A friend is famous throughout the land for her Ugly Ornament Party. So festive is this party that even The Norwegian enjoyed it. On first go round, about ten years ago, I approached tentatively with an ornament I considered just a bit tacky so as not to hurt the feelings of other partygoers who may consider the choice attractive. No need. This group has ugly ornaments down to a science. From each year, a winner is crowned and that ornament goes on Girlfriend’s ugly ornament tree for all to view right there in her family room.
After the first go round of Santa with his penis out and a pomegranate spurting forth its seeds affectionately became “the placenta,” competition was fierce. So when Girlfriend called earlier this week saying she was having an ornament exchange, girls only, I said, woop-woop, she’s bringing back tradition.
Girlfriend went through a messy divorce and Ugly Ornament Party was something for which she got only partial custody. I applaud her getting back in the saddle so to speak. In that theme I venture forth in search of the tackiest ornament to be had. My heart swells when I ferret out a cow, wait no, a bull because he has horns. A bull head, wearing a hat with the horns poking through the top of the hat. And a mustache. And a blue mini bandana. Close your eyes. Can you see it? It’s a bull head, just the head, wearing a hat with the horns poking through, wearing a bandana sporting a mustache. My laugh in the store is abruptly stifled when the gentlemen next to me chooses the same ornament turns the Bull Head face toward me and says, “Cool.” There’s more. Bull Head comes with an extension–a holster with a tiny little rifle tucked inside.
Perfect. Surely this will take the prize. Bull Head will take his rightful place next to The Placenta. Part of the trick is to wrap the ornament so beautifully others can’t resist the packaging and thus are drawn to picking your ornament. A green with lighter green polka dot wrap with a kelly green, pink and blue striped wire ribbon with snowflakes spells super girly holiday trim and an irresistible tug to grab that ornament first.
Around seven-ish I head over to Girlfriend’s house with ornament, gift for said friend, vermouth and pimento stuffed olives in tow as she told me earlier in the day she was out. Ever the helpful one, I bring them along. If only I checked my email just once more before departure. Deep breath, big smile as I prance into her winter wonderland, five long rows of pearls laced about my neck signaling the holiday season has in fact begun. Not an inch of Girlfriend’s home is not slathered in Santas, reindeer, angels, bears, stockings, garlands and booze. This doll’s bar is always stocked and I dare say no friend has a higher tolerance, if you follow. Don’t worry, she’ll take this as the compliment it is intended. I guarantee she’s sitting at her computer laughing and beating her chest in pride.
I step in the door, smiles all around and it’s a group of chicks I’ve never seen before. Whaaa? Where is the ugly ornament crowd? Why do I not know these women? I know everyone! Did I hit the wrong night? No matter. I will shimmy over to my friend and find out what’s the deal doll? Oh, she decided to resurrect the ornament party with a group from her old job as they did this years ago, so meet so and so and this one and that one, all with some connection back to some company–it’s a big one. I know three people. No problem. I have the opportunity to make thirty new friends and have dinner. And a dirty martini straight up three olives. Or two. Or five. Earlier in the day, girlfriend asked if I would read the blog about my fuckface Christmas tree. I agreed but now a crowd of strangers hovers about me and I feel the need for liquid courage.
Inserting myself into one conversation, talk turns to ornaments and the exchange about to take place. As they describe various offerings from the past, a strange feeling creeps over me. Is it dread? When they make fun of the girl who brought the ugliest flamingo ever a few years ago and then ponder as to her absence, I realize my error. Searching high, searching low for my best girl, I corner her where she is outside smoking a cigarette. “I think I’ve made a mistake. Are the ornaments ugly or nice?” Her sly smile plays about her face. “Nice. Didn’t you get my email?”
“Crap,” say I. “I thought it was the ugly ornament party.” She busts out laughing. “No, this is nice, like really nice.” Evidently these chicks try to outdo each other every year. “It’s not funny,” I wail. “Okay, I will just watch. It’s okay. No problem.” My secret plan is when the time comes, I will grab my ghastly package, sneak out the back and duck through the side gate, no one the wiser. A few minutes later, girlfriend finds me in the kitchen. She is holding a bag with lovely tissue and a ribbon. “Go trade this one for yours.” Hostess lesson dolls, anticipate the fuck ups of your guests. Relief deeper than a dirty martini buzz fills me. I skitter to the tree, make sure I am not spied and make the trade. I put my ornament under the ugly ornament tree and continue merry making.
Dinner. More cocktails. Ornament exchange. More cocktails. Friends save each other in a pinch. Sometimes big. Sometimes small. For this, I owe sister girlfriend for life. Even in my drunkenness, it is plain to see had any of these ladies stumbled upon Bull Head, a hushed silence would have befallen the room; accusing stares would have encircled us all. Who could have done such a thing? What monster would bring something so very hideous to our affair? Girlfriend uses her turn to pick my clandestine replacement bag and she squeals as she opens it. Well played, well played. “Who brought that? Who brought that?” Girlfriend gives me full credit and when asked where I got it, I say “Where did we get that Girlfriend? Remember we were together when we got that one?” She smiles. She’s drunk too.
Exchange over. Face saved. Early morning workers disperse and the hard cores go outside to build a fire, at midnight. Silliness abounds and drunken girl love begins. A giant candle is placed right next to the fire and it takes all of us watching it melt for a while before we decide it’s a really pretty candle and we probably should move it away from the fire. Girlfriend asks me to read the blog aloud to this little group. We read. We laugh. I show my snapped fingernail and the consensus is we all hate our Christmas trees but more importantly that fuckface is the single best cuss word ever. It encompasses all one might have to say. There could be no more stinging assault and certainly my tree deserves the moniker.
Went home around two. Woke up at six which is my usual call and my body said, “Oh hell no.” Reawakened at 9:30 a little bleary eyed but grateful for new girlfriends, who today sitting at their desks will find out there was a girl who brought a bull head to their fancy ornament party. I’m still the winner. Brought home a gorgeous gold number for the tree, made some new friends and found out everyone else hates my fuckface tree as well. Advantage me.