Brother where art thou?
Tole at home this Christmas
Christmas will be a tad different for me this year. It’ll be the first time ever celebrating it without my always great fun, younger brother. This year he’ll be spending Christmas on the beach with some Australians and a vast amount of sunburnt Irish people. Aside from my parents, he is the one who humours me most in still trying to retain some of the magic of Christmas now that we’re all adults. He can always be coaxed into playing board games, watching Homeward Bound and occasionally wrestling me on the floor. Ok, so the wrestling is more to do with drinking too much whiskey on the 25th than a must-do Christmas activity.
Note: whiskey drinking is not a tradition from our childhood. Our mother giving out to us and saying to ‘get up off that floor this minute’ is. Me loosing terribly and feeling sore all over until the New Year is more a thing from my teenage years when boy became man and took no mercy. I refuse to learn my lesson. He refuses to acknowledge I am half his size and can barely lift a bag of sugar. Lesson: whiskey blurs all realities.
It’s not that my other siblings emulate the Grinch or anything. They are just not as full of the joys as I am. We do Kris Kindle in our house, which I have to consistently try and rig because if you end up getting Brother A, he will actually give you money (in fairness quite a lot of it) to go and buy your own present, even though you specifically dropped hints that you wanted a ‘surprise’. He doesn’t inflict this on my parents though so I usually try and fix it in a diplomatic way, that he gets one of them. I feel strongly that not having to buy your own Christmas present contributes greatly to the occasion of gift giving.
Brother B is a bit more festive about things and can often be enticed into a game of Discover Ireland. Although for the rest of the time his head is usually hidden behind some obscure book that looks like it could bore somebody to death just by reading the sleeve. Our house as you can see, is absolutely wild at Christmas, or any given time of the year really. Come for the harvesting period I say, that’s when it all kicks off.
However, there will be some positives this Christmas. The first one is I don’t have a Christmas party to attend, the second is, I won’t be pining for the ‘Christmas text’ when the day finally arrives.
Christmas parties. Here’s the thing. I’ve only been to three and they have all been with different people. The first one, I fortunately had to bail early due to having tickets to a very important gig that night. Thank goodness, because it was just me and four salespeople with whom I had nothing in common and who bored me terribly. But I did get some free drinks and it was also revealed some time into the evening that the nickname of one of my bosses was “Tigerhorse”. I personally found this hilarious and it made it all worthwhile.
Last year, I had a lovely Christmas party. We had a great night, a few drinks in a couple of different pubs, soaked up the atmosphere, had the banter and swayed to Fairytale of New York at the end of the night. This is possibly how Christmas parties should always be. Free of any immoral actions or awkward conversations. Or seeing your superior throwing up on the side of the street. Nasty.
Now, the Christmas party in between these two is the reason I am always slightly wary of them. As a gay lady, depending on who you work with, what they are like etc, you may be subject to certain things. Now, the likelihood of the following happening is probably rare, but one should always be prepared. Also, as the saying goes, “there’s always one”. I got stuck with ‘the one’, at this particular Christmas party.
I was out at work, there were no problems that way. However, there was this one particular colleague who, given the openness of everything, could have easily queried me on my gay history over a lunch break, but no. She waits until our Christmas party night to ask about every gay thing that might have ever happened me. Now I have no problem with talking to people about my sexuality, within reason.
I do have a problem with it however when everybody else is dancing, having a generally hilarious conversation or out in the smoking area, banging into tables and having the time of Reilly without me. But no, I’m stuck there, for at least 45 minutes as I am given question after question. And I can’t really get up and leave because she has her hand, gently but firmly pinning me down. Fortunately I got out of it all relatively unscathed with my dignity intact in time for dancing to Mariah Carey, but you, my friend may not.
First hint: Beware of the ones you think are dying to ask you a litany of questions but you suspect need to have some Dutch courage in them to do it. Sit far away from them at all times lest you be sucked into anything that will last more than 10 minutes. You might identify such a potential episode by somebody elongating the word ‘So…’. If they turn to you with a mischievous smile and say ‘Soooooo’ let this be your warning sign and jump quickly to the bathroom/bar/other place in the room.
Second hint: If they do end up cornering you, put yourself in a position where they are not blocking your exit. I would suggest they sit down and you stand up, even if there is seating provided for you. This way you’ll always have the upper hand. You’ll have the added bonus of being able to shout “I can’t hear you up here, I don’t like that chair, I’m going to have to go somewhere else….(and in a quieter voice) far away from you.”
Now, if it so happens that they’ve already elongated their ‘so’ and have you in a position that is hard to escape from, well you’re a bit fecked. If they are not in any way superior to you, it’ll be easier to tell them to politely go away and stop annoying you. However, if they are one of the people you constantly need to be proving your greatness to, then you’ll probably still be in, ‘must impress and obey at all times’ mode.
Everyone loves the Spanish Inquisition
If you find yourself stuck in the latter situation be wary of a number of things.
