The Meathead

Although it’s not January 6th yet, I’ve had an epiphany.

You see, I got to enjoy a revelation this past Christmas week.

It was not a star, a star, shining in the night that drew my focus.

There was no Baby Haysoos in a pile of hay what got my attention.

It was not the fact that the best sales stampedes commence at 6 a.m. on December 26th that made me lurch out of my prone position.

Rather, my eye-opener, my spine-tingler, sprang from a spontaneous moment of generosity out of one of my neighbors. The giver? Generally, he’s an asshat of a wankiedoodle.

In the three years that we’ve lived next door to The Wank, he’s never held a conversation with me about anything but himself. I know his high school hockey team’s winning record (25 years ago); I know where he buys his cars and why they are superior to all other vehicles; I know that he treated himself to a Rush concert for his birthday this year. About me, in return, he knows two things: my name is Jocelyn (in his brain, “Jawsslin”) and—more importantly—I live next door to him.

I would expect such constant self-absorption from someone who’s younger. But he’s 42. I would expect an inability to give and take from a confirmed bachelor, from someone who’s lived alone for three decades, someone who eats his tv dinners with his best friends, the cast of HEROES. But he’s married with two young kids.

However, despite being surrounded by people who need him, he’s engineered his life so that he remains the Star of His Own Stage and Screen. He doesn’t so much talk to his wife or, you know, really look at her. He’s never helped bathe the kids or put them to bed. How could he fit those activities in when there’s guitar playing to be done out on the back deck and when there’s woodworking to be done in the garage?

Wank has mad avoidance skillz.

Annoyed with his character as I am, I generally do the gradual backwards-easing-foxtrot-of-‘I-think-I-hear-one-of-my-children-losing-a-finger-and-thus-must-dash-now’ when he tries to engage in random Wank dialogue about the color he’s going to paint the trim on his house or how he’s been using a new hair-growth-stimulant to fight off the balding.

But he got me the other day. And I was revelated. Epiphanized.

No, he didn’t suddenly prove to be a man of depth and intuition. He’s no Charlie Rose. He’s no Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s no John Stewart.

Not that I have an obsessive crush on any of these uniquely-gifted and strangely-attractive warlocks of lust. Their names randomly—completely without forethought–popped into my noggin. It has nothing to do with the precise intelligence and raw, animal magnetism that rage through their pulsing beings that make a girl weak from elbow to knee. So stop asking, ya big Nosey Nellie.

I was talking about Wank, you’ll remember, and he’s just a lummoxy dolt, not the leader of a talk show or a country or my heart.

Yet this douchebag swayed me in the palm of his hand, gently, for just a minute the other day. And I have to admit, his charm was completely raw and animal.

See, I was over at Wank’s house, chatting with his long-martyred wife, when he entered the living room. Somewhat apologetically, he asked, “Hey, so do you guys eat meat?”

Pretty sure this opener was his way of launching into a story about a bratwurst he had eaten one day during Open Lunch in middle school, I nodded warily. Hell, I eat meat like Amy Winehouse snurffles white powder and wanders around the streets in her bra in the middle of the night. Neither of us wants to be rehabbed for our little problem. Just give me a tender steak and a firm foundation garment, and take your mewling concern elsewhere. We’ll be fine, Amy and me. Just fine.

But Jerk Neighbor actually had a point:

“So I’m really good at bartering. I mean, once I got a cap put on this tooth right here [insert finger into incisor] for $20 after I gave a guy an adjustment,” Chiropractor Wank continued, paying no attention to my tightening body language. “And I just made a killer barter today: one of my clients paid me in half a cow. It’s really good beef, too; it’s grass fed, so it’s all tender and stuff. So, even though I shouldn’t be trying to pawn off meat on you guys, would you want some?”

I waited a beat. Then another. Waiting. Toe tapping. Waiting. Waiting for the price point he was going to assign to the beef in his basement—“and only seven dollars for a ribeye, but I’ll make it two for twelve for you guys.”

It turns out I was waiting for a number that never came.

Instead, Wank clarified, “You’d actually be doing me a big favor if you took some ‘cause I can’t get the freezer closed. You like a roast? I’ll run down and get you one. Just hang on.”

Snap it if he didn’t come back two minutes later toting a plastic grocery bag weighed down by not only a roast but also two T-bone steaks and a pound of hamburger.

Twittering, futzing, shaking, I crumpled to the floor in a faint of delight. Then I laid there for awhile, sopping the tears off my cheeks with my collar. After that, I mentally rewrote my will, making Wank the beneficiary of one of my great-grandmother’s landscape paintings. Next, I lifted up the skirt of their couch and noted all the toy remnants living under there; they had set up a makeshift village and elected Buzz Lightyear mayor.

Finally, I heaved myself up and, with trembling fingers, clutched at the Bag of Beef. I tossed out a few “Hosannahs on the Highest,” kowtowed a little bit, and muttered my thanks in five languages as I stepped out their front door and turned, ebulliently, to cartwheel and fa-la-la my way home through the snowbanks (never once releasing my grip on the Dead Cow of Profound Joy).

