by Slo Mo
When Dog and I finally arrived home from last week's cross-country car odyssey, there were two things waiting here to greet us:
1) A huge credit card bill from Texaco, and
2) A cryptic message from our crazy neighbor, Joolz, asking if we'd like to host a pre-Christmas candle party.
And okay, call me dumb and throw me to the mimes, but when I heard "candle party" I thought Joolz meant we would show our true holiday spirit by dumping the traditional eggnog-and-fruitcake crap in favor of a beeswax-fueled, incense-burning, tres groovoire Happy Holiday Hookah Lounge for us and our friends.
That's what you'd think. Right? Right?!?!?
Wrong. I had NO idea that the "kandle-klatch" is a candle sale dressed up as a neighborhood get-together. Basically, the kandle-klatch is to this millennium what Tupperware parties were to the 1950s.
Of course, this information reached me when it was far too late to back out. Joolz, in her wisdom, had already phoned every female in the neighborhood and told them they were invited. Why just the females? Because, like Tupperware parties, the kandle-klatch is FSHO - Frustrated Suburban Housewives Only. No boys allowed.
(Did I mention I get hives whenever there's too much estrogen in the air?)
So no, there would be no hookah lounge Chez Dog this holiday season. Just a living room full of all the local Stepford Wives I've come to know and loathe, nibbling gingerbread cookies and sipping ice wine while comparing each other's diamonds and lustily pawing at the candle samples as if a few lumps of wax could possibly replace what was missing in their lives since they'd sold out their identities and self-esteem for 2.2 kids and a minivan.
My fears were not abated when, two days before the dreaded party, I received this lovely note from one Kandace Krimmel:
I am overjoyed that you have agreed to open your humble little abode this holiday season to host a Kris Kringle Kandle-Klatch. As your official Kandle-Klatch Konsultant I will do everything in my power to make this a memorable evening for you and your guests. In the meantime, I'll be phoning you with some suggestions on how you can ensure I make tons of sales at your party and get a huge commission out of this.
(Wow, eh? Kandace Krimmel The Kris Kringle Konsultant's Kandle-Klatch. I'm pretty sure there's a dirty limerick in there somewhere...)
When Kandace phoned me, her tips boiled down to two things: a festive atmosphere, and booze booze BOOZE! Or, as she put it, "A slap-happy guest is a slap-happy buyer, dear." So Dog and I began the preparations. (Joolz, of course, had conveniently dropped from my radar, which meant I couldn't stick her with any of the chores. Or kick her ass.)
The bad news was, we were flat broke. The good news was, we already had everything we needed right at our fingertips. Well... okay, my cousin had everything we needed, and even though I didn't expressly call Kat and ask if I could use her stuff, I was sure she wouldn't object. After all, we're talking about the chick who watches Touched By An Angel. A Kris Kringle Kandle-Klatch would be right up her alley.
First, Dog and I set the theme for the evening with tons and tons of candles. These weren't hard to find - Kat has this thing about aromatherapy, and her house is chock full of stinky combustibles. So when we placed all the candles in the living room, the place got pretty fragrant, pretty fast. But hey, at least it covered up that pesky, lingering odor from when Dog barfed up a half-digested rodent!
Next, I used this auspicious occasion as the perfect excuse to break into Kat's treasured wine collection, which I've been dying to do ever since I moved in here. If a kandle-klatch doesn't call for the best vintage, and lots of it, then I sure don't know what does.
Last, we dug out Kat's holiday decorations from the crawl space in the attic. And okay, I'm sorry but I CANNOT let this go without comment: for someone who makes such a big deal about being half-Jewish, Kat sure owns an awful lot of pagan junk. Mistletoe, holly, tinsel, yule logs, stockings, colored lights, wreaths, gold and silver bows, even an artificial Christmas tree. Jeez! All these winter solstice symbols and not a dreidl in sight! Tsk, tsk...
Fortunately, Dog and I happen to like pagans. So when we were done decking the halls and stringing the lights and tying the bows and tossing the tinsel and wrestling with that damn ten-foot tree, the place looked absolutely marvelous. Cluttered, but marvelous. As a matter of fact, our "humble little abode" sported the best Xmas display I'd ever seen. Kandace Krimmel could just kiss my ass.
After that, there was nothing left to do but strap Dog into his reindeer antlers, put on my Grinch earrings, pour the wine, light all the candles, and wait for the klatchers to arrive...
In retrospect, I should have known there'd be trouble when an hour had gone by and the living room was full of Stepford Wives, with no Kandace Krimmel in sight. No Joolz, either, which meant I didn't have anyone to warn me not to let Wendy Smugfetch sit next to Iva Bollock.