Straight girls asking you too many questions is not always, if ever, a good thing. It can also just become really boring 8 minutes in. And you can always tell plain nosiness from genuine interest, it’s all in the tone. However, if she needs to be set straight (ahem) on some ill-convinced notions of homosexuality, then it is only right that you forgo any smoking area antics and get over it so that you can make the world a better place.
But, if she says, ‘oh, I’ve always wanted to be with another woman’, this is when an alarm bell should ring. Suggest that you will bring her out with you some night and, sort her out, as it were. That you have a friend you think she would get on well with. If she kind of touches you in a more than office appropriate manner, this is also a sign that you need to move or indeed big up your friend a bit more. “She is a model. Everybody wants her. I will make this happen. Just stop grazing my thigh.” If she then makes it blatantly obvious that she wants to get with you, this is terribly tricky.
If you are slightly evil/cunning you could make it work, that this does wonders for your career. But listen, this is not some film (one in which this sort of thing happens, you know yourself) it’s Ireland, in a recession. If you did get that promotion you’d probably only be paying more tax and you’d always wonder, was it because I’m really good at my job, or because of the Christmas party? Is she paying me off to stay quiet? Is this a bit like a very mild episode of Love/Hate? Does her dad keep pigeons?
Another thing that could happen afterwards is that she could try and get rid of you because she is filled with embarrassment every time she sees you. This is probably unlikely, but then if this was Love/Hate (and hey, I don’t know your line of work, reader) she wouldn’t think twice about it.
Other option is, you are reasonably drunk and you do it. You possibly have a terrible or indeed marvellous time and neither of you discuss it, EVER AGAIN. You just continue opening your briefcase like you own it, and like she owns you.
However, if you do actually fancy her, then you could just dismiss all of the above and go for it. Although be sure that you are away from the prying eyes of your work mates because they will never stop making hilariously timed comments throughout the working day. Remember though, she is still a straight girl at the end of it all (unless of course she’s actually not). This is just the Christmas party, not the beginning of a great romance. Just like Tigerhorse could never be your actual name, no matter how much you want it to be.
Really the motto here is, beware of the one who is drinking a lot, that you think is curious about your gayness and that doesn’t ever ask you even general questions about your social life/girlfriend etc. She is a simmering pot, about to boil over from want of gleaning further information. And if you have a girlfriend, you definitely should not be thinking about using it for promotion, I’m not sure herself would buy it.
To x or not to x, that is the question
The Christmas text. Now this is something I’m really happy about this year. Probably from the age of 18 (with a break or two in-between when in a relationship) receiving a warm Christmas text from the one you have your eye on/are madly in unrequited love with, has marred many a Christmas for me. Often I am so fraught over this business of getting a text message from a certain someone that I will spend an unnecessary amount of time (usually when peeling the sprouts and singing along to a Doris Day Christmas album) composing an over romantic text in my head and debating whether to put in an ‘x’ or not.
I only usually considering using ‘x’s when I’m seeing/going out with somebody, very drunk and feeling generous to the world, or if it’s a friend whose having a particularly bad time, which is a completely different thing altogether.
With the texting, I’ll usually hold out until evening to see if they text me first. If they get in touch before I do, I’m over the moon and there is no stress to the day. Look at that, 1 o clock, still only on the first tin of Roses. Amazing. ‘Happy Christmas one and all. Hope you are all having a lovely day’. Smiley face thing with a Santa hat. She clearly likes/loves me. She wants me to have a happy Christmas and not be miserable and upset. She also clearly wants the same for my beloved family that she has not yet even met. Who else could ‘all’ refer to in this specially composed message? Swoon.
I would then be all cool, wait about 7 minutes and write something terribly nice back, perhaps touchingly incorporating some warm Christmas anecdote she told me about previously. Ah, I’m so good to remember these minute details. Always listening and remembering every detail of your life story, like a friendly stalker who knows where you are, ALL of the time.
Love is an unused telephone
If they don’t text me, this is where the dilemma lays. I still wait until evening time before sending anything so that I can use the rest of the night waiting in hope that they will text back. But that’s grand because I’ll have already seen the main film on RTÉ1 a good five years ago so I’m not missing out on anything by ringing myself every few minutes and sending blank messages just to ensure my phone is still working. And so I send it, warm wishes incorporating the touching anecdote story. No ‘x’ as it was really just too risqué, and no questions so they don’t feel compelled to text me back. And if they don’t text back, it’s only because I didn’t ask them how their turkey was and did they have stuffing? But she probably hasn’t even checked her phone yet. Hour long soap specials, that’s where she’s at, no doubt.
This Christmas, I officially fancy nobody, no unrequited love, not even a general ‘I kind of like you’. Which is great! And ok, it’s quite close to Christmas, but still, I won’t be meeting anybody in the next few weeks that will have a sufficient amount of time to impress me to any great level and make me loose my concentration when peeling those sprouts. And putting this thought into words is definitely not a jinx on myself. Oh joy, oh wonder!
And on that note, hope you all have a lovely Christmas, free from awkward office antics and angst induced text messages. Oh sure here, have an x. X!