Crazy Aunt Helen: Holiday Giving

A few Halloween’s ago Stella and Coco were invited to a costume party with the theme “dress as what you used to want to be when you grew up”.  Stella’s earliest ambition was to be a rich lady, an occupation that would combine her twin passions of getting dressed up and lying around all day doing nothing.  For the party she donned a black silk dress, a series of scarves, mountains of costume jewelery and high heels.  She turned and faced the mirror.  Staring back at her was  a once-wealthy bag lady who, having lost all of her assets and most of her sanity wears all her valuables at once in a desperate effort to impress the gilded, twinkling elegance of her former self on passersby.
Through this form speaks the voice of Crazy Aunt Helen, avatar of the dwindled prosperity of generations past.
Now in an attempt to bring this voice to the public,  launches our advice column. “ASK AUNT HELEN”.
Dear Aunt Helen,

What should I get my new boyfriend’s parents for Christmas?

Des Moines, Iowa

Dear Undecided,
The holidays are such a special time of year and giving a present to someone you love as a symbol of appreciation or as an apology for a terrible, terrible public humiliation that you inflicted upon them is a beloved tradition.  Of course, there is no material possession that can say “I love you”, “You make my life wonderful”  or “I’m sorry I told the Episcopal Church Ladies’ Choir about the mulatto baby you gave birth to and then abandoned with the Hill People”, the way that a heartfelt hug or some genuine quality time can, but still, a gift is a lovely gesture and if chosen correctly, can ensure fond memories for years to come.

I once  bought  Ling Ling, my 90 year old nanny from Saigon, a tiny boat shaped-tin of real Darjeeling tea that had come over from India on the S.S. Amaryllis! She was so moved by the gift that she actually tried to dance but her poor, stumpy, bound  feet gave out and she collapsed, screaming, in a heap on the floor.

When I met Claude it was love at first sight.  He was a performer in the local theater troupe.   He danced like a gazelle, and looked like a young Rory Calhoun!   After his show one night I went backstage and told him how much I admired him.  He winked at me and immediately invited me back to his flat.  We stayed up all night drinking white wine spritzers, singing show tunes and talking about Clark Gable’s lips.   I just knew he was the one, but somehow, we never became intimate. Something kept holding him back.

The point is, never buy a man you love a new mattress, especially ifyou’re delivering it as a surprise. Because there you’ll be , standing at the top of stairs with a mattress strapped to your back, slack jawed as you watch your true love Claude engaging in some sort of nude wrestling match with his roommmate Trent on the bed he said they only shared because buying another mattress was too expensive.   Then you’ll shriek and run all the way home where you’ll refuse to come down to Christmas dinner, and subsist only on graham crackers and tonic water as you soak, sobbing hysterically, in the bathtub for four days until Ling Ling coaxes you out with a plate of chop suey and a glass of brandy.


Aunt Helen

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