales of laughter.

The salesclerk who was helping us returned from the back with another boot in another size.  "What?"  I showed her.  "Oh, that's cute!" she said, smiling and nodding.

Clearly of a generation which could not understand why it was hilarious rather than "cute." 

I looked at the other salesclerk and asked, "Have you seen 'Flashdance'?"  She nodded.  I solemnly intoned, "I promise I no longer own any ripped sweatshirts."  She giggled. 

I did buy the boots.  And they are totally awesome. And quite comfortable. 

And you can't even tell they're 80s boots if I'm wearing them inside my jeans.


Monday night, I went to a small work party/get-together with Beloved Wife, her work group, and some of their assorted family members.  In general, I enjoy her colleagues and their collective (and sometimes slightly warped) sense of humor.

Our host had said in the email invitation, that because they were missing pieces from the set, there would "probably be no flaming tongs"... but it turned out we were treated to the German tradition of Feuerzangenbowle, or flaming punch, after all.  Here's a link to a video, but it does not completely capture the magic (in the spiritual sense or the geek or chemistry senses) of blue flaming rum and sugar dropping down into the punch bowl and running around til burned. 

So we had light in the darkness, good-natured teasing, conversation, company, friendship, and lots of laughter on Monday, as well.

And then Beloved Wife and I had a few quiet days to ourselves before spending the rest of the holidays with family.


I hope your holidays were similarly blessed with magic, laughter, good companionship, friendship, family, love, chocolate, fire, unexpected blessings... and schmaltz.

(Just in case, here's a little extra schmaltz for you.  I'm sorry he doesn't have a Scottish accent like our cab driver.)

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