It seems like the holiday season is always the perfect recipe for awkward moments. Be it the coming together of people that may have not seen each other in awhile, the egg nog, the booze-infused holiday parties between co-workers and friends or the awkwardness of gift-giving, the season is ripe with opportunity. With that in mind—and with many of us coming off some awkward holiday moments of our own—I asked a handful of Portland musicians to share their awkward holiday memories. May these stories make you jolly and/or comfort you like a warm hot toddy.
Andrea K - Vice Device/DJ Linoleum
One of my brothers has a long history of being sent to his room or, now days, getting mad and having to leave family Christmas celebrations early. It always makes for an interesting time to say the least. My favorite of these incidents was when he had a suspended drivers license. For some reason he had my parents address on file with the DMV, so our mom was getting the notices about the reinstatement fees. Well, come Christmas Eve, he opens a box and inside finds one of the notices with a receipt of the fees having been paid in full. I had no idea what was going on at the time, so it was really special when he proceeded to throw the box down and yell at everyone about how it was a stupid gift and a waste of money that he could have used for "something better." He then stormed out of the room because he was done with Christmas...except then he had to come back and ask for a ride home.
Sarah Fennell - Lost Lander
Back in college I had this quirky boyfriend. He was super sweet, but we weren't meant to be. We met in the music program at PSU, became friends, then started dating.
He was from the east coast, so when Thanksgiving rolled around, I invited him to join me and my family. It was a little early to be introducing everyone to my brand new boyfriend, but I didn't want him to be alone. Amazingly, everybody got along great. We sat down to dinner and passed food around. Finally, with plates full, someone said grace and we started to dig in. As I ate my stuffing, I looked over at him. "What is he doing?" I asked myself. He was stirring his entire plate of food together in slow, methodical circles, until he had a giant pile of mush on his plate. This went on long enough that my whole family started staring. Someone made some sort of joke and we all tried to ignore the plate of mush and eat our own food. I was mortified and totally grossed out.
Needless to say, we didn't last long. We were destined to be friends.
The next time I got together with my whole family, it was Christmas. I dreaded the comments and the questions from my family. To my surprise, no one said much, or teased me and I got to relax. We all sat down to dinner, someone said grace and we were about to dig in. I looked up and my mother was pretending to swirl all her food around on her plate, (she who used to eat from a TV dinner plate to keep her food separate as a kid). Others saw her and started laughing. Suddenly, my entire family was mimicking the Thanksgiving move that is still talked about today. I love my family.
Andrew Nelson - DoublePlusGood
I accompanied a friend to her office holiday party, it was one of those "oh god I don't want to go by myself please come so I have someone to talk to" invitations. I agreed as I was assured that despite the stuffy vibe, and conservative crowd, there would be an open bar and good people watching. The open bar was enjoyed by everyone but especially by the business owners wife who seemed to think that Christmas was the season to get friendly with any guy 25 years her Jr. I'm awkward enough at parties, but continually asked by "Mrs. Claws" if she could "unwrap my package" made the night one of the more awkward holiday memories on my list.
Ben Hubbird - The Morals
I think my most awkward holiday memory would be two years ago, when I was supposed to play a show the same night as the CD Baby holiday party. Of course after three hours of drinking at an open bar, tended by the talented Mr. Aaron Hall (now of Dig A Pony fame), I was in no shape to do much of anything. Casey [Jarman, Hubbird's Morals bandmate and WW Music Editor] kicked me out of the band, oh, it must have been three separate times that night. Were you there?
Tuviya Edelhart - Valkyrie Rodeo
Every year my good friends Mae and Monte (from the band Rllrbll) have a resplendent Christmas Eve White Elephant party. This gathering has been going on for years and has become quite the phenomenon, with gifts ranging from bizarre musical instruments to illicit grab bags of varying substances. It is a culminating event for people from all over the country, who play all different kinds of music and are all bored enough to drive out to the flats to party. Last year was my first year and this is when I learned about The Fist. All night I kept hearing people say things like, "I hope someone brings back The Fist" or "If I find out who stole The Fist..!" This certainly piqued my curiosity. The night continued merrily as I visited with many friends I hadn't seen in a while, stole a mandolin from a man I had never met, and then while I was standing in the back I started to hear a chant. "FIST! FIST! FIST! FIST!" coming from the front room. I ran up and saw Mae standing in front of 40-odd people thrusting into the air a plaster fist mounted to a wooden board by two small pegs. Blood was seeping out between the fingers of the hand, which had 2-inch nails shooting out of three of its knuckles. The forearm, which had on some Batman-like body armor, had three 3+-inch knives sticking out the top. Everyone cheered and cheers-ed for what seemed like an eternity. The Fist had returned! I was completely swept up in the moment. "Long live The Fist!"
Header illustration by Darren Bridenbeck
All photos courtesy of artists except Sarah Fennell photo by BrightPixel Photography