In my family it is not the holiday season unless, at some point, you are on the floor crying after laughing so hard beer shot through your nose. Its our version of the family heirloom being hung on the tree to mark the beginning of the season.
Three years ago my father remarried. All four of us kids welcomed his new wife into the family. Mother passed away six years before and we loved seeing Dad in love again. Drinking and playing cards (for money) is what my family does for the holidays. My parents had four kids, partially, so there would always be enough people to play cards with. Having four of us meant we could easily pair up as partners for a game of pitch or skat.
My father's new wife is a pleasant woman. She is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and lacks the signature vermouth-dry humor that was programmed into our genes. Being a tad slow on the take, she is the last to get the joke (if she gets it at all). Being naive she often opens the door for our merciless brand of humor without realizing we are always on the rocks above the mesa ready to pounce.
It was Christmas eve and my father, his new wife, and his four kids (ages 19 to 30 at the time) were at the dining room table drinking and playing cards. Fierce competition trimmed with well-timed jokes and digs made it a familiar Christmas Eve. Somehow the subject of funneling and chugging beer came up (as it does for any normal family the day before Christ was born). The second oldest (Mr. Craftsman) boasted of his mad skilllz in chugging arena. Sister immediately interupted her older brother and pointed to the youngest son, "I bet you can't beat him".
There is nothing more entertaining for Sister than seeing two or three of her brothers engage in a caveman pissing contest. She relishes being the only rational sibling free from the testosterone shackles. I was familiar with Craftsman consuming talent but had no idea if this great family trait had been passed to the youngest child. My money was on Craftsman (yes, we all placed our bet on either Youngest or Craftsman... call it our version of tithing.)
The challenge was now on the table and a new Christmas tradition was born. Immediately I went to the fridge and got out two cans of High Life and plopped one in front of both Youngest and Craftsman ("Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum").
I clarified the rules and started the countdown. On "Three" they both opened a can and slamed tin to their face. What I saw can only be described as a holiday miracle. Craftsman showed all that his ten semesters in a frat did not go to waste. Within a second or two he was half-way to the finish line.
Youngest punched and crushed the can to the table.
Are you kidding me?
Mid-gulp, without removing the can from his lips, Craftsman turned to his little brother. He froze... the kid not only beat him, he just experienced the beer-chugging equivalent of being lapped.
Dad, Sister and I were all shocked and proud. The Youngest is all growns-ups.
"Get two more, that was bullshit" was all Craftsman could say. As the beer bitch in our little Passion Play, I ran to the fridge.
Two new cans in the ready, I clarified the rules and began the countdown again. On "Three".
Craftsman wasted no time. Can opened, can to mouth, chug. Youngest did not move. Once Craftsman was well on his way, Youngest finally opened his beer.
Gulp, SLAM, done.
Despite the cocky delayed start, Youngest decimated his older brother.
Sullen, Craftsman did not bother calling for another rematch.
It is one thing to open the door for one of us, it is another thing to knock out the entire wall so we cannot resist.
The new wife finally spoke, "Wow, Youngest, how can you just open your throat like that?"
Only Youngest was not stunned by the unbelievable set-up.
Without missing a beat, he turned (with an unfazed straight face) and informed his new step-mother on the holiest of holy nights, "Well, Mom, at school I suck a lot of dick..."
"Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, do you hear what I hear?"
...and to all a good night.