While beef is definitely my bag, Christmas never really has been. I don’t respond well to the pressures of expectation and tradition and ritual. Plus, in junior high, I really wanted Billy Joel’s Glass Houses album, and even though I put it on my Christmas list and hung that list on the fridge, I didn’t get it. In fact, I never really got anything off my list; I just got a bunch of clearance junk, the cost of which roughly equaled the price of Billy Joel’s Glass Houses album. Common sense says I should have stopped making lists and deadened childish hope, but instead I decided to start dreading Christmas.


Then, this year, with clouds parting and a ray of sunlight spearing down towards earth, Wank gave me the Bag of Beef.

It was the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten. It was unexpected. It was spontaneous. It suited me to a T (-bone). It was thoughtful. It was specific to who I am. It reminded me that people are always more than they seem.

His unanticipated, uncharacteristic gesture–completely bare of snowman wrapping paper and a big silver bow–managed to deck every single one of my complicated maze of halls.



By Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."


  1. he’d be so pleased to know he got the starring role in your post. *snicker*

    (sings) let there be beef on earth and let it begin with me…

    joy to the world the beef has come,
    let jocelyn receive her steak!

    o come all ye carnivores

    lo how a cow er mooing

    god rest ye merry wankadoodles

    and finally…

    we wish you a merry rib roast

  2. you and liv with your meat for x-mas…it must be the year for it! Enjoy it and may it make up for his wankisms in the future.

  3. What a wonderful story! It’s so good to know that wanks are sometimes redeemable, and also that the cow was grass-fed and therefore tender.

    You may have started a new Christmas tradition which will be retold forever just like The Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life.

    And I’m really sorry about the Billy Joel album. I didn’t get what I wanted either that year, but I can’t remember what it was.

  4. I inherited that album when my wife and I merged our record collections.

    Sorry you didn’t get it.

    the bag o beef is good too 🙂

  5. Ah, this tickled my T-Bone…er…funny bone! My husband is a chiropractor and the very odd time has been paid with such “currency”! I’m glad to report that said husband has not one other thing in common with your neighbour, though. He’d treat people free if they really needed it…The Modern Good Samaritan, if there ever was one.

    Hope this is the beginning of a trend for him! Who knows what might be next? A litter of puppies? 100 lb bag of potatoes?
    (We got tons of cat treats from a guy who works for Whiskas! But he also paid the $32 fee!))

  6. Nothing says “happy holidays” like a bag of beef! But I wonder, after this act of kindness (or was it just an act of desperation when the freezer wouldn’t close?)…will you listen more closely to his next tale regarding he own, celebrated life? LOL

  7. I dislike Christmas too. It’s. Just. Too. Much.

    But how heartening is this post? Love it.

    That bit about Miss Winehouse made me snort.

  8. Um. I think your Glass Houses album was mistakenly delivered to me 25 years ago.


    It was a really good album.

    Hope it’s really good beef. Such unexpected gifts are the best.

  9. “deadened childish hope” … I always had that too despite common sense.

    Cool beef story! hehe I think it is awesome when people surprise us.

  10. I love the fact that you can seamlessly include Rush, Netanyahu, the entire cast of Heroes and a freezer that won’t close, all in one Christmas-themed post. My hat is off to you, oh joyfully talented writer! A visit to your blog invariably leaves me with a smile on my face.

  11. Those unexpected gifts are the best, especially from someone who wouldn’t have appeared to have had a gernerous bone in his body. Great story. Except for the meat part, of course.

  12. Wankiedoodle? I love it.

    The cap barter is priceless. Oh my, what a laugh.

    Don’t forget to toss Poodle a slice of meat. Wait, is he still alive?


  13. “managed to deck every single one of my complicated maze of halls.”

    Now, see, that’s why I love reading your blog. The story itself is fantabulous, but it is served on a bed of tasty prose. Well done, again.
    Can we see pics of the poodle?

  14. Excellent post! I’ve been missing yours lately, and alway regret it. You had me hangin’ on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear what Wank could possibly have done that was charming! You painted him deftly. And I loved I lifted up the skirt of their couch and noted all the toy remnants living under there; they had set up a makeshift village and elected Buzz Lightyear mayor. It’s just all so good!

    Rabbit, rabbit, Happy New Year! (and I’m relieved that this is the end of the holiday season. Can’t help it)

  15. Happy New Year!
    May your days be beefy and bright.
    I can see how that Billy Joel thing could have soured you on Christmas. Have you considered kwanzaa?

  16. I just wet my pants. Since this is the first trip I’ve made to your blog I wasn’t prepared for how hysterical you are…nicely done.

  17. Wank sounds freakishly like my previously blogged about lab partner, Mr. Self Disclosure.
    Minus the stocking my freezer part, dammit.
    (Though, granted, he does tend to have a ready supply of dark chocolate)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *