It's been a rather, well, strange sort of Solstice season for a certain family of southern-dwelling displaced Northernites; complete with a-religious overtones, slopping overings of goodwill and the occasional armed confrontation (verbally, as well as literally; metametaphysically thanking whatever illusory deity happens to be on (or off) duty this week).
If all this sort of stuff sounds exciting and omniconsuming to you in such a manner as, say, an underdeveloped whelk might be; then I heartily suggest that you punch up the 'N' key, grab yourself another jolt of milksop (or scotch [no use being redundant]) and go back to sucking your toes or other autofellatory appendages.
Well, with that out of the way; the bolder (or more foolhardy) among you brace yourself for YET! another installment of "The days, times and EtOh-haze of a globe trotting (and slightly unsettled (though ever increasingly windy)) Geologist and his interactions with that species from the left side and slightly askew reality known as "True Believers"".
It really started out innocently enough, planned in such a way as one might plan a race riot or tsunami; but after a particularly grueling 92 hour stint of well logging ("Entropy wins again! Everything's going to hell!"), this lonesome traveler found himself standing on line in a convenience (oxymoron) store in Katy, Texas. It was 3:36 a.m., 38 degrees Fahrenheit with a particularly noxious, Baytown-spawned wet and appalling breeze permeating the stratosphere (no fossils, I checked...). I was standing there, resplendent in my 5 day growth of oil-field aroma, down vest, Vasques, oilcloth duster and (in my apparent total lack of anything even approaching consciousness or caring about local customs, gun laws and decorum), a shoulder holster wherein nestled a well worn and well warmed .454 Cusall Magnum (Highwaymen be damned! I do so love Texas).
The non-English speaking counterman was a bit (perhaps, well deserved) befused and befuddled when I slid my "72 oz. Gonzo-Gulp Major Coronary-a-Cup" towards his obviously NASA generated laser scanner; and pulled back my duster to get my wallet.
I immediately (actually, probably 2 or three minutes into this fiasco) noticed that his comportment of placing his hands on the register and yelling in some sort of broken-if-not-totally shattered AsioEnglioInidioPakistanish of "Please! Do not kill me. The beer's in the left cooler!" was somewhat unusual; even for this part of the deep south.
"What is exactly this dimbulb's problem?" I mused as I fished about in my wallet for the requisite $1.35, curiously musing the addition of some well salted, and presumably suspect origin, "beef" jerky.
A hand appeared from the ethereal mists, clasping my shoulder; while an equally disembodied voice intoned: "Son. Robbery is no way to celebrate the upcoming celebration of the birth of our Savior".
Immediately wondering why the voice was so intent upon referring to itself in the plural; it dawned upon me that the cause of the counterman's consternation was the grim visage of the rather large 5 shot cannon of a sidearm that I still foolishly; although unbeknownst to the pistol, quite comfortable in it's well-oiled leather home, was carrying.
"Oh. Excuse me.", I excused myself. "I just came out of the field and didn't realize I was still packing this very large, deadly and rather ominous looking piece of hardware. Just the coffee, my good man."
Immediately, the systolics of all concerned dropped a few orders of magnitude.
The disembodied voice (with hand) revealed itself to be quite relieved, yet puzzled, in a sort of enigmatic way.
"Why do you carry such a weapon, and on the eve of our Savior's birth?"
I ignored the inherent conundrum of a singular person referring to themselves in the plural and explained in brief, although loquacious, three part harmony of my frustrating past fortnight minus nine.
"My boy. All that's behind you. Perhaps", continued the dapper gray clad figure emerging from the mists, "You would find solace and contentment in the celebration of the season".
I was about to explain to him that I had every intent of doing so; especially with the company of one Mr. James Beam and his pet Wild Turkey...
I listened perfunctorily to his intonations of "God" ("Which one?" I musedly mused...), goodwill and fellowship on this upcoming and heavily promoted feast of certain claimed deitic natalities.
"Well, sir." I related in a sleep deprived spirit of civility usually saved for certain self "Dr." monikered true believers of a certain electronic forum, "That's all well and good, but I happen to be an atheist and plan to spend a certain good portion of the upcoming festival days in a well deserved Kalmyk potato vodka induced haze of benevolence and inactivity; and, time and slumberiferous activity permitting, walloping pots for Houston's homeless."
"Your time, as would your attentiveness, would be most appreciated at our Christmas chow-down and brotherhood gathering this very next day."
How? How, could I refuse?
The next day dawned bright, as it so often does on days that it does not rain.
Bolstered by an attentive wife and family, 18 hours of total oblivion most normal people consider sleep and a curiosity that would certainly spell doom for a number of the species _Felis domesticus_; I loaded my GMC one-ton with various accouterments of mass-feeding; of which will become later evident.
I arrived at the appointed time, at the appointed place usually reserved for someone not lost. I sallied forth and sought out the dapper gray-clad gentleman of the previous night's encounter.
"So? Where would you like me to set up? " I asked.
"Set up?" quizzically, he quizzed.
"Yes. My stuff. Set up. As opposed to 'tearing down'." I replied.
Obviously distracted, "Over there would be fine. Hey!...The turkeys go over here!" he yelled in total distraction.
I backed my truck into a likely looking kiosk and began to unload. The CD player and extension cord drew no great interest. The crates marked with backward "R's" and "N's" drew a bit of attention. The large Savard speakers drew curious looks as did the Nesco roasters and what appeared to be a largish garbage can full of ice and an ominous looking hose.
The multitudinous plastic cups drew no notice whatsoever.
After assembly, I noticed some sort of devout intonations droning forth from a set of pathetic loudspeakers. Ascertaining that this was my cue to include myself in the festivities; Mannheim Steamroller's Russian Folksongs were added to the merriment.
The sun began to set upon this idyllic scene, as so often does when small arms fire is not exchanged. I butchered largish native birds, their flesh scorched in the manner of ways fondly Fahrenheit; doled out dressing and provided pudding to masses of members.
In all, I was feeling rather ridiculously satisfied in somehow, someway, providing solace to those less fortunate.
As they say, no good deed shall go unpunished; indeed, that was, or was not, to be the case.
In the ensuing interim, I had availed myself to what certain scotch-soaked infidels (or immunologists) would refer to in song and story as "Christmas Cheer". In other words, I was having a toddy; or, to the less felicitious, a cold one.
The crowd had thinned a bit and the obviously laggard and/or curious had assembled around my truck. The plastic cups that had previously garnered no attention were now being passed about with wild (although very controlled) abandon. The beer began to flow, as did my stock of Azeri, Uzbek and Russian vodka; not to mention my ever diminishing stocks of Georgian cognac.
Then it happened.
Someone began to sing.
Shades of Munich in October.
With the CD player blasting out various (multicultural) tunes in Russian, Uzbek, Farsi and a few really obscure dialects; and my stocks of potables rapidly heading for their own version of the Cretaceous/Tertiary event; I was confronted.
And me without my Cusall.
The dapper, gray-clad gentleman, the arbiter of all this frivolity, rose up to his full 1.5 m stature and demanded "Just what the hell I thought I was doing!"
Just then, the CD player broke into a rousing, Star-Trekish bagpipe assisted version of "Amazing Grace".
I handed him a beer and broke into the most heartfelt, and vodka engendered, basso-profundo he had ever heard.
We all held forth. We came to the line which speaks of worshiping God for 10,000 years. That sort of time span was too much for him to handle and too little for me with which to be concerned.
We broke off and looked at each other in quasiembarrassment.
Then we broke into uncontrollable laughter.
It was a good night.