As had been established earlier, and in the interest of preventing among the guests general envy, jealousy and the inevitable slaughter that accompanies, Rob and I had agreed to exchange our Gifts of the Holy Day in advance of the Par-Tay.
Now, a fortnight earlier I had sent my lab director, Sang, to scour the local smoking-paraphernalia/ultraviolet-light-response-velvet-posters/frissled-bee-golfing emporia to acquire the very finest water-filtration smoking hookah available. As it would turn out, the very finest hookah pipe is indeed quite fine, and expensive, and owing to certain budget shortfalls as we close upon the end of the fiscal quarter, it seemed entirely infeasible to purchase this fine item for my beloved and trustworthy Rob.
But, the Holy Day Spirit, she did indeed have my by the hooks, lines and sinkers, and so I resolved to make certain sacrifices in bringing to bear this jolly season. Over the years, interested parties have, on the occasion, made certain propositions, vis a vis some of the more esoteric items I have come across and crafted in my extended and seemingly boundless lifetime. In particular I recall Archimedes veritably begging for a certain array of polished brass mirrors I at one time kept outside of Syracuse. On another occasion, late in the operation of his JapoSlaughter World Wide Ware Deux, the Hairy True Man was desirous of my Fat Man (Ha Ha! True Man, indeed! Slavering as he did for my Fat Man [wink,wink], we would know that Hairy True Man to be as True a Man os Alberto Kinsey or any Greek politico, would we not?) Had I an American nickle for each time that I had said "No, Nikita, you may not purchase of nor borrow my Elektronal SoulSmelter" I would, doubtless, have $6.85; a small sum of money, but a fine little herd of silver buffalo, is it not?
Of course, in these late days of the decline of gruntmonkey surface man, the overtures by nations and their elected leaders have slacked off, somewhat, while the requests of certain non-state players have upticked markédly. One might term this a shift in demography. So, it was indeed fortuitous that, as I was sinking in amongst my inky despair at how I might ever acquire funds sufficient to purchase the fine hookahed pipe I so ardently desired to gift to Rob, that an offer came in. Yes, it was a sacrifice to part with my very most favorite weaponized hybrid Influenza/Ames-strain Anthrax aerosols but . . . well, but the sum was princely, and little is too good for my dear Rob.
I called Sang to bring forth the gift for Rob, and there was a rending and tearing of paper, as flesh, and Rob split open the box, viewed of the contents, and was struck of the awe. "Oh, dude," he reached in with his clever paws and daintily, reverently, lifted for the hookah pipe. Its blown glass body, etched with a gossamer web of gold filigree, caught and refracted the lab's fine florescent light. The two for-sucking-upon pipes of leather wrapped rubber, with carved rose-wood mouthpieces, hang down from the pipe's gilded top, just below its bowl, giving the entire apparatus the appearing of a spread-jawed gilded glass squid, diving deep with hunters charging ahead for slaughter.
It was, indeed, a thing of beauty.
Rob looked up from his awe, slack jawed and eyes a glitter with the true love of object adoration. "Lord A., this is too nice, dude. This is . . . shit . . . this is fucking great. This is a helluva lot better than 2002"
"I appreciate much your love of it Rob. Why do you not 'spark it the up' now with some of your botanical glaucomas treatment."
And at this, Rob went chromatically strange; upon his face there was a sudden reddening. I am made to understand this is caused by the shaméd dilation of blood vessels shallow to the skin.
"I . . . um. Shit, dude, I'd love to— this fucking bong is goddamn cherry, Lord A., but . . . I was totally short of do-re-mi to get you your gift, and payday isn't until the 31st, so I had to hock all of my weed to get you this." He then jogged to his cubicle, calling as he went, "Dude, this is so ironic," and held up a gift for me. This, he handed to Sang, so that it might be held up for my better inspection, and then diswrapped.
For a brief moment, viewing of the box in Sang's fine-fingered and clever oriental hands, I was gripped in a panic: the size, the shape, the shift of the contents and apparent weight as Sang lifted it for my inspection, it all betold the small, automated petri-dish incubator that I had been singing the praise of some months back. Expensive equipment, and here I had sold off the very specimens I had wished to further culture.
"Dis-wrap of it, Sang," I said with trepidation. Sang did so, revealing a box which itself revealed nothing. Before Sang could continue, I bid him pause.
"Rob, I do now make of the confession: much as you sold all of your weeds so as to buy my fine gift, thus denying you the weed which would make my gift to you such an apt pleasure, I too have sacrificed my must fond thing— my lovely Influenza-Anthraces I had wished to further cultivate in your gift to me."
Rob did gasp, "No way!"
"It is indeed the way."
"Dude, this is so fucking ironic!"
"Indeed! Sang, open of the box, so that we may bask in this moment of purest giving and receiving!"
And Sang did pull of the boxtop, revealing my gift from dearest Rob.
Rob shook of his head, disbelievfull, "So fucking ironic, man."
I looked within the box.
"Yeah, Lord A."
"These are cowboy boots," Sang lifted one for the room's inspection: fine Tony Lama boots, of the tooled-leather and ostrich flesh toe, with a riding heel and silver spurs which jangled in the convection currents set to stir by the heating units, and glittered in the afternoons dying middlewestern midwinter light.
"Yeah! Aren't they bitchin'?"
I considered the moment, and the manifold meanings of irony— none of which were clearly embodied in what had transpired, when viewed in total, but which were each their own beast dwelling in that room, with the Christmas Spirit, and the Chanukah Spirit, and the New Year Spirit approaching, and the Old Year Spirit in recession, and Tet past, and Ramadan past, and the Still Ambulatory and Rest-Less Deceased Spirit of Tom Olafsdottir, and myself for always, and Rob and Sang and everyone, each of us, blesséd and blasted and strange.
"I have no feet, Rob."
So, indeed. So very so. It is so oft so very impossible to refute Rob, his nature.
"Thank you, Rob. These are beautiful, and them I shall cherish. It is, indeed, much better to ForGive, than to ForGet, is it not?"
"Right on, Lord A. Merry fucking Christmas."
"Agreed, Rob. Chappy Chanukahs at you."
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