Another short look at domestic ennui
The thing was the Ghost of Christmas Past wasn’t really throwing a dinner party—his wife was. He had been caught up in her whirlwind of planning for three months, though. He didn’t ask many questions and he didn’t make much fuss. He just did what he was told and kept his head down. His only job was to make sure that this went off as perfectly as she had planned it so he could a live normal and quiet life until the next big event. Plus, the woman was a demon in the kitchen. Any chance to get some of those puff pastry things she always made was worth the trouble.
He waited in the car as the current song winded down on the radio. It was some crap from the 1990s. He didn’t really recognize it but had decided that it was either Counting Crows or the Spin Doctors. This was the music she enjoyed. She listened to Paula Cole and watched reruns of Boy Meets World and collected Beanie Babies. Still, she was probably the most normal woman he’d ever had the pleasure of knowing.
He’d forgotten the ice and knew he’d never hear the end of it. He’d gotten the spicy mustard, though—that was the original reason for the trip. Six ounces of mustard for eight dollars. Who was coming to this party, the Pope? Maybe one of those old Popes that they say consorted with the Dark Lord. I bet a Devil Pope would want to eat eight-dollar mustard. He sort of wished that were true. A visit from an evil Pope would turn this party out.
Occasionally, he’d allow the small things that she did to annoy him. It had taken him a while to get used to the world of electronic messaging, including emails and texting. She even made him create a Facebook page. The troubles came when she started to use multiple question marks to end a sentence. She also typed non-words like “totes” instead of using “totally.” She used “whateva” instead of “whatever.” It infuriated him to no end. He often thought long and hard about the age difference between them.
He stopped himself from being negative and thought about how much she wanted this party. She really wanted to do this for her new friends from work, and he was going to play along. She needed this. She didn’t ask for much. Plus, there would be those puff pastry things.
He had asked so much of her when they fell in love. It was enough to be in a relationship with a ghost, but a ghost of Christmas Past? It was a huge deal. By falling for him she had agreed to never have kids, because they would be ghouls. She had to agree never to talk about what her mate’s actual job was. He used to talk about his real job freely and openly. The main question he’d always get was how you become the Ghost of Christmas Past. He told them some nonsense about destiny and Christmas spirit, but the truth was that he’d gotten the promotion after the last guy was caught going to Christmas Past to watch women go to the bathroom. Eventually he decided that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. The cover story was that he sold bathroom fixtures. He actually subscribed to all of the trades about bath fixtures and accessories in case it actually came up in conversation. At this point, he knew enough to go into business for real if he wanted to.
He was nice to her friends and talked at length with her friends’ husbands. He went with her to various benefits for random societies. He saw films starring Jennifer Anniston. He had what most people would call a completely normal and balanced relationship.
The Ghost of Christmas Past sat the small bag containing the uppity mustard on the counter. He told her he’d forgotten the ice but that he would go back for it. She smiled and took the mustard from the bag. She thanked him.
He wondered aloud what eight-dollar mustard might taste like. She walked to the silverware drawer and took out a spoon that was smaller than any spoon he had seen. She opened the small jar of mustard, dipped the spoon in, and then gave it to him.
She waited patiently as he tasted. He rolled the mustard around his tongue. It tasted more like mustard than any mustard he had ever had.
Then, she gave him a puff pastry thing.
J’mel Davidson writes stuff for Birmingham Weekly almost every week, and we’re damned pleased about it. Send your comments to editor@bhamweekly or email J’mel directly at email@example.com.