Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Summing It Up Nicely

Icicles. It has icicles.
Yesterday my old office working group invited me to their Christmas party, which is one of the best afternoons of the year. These folks work hard, and when they party--well, let's just say I build in a couple of hours of decompression-from-laughing time after each party.

This year the new boss brought gingerbread house kits and each of the six of us decorated a house. And because we are who we are (Americans) we couldn't just decorate a house for the sake of decoration, we made it a competition. The chef at the restaurant would decide the winner.

Now, there is a crucial fact that should be known about the make-up of this group: Four of them are artists of some kind. One graphic designer, one videographer, one web designer, and one boss/photographer/graphics person. Two of us were writers. I believe the other writer would not take offense when I say that our design skills are the equivalent of whatever babies do when they smear strained peas around on their high chair trays--good-natured and enthusiastic, but woefully inept. Woefully. Also requiring much clean-up afterwards.

So I was a little shocked when my gingerbread house began to look as if it had some intentionality to it. I've decorated enough birthday cakes (ineptly) that I know how a decorating tip works, so I fixed the house to the base with some scallops. Then I piped shingles, and cut fir trees out of green fondant, and holy cow, this was looking halfway decent! And then, because just the night before I had watched Mary Berry add pizzazz to her gingerbread house (oh, Great British Baking Show, how I love thee) I dragged some icicles off the roof.

Those icicles, I am not ashamed to say, were the bomb. They added a touch of authenticity, a of fleeting poke of memory muscle that spoke of winter and hot chocolate and peering out of frosted windows.

All of the designers, meanwhile, were bemoaning their medium. The walls wouldn't stay together, they whined. The icing was too thick, they moaned. This is terrrrrible, they muttered. This is looking sooo stoooooopid, they whinged. Your icicles are the bomb, they said, as they stealthily piped perfectly-shaped messages onto the roofs and broke miniature candy canes into chimney tiles. Wow, look at those icicles, they said, sprinkling their own creations with perfectly placed snow sugar.

And the other writer? Well, I hate to besmirch the talents of my fellow writers, but ha! His house had collapsed within the first five minutes so he just slathered it with icing, slapped a gingerbread onto one side, and made his way over to the appetizer plate.

Finally all of the houses were done and lined up on the next table. My heart was pounding. This calendar year not been my favorite. Could it...would it...might it finally be...might icicles be the magic ingredient that would redeem 2016?

And then the chef pointed to a house. A writer had won. The wrong writer.

"This is a skating rink, right?" the waitress backed up the choice. "That's really clever!"

The winner. 
Stupid 2016. You were a stupid year.

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