Merry Christmas… 1965. If you think you might have read part of this story, within another story, in another paper, you’re probably right. Neither our Miss Murdo Girl, nor myself can remember, and we don’t feel like going back through the mountain of stories to find out. I promise you will learn something new. This is a Christmas story like none other.
I’m keeping my word. In my last paper, I mentioned I would write about our 1965 Christmas. We’re already back in school, and Billy is back in California, but the events are still fresh in my mind.
A couple of days before Christmas, Dad and I drove to Rapid City to pick Billy up from the airport. He was on a late flight, so I was pretty tired before we got home to Murdo. I rode in the back seat and Dad and Billy were in the front, so I couldn’t hear everything that was said, even though I really tried hard to. It had been a long time since I had seen Billy and I wanted to catch up on everything.
When Billy first thought about going to college, he wanted to be a teacher. He didn’t want to have a business like Dad, because he wanted to have a guaranteed paycheck, instead of worrying all the time about money coming in. (Dad is a plumbing and heating contractor, and Mom runs our Motel.) Dad says we should tell people our father is a ditch digger, and our mother is a chambermaid.
Mom wanted Billy to go to the Air force Academy in Colorado Springs, although I think she changed her mind later because she didn’t want him to go to war. I didn’t want him to go to the Academy, because I thought it might make him tougher and meaner. He might have come home and put me through some kind of torturous boot camp.
None of that matters anyway, because Billy doesn’t want to do any of that anymore. Between his Junior and Senior year of high school, my Uncle Chuck got Billy a job parking cars for the Dodgers at the Coliseum. He really liked California, and decided to go to college there. I think he likes parking cars so much, he might even want to climb the ladder in that field. Besides, I think he makes good tips like the waitresses at Cafe 16.
Billy has changed a lot since he left for College. When he came back to Murdo for his senior year, he looked different. His hair was longer and wavy. I had never seen my brother in anything but a butch haircut. Every time I smell butch wax, It reminds me of Billy.
This brings me to our first fight of the holidays. It has to do with smell. I really think he has gotten quite a bit nicer, but sometimes he drifts back to the old “mean” Billy.
We were really busy the next couple of days, and Billy wanted to see his friends too, so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time together at first. Then, the day before Christmas Eve, he started asking me what I had gotten everyone for Christmas. I was pretty proud because I had bought presents for Mom, Dad, Billy, and some chocolate covered cherries for Grandma and Grandpa. I used some money Mom gave me.
He said,”Did you get a big old laundry basket for Mom?” I bet she thinks of you every time she does a load of laundry.” It’s true that last year, I wanted Mom to have the biggest present under the tree, and I wanted it to be from me. The only thing I could think of that was cheap enough was a laundry basket. I wrapped it and everything. It took a whole roll of paper and tons of scotch tape.
I hadn’t planned on telling him what I got her this year, but what Billy said was making me mad so I said, “I got her a nice bottle of perfume.” I was surprised when he started laughing. He told me that perfume was even worse than a plastic basket.
I didn’t know why he was saying that, every woman likes perfume. Then he asked me how big the bottle was and how much did it cost? I asked him why, and I could not believe what he said.
“Unless it’s a very expensive kind, perfume is made with bobcat pee. That’s why sometimes it’s referred to as toilet water.” I almost wanted to go tell Mom how he was lying to me. On second thought, I wasn’t ready to tell her I got her perfume for Christmas. By the way, it was a pretty small bottle and it was inexpensive.
I thought of something right then. I told him to stay there and I would be back in a minute. I went and got the bottle of perfume, and finally found the ingredients in really small print. I didn’t see bobcat pee listed anywhere, so I marched into the living room and shoved it right in his face. I said, “This perfume is not made from bobcat pee.” He took the bottle and started looking it over. He said, “It sure is the same color as bobcat pee, oh, and look here, it has Diazlidinyl Urea in it.”
That sounded to me like it could be a fancy word for pee. I went and got one of the 12 dictionaries Billy got for graduation and looked it up.
Diazlidinyl Urea, also known as carbamide, is an organic compound that is essentially a waste product of digested protein that gets filtered through the kidneys and is expelled from the body through urine. However, the urea that is often found in cosmetics is made from animal urine. It should not be used by people who are allergic to ammonia.
Oh, good, I guess I’m supposed to feel better because Mom’s perfume is made from animal urine and not people pee. Now what was I going to do? I couldn’t exchange it for something else, because I got it at the Red Owl Store in Pierre, and I wouldn’t be back in Pierre before Christmas. Billy said I should go ahead and give it to her. He said she won’t smell like an animal lifted his leg on her or anything, because they put flowery things in there too to give it a good odor. I didn’t tell him that perfume has a scent not an odor. I didn’t care anymore.
Well, I just couldn’t give Mom perfume made out of pee. It’s one thing for her to think about me when she does the laundry. I sure didn’t want her to think of me when she dabbed animal pee behind her ears. I used the little bit of money I had left and bought her a box of chocolate covered cherries like I got for Grandma and Grandpa. Then I had a good idea. I borrowed a couple of dollars from Mom and got Billy some cologne. I’m saving the tie I got him for next year.