Uncle John was an aspiring portrait painter and during our annual Christmas visit to Jamaica used to rhapsodize to the assembled cousins about skin tones (umber! ochre! sienna!) while my mother translated softly for the younger children (brown, brown, brown) as he waxed ever louder and more dramatic until we were all tired out by his histrionics, his unflagging enthusiasm for his art abraded our nerves like #24 sandpaper, and we all looked forward to our respective anxiolytics: Librium for Auntie Margaret, Xanax for the twins, Ativan for Paul, Nepenthe SR for Mum and Dad, and Tenormin for me.
The Trigon Har consulted with his two colleagues concerning the possibility of moving the center of framiggle manufacture to Zarplon IV, knowing that Trigon Nalt's negative response would be dictated by his tendentious inclination to parsimony, but at the same time hoping that with Trigon Solu's support he could persuade Nalt to see that the expense and inconvenience of such a move would be offset by its roborant effect on the local economy and much-needed uplift of the depressed population.
Owen, already quite intoxicated, tried to drive into town to buy nutmeg to put in the second batch of wassail punch, but almost immediately steered his car into the hedgerow, so he returned on foot without the nutmeg and with a lot of foliage in his hair, begging for painkillers, which prompted pompous Henrik to give him a lecture on the inadvisability of mixing analgesics with alcohol - counsel Henrik soon suspected was unwelcome, because he heard Owen's wife called him a "Dutch uncle" and he knew that couldn't be good since he was already familiar with "Dutch courage" meaning alcohol-induced recklessness, and a "Dutch wife" being slang for a prostitute, as well as "Dutch treat" requiring a guest to pay for his own dinner.
I brought Emmeline, my fourth cousin (or "cater cousin", as we used to call it in the hill country) to the company Christmas party and having her with me greatly increased my mana: I could see that several people who had disregarded me before were now looking at me with admiration and respect, the only untoward consequence of which was that I bought more rounds of drinks that night than was financially prudent and ended up having to put groceries on my credit card for the next two weeks, an anxious and burdensome state of affairs for someone of already slender means.
Reviewing the acta of the Office of Public Housing was stupefyingly boring for the first several hours, but then the fledgling CPA realized something that snapped her wide awake in mid-yawn: the avuncular, hail-fellow-well-met, perennially good-humored Director had apparently "donated" almost a million dollars in federal funds to a handful of extreme right-wing hate groups and she, Alison W. Gershon, was the first to find out, so it looked as if kismet had marked her for promotion and awards after all.
On Saturday night, when the emergency room was teeming with victims of gunshot and stab wounds, a young man was brought in by his father with what turned out to be a thrombosis in the sigmoid sinus (a curved trough in the brain behind the ear) which the father said was the result of a fall down some stairs, but Dr. Celia Wilkins had been cozened by parents before and suspected that the father had left out the part where he struck the boy on the side of the head with a stone or something similar, and she began to experience the familiar, unpleasant gastro-intestinal symptoms of fear - a leaden feeling in her stomach and strong peristaltic waves lower down - especially when she glimpsed a large handgun tucked into the father's waistband.
Everyone assumed the play's producer was Harry's uncle or godfather or even half-brother, because only shameless nepotism could have gotten him the role of the Tutor, fossicking all over the stage, looking for the golden location that would show off his noble brow to the best advantage, once ending up on the proscenium (another two steps and he would have toppled into the orchestra pit!), leaving the rest of the cast with the unflattering dorsal view of his over-the-hill and sagging person.
"Little Kids' Krazy Bubbles w/Magic Wand" was the first item on the scavenger hunt list and Becky's little sister had one already, so they were off to a fine, quick start, but then later on Greg dropped the bubble wand into the lobster tank at the fishmonger's (where they had gone to borrow item #8, a flexible boning knife), so half the team had to spend an hour fossicking around town trying to track down another wand because Greg was too chicken to reach into the lobster tank, while the other half formed an impromptu caucus at Taco Bell (item #14, a taco salad bowl shell) to replace Greg with Becky as team leader.
So, oh my god, when Mr. Jesperson saw my spelling test, he kind of ran amok, you know, like screaming and gowling and he threw a book at Joanie, which I don't know why he did that, except she was, like, praying or something, I mean, not out loud, but her eyes were closed and her lips were moving and she had her hands, you know, pressed together, so he like yelled at her, "Stop your stupid mussitating!" and threw some book which just hit the pencil sharpener not Joanie and then Security came and he was shouting at them about me being heterographical which what is that? like being heterosexual only with graphs? but I mean he is SO gay, so I guess it bothers him but I don't understand what it has to do with spelling!
Mona thought maybe the name of the new restaurant, Samizdat, meant "Saturday" in Turkish or something, which she thought was clever and edgy, so she and her self-consciously dressed-up girlfriends minced down the steps and through the door, only to be mystified by the spectacle of an old printing press and a couple of stacks of banned books where the tables and chairs should have been, which made them stand with their mouths agape like baby birds waiting to be fed, but then Mona had one of those moments of twenty-something satori for which she was justly renowned and said, "Oh! It's not a restaurant!", so they all tittupped out again and had lunch at Denny's instead.
William described Mike to his wife as a "passive raconteur": one only had to look at him - his mournful expression, his unhealthy skin, and the lucifugous way he flinched if ever the bartender turned on an extra light - and the sad stories came flooding into one's mind of their own accord, all of them involving alcohol and various euphemisms for "drunk", from "slightly over-served" to "poleaxed".
When Fr. Macharios's attempts failed to parlay speed and maneuverability into redemption, he broke off his attack on the gondola of the pirate blimp and headed home in his tiny, mosquito-like ornithopter to the Island of Naxos, turning his attention to the embarrassment that awaited him, the Archbishop having threatened him, through clenched teeth, with excommunication (and its attendant confiscation of his priestly status) if he failed to bring back the icon he had impulsively sold to Black Dardo to augment his meager stipend.
Larry "Fatwa" Henderson rubbed his damp, pimply hands together in anticipation of raining on the parade of grammatical outrages unselfconsciously committed by his assistant, so he left his office and waddled plumply down the hall to her desk to unburden himself of his latest list of the proscriptions that had earned him his nickname (and did so with all the considerable bombast and condescending rigmarole at his command).
The Aeon Makaria, most cheerful of the Emanations of God, was having a very good day, even for her, of the kind where she found everything deeply satisfying in a way that made her laugh aloud, and it was in this state of ridibund contentation that she encountered the aftermath of a duel between Crassus and Deldo (both of them bleeding profusely from brisket to tenderloin) and changed the course of the Battle of Basternae by laughing at them.
Her sisters' girls were all grown up and graceful, but Anne was still such a hobbledehoy, thought the countess querulously, as she watched her daughter in the distance, struggling cheerfully through the boscage at the edge of the meadow - leaves and twigs catching in her hair and clothes, rents in her stockings - and looked forward irritably to haggling with her over changing her clothes for tea with Great Aunt Catherine and having to listen to her flippant and disrespectful comments about Uncle Andrew's toupee collection.
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