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September 2, 2013 | Nonfiction

Holiday Festival Invitations

Tom Burke

Holiday Festival Invitations photo

I’ve gotten in the habit of writing these long email invitations and party reminders for parties I host at my place. Here’s from my 2nd Annual Holiday Festival party. I’ve got a Cherry Tomato Festival thread, and most recently, my Back Porch Charter School Prom. They’re real parties, but they’re just parties.


 

Sent on 10/23/12

Hey, friends, it’s great to see you!

But, shhh, please keep it down.

What’s that? Oh, you can’t see me? Well, that’s not surprising. Look up, over to your left, a little more. Yep, that’s me, I’m right there, but in full camouflage. I’ve even got one of those neoprene tree bark face masks on, so no wonder I blend in. That’s the point.

Out here, up here, the air is fresh and crisp. Smell that? It’s the low pressure system, dense and saturated and clean, with the mild sourness of decomposing leaves—the cycle of life, people!—fresh in my nose and lungs, with just a faint odor of teriyaki turkey jerky in the mix.

You see, I’m in my tree stand hunting game, collecting offerings for the upcoming 2nd Annual Berwyn Ave Holiday Festival. I’m mostly on the lookout for some swine—to spiral cut with my samurai sword—but so far I’ve only got a bunny, a baggie of chickadee feathers (all that remains, apparently), an albino squirrel (kind of on accident), and one tabby, who, for the love of god, wouldn’t stop looking at me funny.

Agreed, I’ve got some time until Holiday Festival festivities are upon us, but I wanted to alert you to the first Holiday Festival update available:

Preparations Are Most Definitely In Full Swing!

And so, without another moment’s delay, please mark on your calendars or planners or what have you the date, time and location.

Holiday Festival
Saturday, December 8th, 2012
7:30 pm

Friends are always welcome.

XOX
Tom

Disclaimer: no actual cats were harmed in the creation of this invitation.

 

 

Sent on 11/13/12

Dear friends,

I send warm greetings on this brisk fall day! 

I’m writing to remind you about the upcoming Holiday Festival, of course.

But I also wanted to reach out because I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps lately. There are a number of factors at play here—always are—but one of them concerns some of you, and so I thought I’d address it here in our forum.

This “thing” has to do with some reactions to my first Holiday Festival invitation.

Let me please state for the record that I do not kill any creatures willy-nilly. I do not endorse or approve of that kind of thing. Maybe the occasional piglet or a few Gulf shrimp—or a little something off the tube steak tree. But, friends, please know that I do not put living things in my crosshairs for no reason.

Which brings me to the tabby housecat from my first email:

“and one tabby, who, for the love of god, wouldn’t stop looking at me funny.”

First off, theoretically, let me please point out that I’m not sure why the fate of a housecat is more affecting than the loss of an albino squirrel, but that’s neither here nor there.

And yet, this tabby.

There I was in my tree stand, feeling confident and happy in my full camouflage, daydreaming about how happy you all would be—how truly happy I would be, watching—as you pieced together a ham sandwich or dipped a 20-22 count shrimp tail into my ho-made cocktail sauce, etc., and then all of the sudden I noticed a tabby cat, “the” tabby cat, who was staring me down and continued to do so for an excruciating half an hour.

We were both so still.

And, yes, it was looking at me funny, but I should have expanded on that. I could see in its eyes that the tabby was passing judgment on me. And, suffice to say, I did not make the grade. How do you like that? Like, like I’m some kind of criminal or something? Or otherwise undeserving? Undeserving of what, exactly, tabby cat?

I filled with rage, that’s the truth—who wouldn’t? But, I didn’t actually exact justice on the housecat, not like I said I did. First I hissed at it through my neoprene tree bark face mask. Nothing. Then I threw a mostly empty can of Coke Zero its way, then a medium-sized hunk of teriyaki turkey jerky, my last piece. The tabby cat yawned, then wandered off nonchalantly.

Why’d I do that? Lie to you all about annihilating a tabby cat? I’m not sure. Maybe I said it in order to sound tough or something. I don’t know. I don’t feel tough now. Maybe I was embarrassed that a tabby cat judged me rotten. There's some gravity there.

If it makes any of you feel better, the whole thing has traumatized me somehow. I took four Benadryl before bed last night, and still I woke up no less than a dozen times to the same dream I’ve been having since I crossed paths with the tabby cat. This dream: I’m practically nude in a giant dish of whole milk, and there are an impossible number of tabbies, 30 foot tall tabbies, mind you, who are lapping at the milk, and their gritty tongues keep tossing me around the milk dish. Like I’m nothing but a milk-lump, whatever that the heck a milk-lump is. Being in that milk with those huge tabby tongues everywhere, it’s like water boarding or something.

Man, I fucking hate cats.

But, eh, how'd I get stuck on this tangent? As though you all give a crap about enormous, gritty tabby tongues or milk-lumps? Let’s reset, if we can.

