Friday, December 23, 2005

Pass the rolls

The Malcontent's Christmases aren't what they used to be. Our extended family has shrunk considerably, partly due to death and partly to avoidance.

There's my step-gradfather, Ralph, a dead ringer for the guy from the old Dunkin' Donuts commercials ("time to make the donuts.") Ralph wasn't big on subtlety, or honesty. He once worked for Jerry Falwell ("the Rev. Farwell," as he called him), who apparently had a bad habit of "goosing" Ralph whenever he bent over. Ralph claimed to have lunched with Colin Powell and Dan Quayle over the years, fairly impressive company for a glorified TV repairman.

He had two different stories for why the Playboy channel was included as part of his cable package: "I called that cable company and told them to take that filth off my television but they said it came with the basic cable." Or: "Rev. Farwell wants me to monitor that channel to see what kind of filth people are watching these days."


Ralph is a member of the hairy back club, so much so that my grandfather, on my dad's side, once astutely observed that, when shirtless, Ralph resembled "a burnt bale of cotton." We don't know much about his youth, save for his tales of racing boats on the Chesapeake River: "I was the prince of Baltee-more."

Ralph had considerable disdain for the South, bashing our collective intelligece when, for example, he couldn't locate a Mobil gas station: "Typical stupid Southerners." Hey, we asked for Mobil stations during Reconstruction, but the North was stingy.

I could write pages of Ralph stories, but here's a good capper. He claimed to have found a diet fueled by the following: a block of cheese, slathered in catsup and sprinkled with FiberCon, chased by a series of rum and Cokes.

***STAY TUNED for more family tales. Next, a closer look at my Aunt Babs, a retired forklift driver recently married for the fifth time. I can still recall her words of wisdom: "Wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first."

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