I got out of cooking duty because I had to be the one to go get Ziggy at the airport. Not that I would have minded cooking, but with Claire and Janine butting heads over how each little thing should be done, it was probably better that I vacate. Claire had done a lot of the work of baking the cookies, but when it came to preparing this dinner, it looked to me like she was sitting back and criticizing while Janine did the work.
At the airport I parked the car and then went inside to wait. There were not a lot of people around and the holiday Muzak was horrendous. I figured the best place to wait would be at the bottom of the escalator to baggage claim, where there was one lone limo driver standing with a piece of paper with someone’s name on it. That gave me an idea. I had to beg a piece of paper and a pen from the woman working the newsstand.
And then I kept going back to check the Arrivals board. The plane had landed but it took a while to taxi, I guess, or to find gate workers, maybe. Almost a half hour after the flight was marked as having arrived, folks started to trickle off. No sign of Ziggy, which I thought was weird since he would surely have been in first class? Then I could hear a group of chatty, happy-sounding people coming down the escalator before I could see them.
It was Ziggy, leading a pack of flight attendants with an open bottle of champagne in one hand and a sprig of fake mistletoe on a string in the other. It looked like they had all been drinking, or at least making merry. When he saw me, and my sign, his eyes lit up and he ran down the rest of the escalator, smoothly set the bottle of champagne on the floor a few steps from me and then held the mistletoe over both our heads while he kissed me hello.
Yeah, right there in Tennessee. I couldn’t really fault him for being dangerously demonstrative though, when my pwn sign had said “I love you.” The flight attendants clapped and cheered as they passed by and he waved to them.
He left the champagne bottle right there and we went to the car and got in. He buckled his seatbelt with some difficulty; he was that tipsy. “So, what have I missed?”
“We baked a couple hundred cookies and I admitted to Claire I thought she was horrible to me when I was a child.” I shrugged as I put the key in the ignition. “Courtney’s jealous that Landon likes me and perturbed that Claire’s being nice to me now. I think that about covers it.”
“I think Court is more perturbed by the fact you’re being nice to Claire,” he said.
I shrugged again as I drove. “What am I supposed to do, scream at her? What would that accomplish?”
“Do you have pent up aggression you need to vent?”
“Not really? I mean, I’m finding it hard to be actively pissed off about things that happened ten years ago.” A lifetime ago, really. “Court lived with her a lot more recently and had to put up with extra weird bullshit from the second husband, though. So I don’t blame her for being more upset than I am. How was New York?”
“Off the hook. My goodness. I haven’t been sober in three days.”
He looked at his fingers. “Maybe two days. I’ve lost track.” He laughed. “I promise to stop tomorrow. I had to, you know. To fit in. Since I couldn’t, you know.”
“Sleep with anyone?”
“Exactly. Had to have a drink instead.” He nodded like that made sense. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, it has, and you’re worrying me a little.”
“Didn’t your shrink okay you to drink again?”
“She did, but that’s because she evaluated me a bunch of ways to determine I’m not an addict. She didn’t evaluate you.”
“Daron, come on, it’s Christmas.” He pouted. “Speaking of which, I don’t mean to be crass, but you know our relationship works best when we’re honestly expressing our needs…”
My eyes were on the road, not on him. “What do you need, Zig?”
“For you to fuck me through the mattress. Seriously. God.” He wriggled back against the front seat of the car. “I’ve been so good.”
That made me chuckle. “Good enough for Santa?”
“Yes. Mistletoe mischief would definitely be approved of by Santa.”
He laughed. “I’ve been making people kiss each other ever since the first rehearsal.”
“They don’t have to go along with it, of course, but oh.” He laughed again and drummed his feet against the floor mat of the car. “But they do. Go along with it, I mean. Someone had to get people to be less uptight. That someone is me.”
I wondered if there would be any fallout from that. Well, no use worrying about it now. “If we go back to the motel now, we’ll miss dinner. And probably never live it down.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. We’ll tell them the plane was late.” He threw his head back. “It can be a quickie if necessary.”
“Oh, all right.”
He clapped his hands gleefully and began unzipping his jeans.
“Um, what are you doing?”
“Foreplay. But you’re busy driving so I’ll just touch myself.” He wasn’t too drunk to get it up, apparently. “I’ve seriously been on my best behavior.”
By which I guess he meant now he had to let it all hang out, literally. I wasn’t really that worried. It wasn’t like we were going to get pulled over or ogled by semi-drivers. The roads were pretty empty.
So I took him back to the motel and fucked him through the mattress like he wanted. While we were in the middle of that he said, “Let’s make it this a Christmas eve tradition.”
“Let’s see if we even remember it next Christmas eve,” I said. “I’m not even sure you’re going to remember this tomorrow morning.”
“Oh, yes I will,” he said, and wrapped his legs around me.
Turned out we weren’t late for dinner after all, since the newly bought turkey hadn’t had time to thaw and so it took an extra hour to cook. So taking a sex detour was the best decision we made that night.