Here’s the take away: Holiday Festival on the horizon. Honey baked ham--very likely. Shrimp cocktail--quite possibly. Fish House Punch--definitely (please make arrangements to travel by cab or via public transportation, if possible).

If you’re able, please RSVP to this email. Friends, as always, are very welcome.

Sending my best,
Tom  

 

 

Sent on 11/30/12

Friends!

This weather has me feeling giddy, and the fact that it’s Friday—plus, I recently completed a little experiment, which had very interesting results. But first, let’s attend to business:

Reminder!

2nd Annual Berwyn Ave Holiday Festival Ho-Down
Saturday, December 8th, 2012
7:30 pm

Now, this experiment. It was the result of some hate mail that came in, again, because of all that business with the tabby cat. Remember? That tabby cat…

I thought about the tabby cat a lot, especially because of all those sick dreams of getting licked and smacked around a giant milk bowl by those gritty tabby cat tongues.

That tabby cat perplexed me, and me, I’m much more of an experiential learner than anything else, so, I wanted inside the beast. I wondered, what makes a tabby cat tick?

So I got myself a tabby cat suit— an extremely lifelike one, though for the record, I seriously doubt it was made of real tabby cat pelts. It fit a little snugly, but, I considered, maybe having fur instead of skin always felt snug like that? And so, as tabby cat, this was the new normal? A snug fit, always? Wow, a totally new normal. That blew my mind a little.

I pressed on.

Tabby cats are naughty, methought, so as a first course of action, I unapologetically stretched out on my couch, a distinct no-cat zone. Then I wiggled around a bit to free up some of the loose fur from my exterior. Mmm, that felt pretty good. I did it some more.

By the way, did I mention that I took off work for this experiment? Of course I did, I had to, because tabby cats don’t generate income, and I wanted to be as true to life as possible. So, outstretched on the couch, I carefully pawed at the remote control until the TV turned on. I then pawed some more until I had Family Feud on, and then until it was really loud. There, I thought, tabby cat heaven. :-)

But, hmmm? Now what for tabby cat?

Cat nip, that’s what. So I made some noises of helplessness and neediness from my perch there on the couch, but no one came. Probably Family Feud was too loud, I figured, so I shrieked louder: Meeeooww! Meeeooow! Meeee Waaaant Caaat Niiipppp! Meeeooow! Still, no cat nip arrived.

After about twenty minutes of meowing, and at a Family Feud commercial break, I pounced off the couch and over towards my pantry for some man-cat nip, a.k.a. bourbon, and I poured myself a giant bowl. Meow. I slunk back over to the couch with my bowl of cat nip. Meow.

I lapped and drank, and by the time the People’s Court was signing off, I no longer doubted whether or not cat nip can hit you hard. It can. Apparently cat nip can also make your fur feel even tighter than it felt before. Wow, meow. And, I found too that cat nip can be very inspirational.

First, cat nip inspired me towards Holiday Festival Ho-Down decoration. I began to hang festive twinkling lights around the apartment. Very nice. Meow! But that cat nip, I’m not even sure how, but I got myself impossibly tangled up in several strings of twinklers, the result of a not-so-well-planned blown-bulb search. But, all the while I felt very playful, meow, like a real tabby cat. Sip-sip-meow! I found myself rolling around on the floor in my tight tabby cat fur getting more and more tangled, and I loved it! Meow!

I was entertained by the holiday twinklers for over an hour--so fun!-- but then, just like that (snap!), I was struck with the inspiration to do something else, something I’d never done before: I wanted to judge someone, tabby cat style.

I became very focused.  I didn’t bother untangling the twinklers from my body. I drained what remained of the cat nip, then quietly slipped out the back door and down the back stairs.  Meeeooow. 

I kept a low profile, at first, and just the yellow of my eyes were visible beneath the dumpsters, from underneath cars, from deep within bushes, etc. That cat nip had unsteadied me slightly, I’ll admit, but I was very spry still, and quite limber.

I adjusted to my surrounding though, and soon I became bold—and tabby cat got all up in that face.

It was a night to remember, friends. I judged the shit out of everyone in my neighborhood.

I judged the shit out of passengers leaving our fancy new L station. Too good for the old one, eh? Judged!

I judged the shit out of the cashier at Jewel who didn’t want to sell me any more cat nip. How Dare You? Judged!

Man walking his dog? Judged!

Dog being walked by his owner? Judged!

Even a lousy parking job: judged!

A baby in a stroller began crying when it saw the tabby cat: and yes, it was painful, but…  judged!

Free drying at the Laundromat? What the hell? Why? Judged!

Meow!

But, worry not, no judgment will be passed on the night of the Holiday Festival Ho Down, that I can assure you. Hope to see you there.

Meeeeoow,
Tom

 

image: Ryan Molloy


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