Around 12 years ago, my friend Kevin and I were working at night at a restaurant our friend Brandon managed. When the three of us were working, not a whole lot of work got done and the whole thing turned into an exercise we could have titled “How surly can a waiter be?” We had an absolute blast of course and gathered stories we tell and retell to one another to this day.
One night, I was talking to one of the women who worked in the restaurant. I believe her name was Tonya. She was pretty difficult to take most times and my conversations with her were always short. However, she knew Kevin, Brandon and I all lived on the same block and that we loved a good get together.
About two weeks before Christmas Tonya walked up to me and in her imperious way asked what the three of us had planned for Christmas. This was all an excuse so that she could tell me about all of the big events planned in the cul de sac hell she called home. I thought about it for a second and was determined that no middle-aged, suburban mom was going to show me up. I looked her square in the eye and told her that my friends and I were going to have a cookie exchange and to ratchet up the level of complication a few more notches, our cookie exchange was going to include a fashion show. Fuck you Tonya. She minced away in defeat and I walked over to Kevin and Brandon. “Look you two, we need to pull off a cookie exchange and a fashion show this weekend.”
They were game immediately and as the night wore on, our cookie exchange and fashion show took on incredible dimensions as we talked to more and more people. Oh man, by the time the cafe closed that night we’d commissioned designers months in advance and we’d been practice baking since October as we sought out the perfect cookie recipe. We were the envy of the restaurant and it felt good. Now we just had to pull off something.
I make a pretty mean chocolate chip cookie and Kevin and Brandon had specialties of their own. We hit the phones and started calling our friends. Within hours a new tradition was born. We decreed that the fashion part would be left open to interpretation.
A week later, around 12 men descended on Kevin’s house. All were dressed in their Christmas best. The cookie part was an afterthought as we settled in to watch John Waters’ “Female Trouble.” The interpretations of “fashion” were hilarious. We ate my chocolate chippers, Brandon’s Florentines and Kevin’s bird’s nests. Jonathan showed up with a Rolo-pecan-pretzel combos that I still make every year. Needless to say we had a blast.
We kept up that event for years until time and life pulled us to other parts of the country. Our cookie exchanges remained the envy of every suburbanite we worked with. “Look at us,” they said. “We can get together at Christmas and have actual fun.”
And fun we had, oh man the fun we had. That instant tradition of a cookie exchange and fashion show put our Easters to shame. And let me tell you, our Easters were really something.