Monday, January 3, 2011

It's the Most Skankiest Time of the Year (2011 edition)

"So, how was your New Year's eve?" asked Betty Barnacle the Frog Killer, as we met up with her and my dad for lunch. It was a mere side trip for them, on their way as they were to the nearest casino.

"Oh, it was fun," I said, picking over a salad. "We spent the night at Pauline's, did our annual Skanky swap..."

"Skamp swap? What in the world is that?" asked my mom, as if she had never heard this before, which I'm sure sure she actually has.

I think that the idea itself is pretty clear. Actually, way back in the days when Yankee Swaps first became the rage, my mother and father held swaps every Christmas. That tradition died over time, but about a decade ago, Josie and I decided to take the concept and twist it just a bit. Originally, our "Skanky Swap" was supposed to be a giveaway for the ugliest, most obnoxious gift received for Christmas, but over time it became more than that, with people rummaging through yard sales and dusty attics to set aside the ugliest or most useless item encountered throughout the year, for proud presentation on New Year's eve.

Many a truly abysmal item has passed through this swap. Pictures painted in poop, stinky old sneakers, a New Year's cake made out of tampons and pads...and every year, my best bud Buns turns over whatever present she's received from her mother-in-law that year for Christmas--always some type of lighthouse decoration. "For some reason, she's gotten it into her head that I like lighthouses," according to Buns.

This year, she received as her gift not one, but ten ugly lighthouse Christmas ornaments. "REALLY went overboard," Buns said grimly.

My contribution: an ugly painting of Elvis I had received from Hunchback Mike while I was directing Fiddler on the Roof.

The funny thing is, though, that often times, amidst all the ugliness, a bit of kitshy beauty can sometimes make its way through, like a plant shoot poking its way up out of manure. For quite some time, for example, the group would pass around from year to year a really fun purple velvet lamp that everyone just had to have in their house. (Where did that go, I wonder? For some reason, I think Corb and I have it up in the attic...)

The winner this year: hands down, a ceramic cookie jar of a Carmen Miranda look-alike. I tell you, it's a real Chiquita banana! The minute we saw it, Corb and I shot each other a look: we knew we had to have it. Somehow, despite several tense rounds (and Andrew, Josie's fiance, trying to get it passed on to someone else at the last minute), we were able to snag it.

It's not occupying a special space in our apartment. We've decided to call her Maria Elana. Isn't she beautiful?

The swellest Skanky Swap gift of 2010...Maria Elana!

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