“I told you you should have soaked it first,” Claire was telling Janine when we came in. She had a glass of wine in her hand and was sitting somewhat crookedly in a living room chair.
“You should have soaked your head first,” Janine said sullenly. “Let’s just start eating everything else, before we end up going through another bottle.”
“Hear hear,” said Courtney, who was in the act of opening another bottle right then.
Landon had fallen asleep on the couch and had to be woken up to eat. “Come on, Lanny,” Janine said, shaking him gently. “Let’s get some food in your tummy.”
“Did the turkey finish?” he asked, rubbing his eyes. Then he saw me and Ziggy. “Uncle Ziggy!” He jumped off the couch and into a hug.
“The turkey’s almost finished,” Janine said, then added under her breath: “And he’s not your uncle but whatever.”
“I don’t think I like turkey,” Landon declared. “Can I have mac and cheese instead?”
“There’s plenty of mac and cheese, yes,” Janine confirmed. “Come to the table and then off to bed with you as soon as you’re done.”
“Okay. Can Daron and Ziggy read me a story?”
Ziggy raised a skeptical eyebrow, but I said, “Of course we will, if it’s okay with your mother.”
Janine hurriedly said yes with a fervor I didn’t expect. Landon speed-ate his mac and cheese while Court and Janine worked on getting all the rest of the food to the table and Claire worked on getting herself to the table.
“Make sure he brushes his teeth and puts on his jammies,” Janine said to me as Landon sprinted up the stairs.
“On it,” I said, and followed him much more slowly, Ziggy in tow. By the time we got up there Landon was already putting on his pajamas. He had flung his clothes off in a great hurry. “Your mom says don’t forget to brush your teeth.”
“That’s next,” he said, like, well duh Uncle Daron. We followed him into the bathroom. He pulled his toothbrush out of the cup, turned on the lighted mirror and sang into his toothbrush like it was a microphone and he was kindergarten Christmas Elvis. “On the first day of Christmas! My true love gave to me!”
“Oh no, kid, we’re not doing that whole giant, long song,” Ziggy said. “I promise we’ll sing all the songs you want tomorrow but right now the plan is book and then bed, right?”
“Right.” Landon turned on the water and proceeded to use the toothbrush for what it was intended.
Back in his room he jumped onto the bed but I said, “You know what would be a good idea? Picking up your clothes and putting them where they belong.”
He looked at me in surprise. “Do you pick up your clothes?”
“I do. When we go on the road it’s very important that I keep all my clothes where they won’t get lost. So it’s a good habit to do it before you go to sleep or you never know where they’ll be in the morning.”
“You go on the road with Uncle Remo?”
“And with Ziggy sometimes.”
“Right.” Landon started retrieving clothes from all over the floor and putting them into a laundry basket that served as a hamper. “You said you play the guitar with him. Just not yesterday.”
Ziggy shot me a look upon hearing that.
“Right. I stayed here with you instead.” I pointed at the bed.
“Okay.” Landon sobered and climbed into bed. He seemed to know he was pushing his luck somehow. “Here’s the book I want.”
It was a picture book with lots of things in it. Sorry, that description probably doesn’t do it justice. Ziggy and I took turns reading the pages pretty much automatically. Landon declared it the best book reading ever but he was yawning and his eyes were drooping. I think he was asleep before we turned out the light.
(Waving hello from Japan! -ctan)
Haha what is brewing downstairs! All so ominous.
Also, huzzah Ziggy is back and things seem immediately less tense, but also more tense in a completely different way!
Mistletoe mischief sounds like one of those situations where I hope everyone is definitely ok with themselves afterwards.
My family is liable to blow up any second so you never know what will happen when you leave the room…
I adore Landon, especially as kindergarten Christmas Elvis and talking about “Uncle Ziggy.” Kids are great at blunt questions, expecting the answers are given as earnestly as the questions are asked, and then assimilating whatever it is into their worldview as just another part of life that’s good or bad and moving along. They take people as they are and it’s beautiful.
Yeah, Landon doesn’t seem to have a lot of filters yet. Earnest is the only way I know how to answer.
I think I read that line about him kissing you at the airport 3 times, just to make sure I read it correctly. I couldn’t help thinking about the Daron who would’ve lost his mind about that. But then, that Daron wouldn’t make an airport greeting sign that says I love you. This whole chapter made me smile. I’m so happy for both of you. This has been the best fucking week and this chapter made it even better. Ziggy’s back!!! *happy dance*
It’s not that I don’t worry about it anymore, I do, it’s just that I don’t let worrying about it stop me. Or I worry about it afterward instead of before. or something.
And now I’m going to go tuck my 4yo in to bed. With stories. Because they’re important.
Well done Uncles.
Tiny humans are kind of fun once in a while, you know?
Gosh, back in the days when you could meet people at the gate…
I know, right? In small airports there wasn’t a big division between airside and landside, either.