Apparently, Iva told the whole world that Wendy was caught seducing her teenage lawnboy, who is related by marriage to Shreva Appendorff, who was also at my kandle-klatch and causing problems of her own by refusing to believe that the candles in my living room were not the ones that would be on sale. Shreva kept hollering "SOLD!" and hording the ones she liked on her side of the coffee table, thus raising the ire of Clarissa Dowidge, who had just paid big bucks to have her feng shui adjusted and had announced that she resented the fact that Shreva was always stealing her decorating ideas. And no one was speaking to Maura Bushnell since she'd had that nervous breakdown and confessed to torching the golf course. Plus, at one point Iva leaned over and whispered to me that no one could believe Willow Willoughby had the nerve to show up and sit there under the mistletoe and pretend like she wasn't having a mid-life lesbian sex crisis with her yoga instructor. "But of course, Mo, when I say 'mid-life lesbian sex crisis' I mean it in the nicest possible way..."
So much for shiny, happy housewives, eh? I just kept smiling and poured more wine and prayed the alcohol would interact with their Prozac and mellow them all the hell out...
Two hours later, when Kandace finally arrived with the friggin' merchandise, my little kandle-klatch had devolved into this:
a) We'd gone through eight bottles of Kat's best zinfandel,
b) Clarissa was wearing Dog's reindeer antlers,
c) Dog was up on the kitchen counter eating my gingerbread house,
d) Shreva had "bought" all our candles and was now placing bids on the Xmas decorations,
e) Willow and I were trying to keep Wendy away from Iva,
f) Maura was off in the corner playing with matches, and
g) All of us were, without a doubt, irretrievably and irreversibly and irreparably shit-faced drunk.
So when Kandace at long last pulled up in her pink Kandlemobile and unpacked her super-precious Kris Kringle holiday collection and ordered everyone to gather round in a circle, I tried to insist that we should just forget it and call it a night.
And I'm pretty sure I told Dog to stop sniffing up Kandace's skirt.
And I know I tried to stop Kandace when she ordered everyone, minus Dog, to hold hands in "sisterly solidarity" and confess our worst candle experiences.
But I was too late.
Because she started with Willow, and all Willow managed to say was, "Well, um... Once some hot wax accidentally dripped-"
When Wendy suddenly let out a drunken snort and giggled, "Dripped onto your lesbian yoga instructor's naked body?"
WHOA! Holy verbal bitch slaps, Batman!
For a split second, everyone just froze. Everyone, that is, except Dog - who was still busily sniffing at something under Kandace's skirt. One second of silence and then, my friends, the kandle-klatch krap most certainly hit the fan.
Willow turned to Wendy and hissed, "Hey whore, at least I'm not so hard up I have to hit on teenage boys."
Wendy threatened Iva with one of my candlesticks. "I told you to keep your goddamn mouth shut about that!"
Iva lobbed her wine glass at Shreva and sputtered, "I wouldn't need to keep my mouth shut about anything if your horny grass-cutting nephew hadn't moved into the neighborhood! Of course, I do mean 'horny grass-cutting nephew' in the nicest possible way..."
Shreva pointed toward Kandace. "Well at least I don't show up two hours late and with feminine odor so bad the dogs won't leave my crotch alone!"
Kandace swatted Dog and yelled, "Leave my crotch out of this! My crotch is not the issue here!"
Which was when, of course, they all turned on me. "This is the worst kandle-klatch ever! Some of that wine was corked! Your decorations are tacky! You didn't even serve hors d'oeuvres! I can tell I won't make a lousy dime of commission off this disaster! And those cheap Grinch earrings make you look FAT! Of course, when I say 'fat' I mean it in the nicest possible way..."
And then, just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, they did: Dog finally re-emerged from under Kandace's skirt. And when he did, he was holding a wadded up piece of cloth, which was clearly monogrammed with the letters ELB. As in Ernest L. Bushnell...
"WHAT THE FUCK WAS MY HUSBAND'S HANKIE DOING UP YOUR SKIRT?!?!?!?"
I must admit, none of us tried very hard to stop Maura from torching all of Kandace's merchandise. And when the mistletoe stopped flying and the smoke had cleared, I don't know who was more pissed: Maura for having been cheated on, Kandace for losing her whole inventory, Dog for losing his prize hankie, or me for having wasted all that gorgeous wine on a bunch of backstabbing bitches and not even getting my hostess gift out of the deal because Maura had reduced it to a pile of ashes on my living room floor.
Which brings us to the million dollar question: why did a funky friend like Joolz sucker me into this whole kandle-klatch mess in the first place? Had she forgotten our pact to never, ever leave our beach bum life and go over to the dark side of suburbia?
It was the cash, silly! Cash and prizes. It seems that the kandle-klatch concept operates on a networking tier, so that simply for hooking me up with Kandace, Joolz received an incentive kickback without ever having to worry about hosting the damn thing herself, let alone show up for it. Yup. That little fink sold me out for $25 worth of kandle koupons and half a dozen peppermint scented votives.
Of course, when I say "little fink", I mean it in the nicest possible way...