Every Christmas, my sister Tanzi comes up to Someday for a visit. This year, she was on vacation from her teaching stint in Bali, so it was extra special to have her stay over on Christmas Eve and wake up with us to witness the kids'Christmas morning frenzy.
Whenever she visits during the holidays, invite D's brother Carman over for a night of junk food, booze and euchre. Carm and Tanzi get along well, and D and I don't get many opportunities to indulge our competitive natures, so it's something I look forward to: a little brotherly/sisterly fellowship, a little marital one-upmanship. It's also a perfect opportunity to make bets, win bragging rights and generally be obnoxious to whomever loses. This year, double or nothing took on a new meaning.
Carman dutifully arrived after chores on the chosen night, freshly showered and wearing a nice sweater, which I took as a discreet compliment to Tanzi and a possible indication that my usually reticent bro-in-law actually enjoyed getting together for our social evening. Then he slumped onto the couch and asked D what the score of the Leafs game was.
"Guys!" I protested. "We're supposed to be playing cards!"
"Yeah!" Tanzi chimed in. "You're supposed to be visiting with me! Hello - I'm going back to BALI, you know."
The brothers Lowry didn't even look at us when they answered in eerie unison, "After the game."
Nonplussed, my sister and I cracked open a bottle of champagne (one of our Christmas holiday traditions) and broke out the Yahtzee dice to bide our time until the hockey was over. The Leafs were ahead by a couple of goals, then by one goal, then tied, and the boys winced and groaned as their favourite team's chances of winning diminished.
"Wanna bet on the game?" Tanzi asked D during a commercial break. The score was 3/3. D swivelled in his chair and stared at her while Carm looked skeptical. "What?" Tanzi asked, all wide-eyed innocence. "Whoever wins has to buy the other person a really expensive bottle of wine."
"Hardly a fair bet" I mumbled as I rolled the Yahtzee dice. "Leafs suck."
"I heard that," said D. "Okay, you're on." He set his mouth in a grim line, and turned back to the TV where the Leafs proceeded to win the game in a shootout.
"Whoo hoo, did I just win?" yelled my sister. She had maybe drunk a little too much champagne.
After correcting Tanzi's perception, D strutted over to the kitchen table to begin our euchre tourney with more swagger than usual. Oh great, I thought. Now they'll be extra cocky if we lose. I tried to telegraph a "let's kick their asses!" message to my sister as Carman divided the deck but she wasn't paying attention. As the cards were dealt, D uncorked a bottle of the boys' famous apple cider. The sisters Feick would need liquid courage of our own to face the smug brothers Lowry at euchre, so I made dirty martinis.
Martinis are not a common occurrence at Someday, as D loathes olives and gin with equal fervour and I'm not much for hard liquor. I seem to only drink martinis when my sisters are around, probably a throwback to watching our mom and her friends drink them by the gallon. Mom, ever the good Russkie, would take a bottle of Stolichnaya out of the freezer, pour a slow glug into one of her antique glasses, toss in a curl of lemon peel and Nastrovia! The Martini of champions was born.
I'm more of a gin-based, dirty martini kinda girl, which means pouring equal parts gin and olive juice into a martini glass and chucking a handful of olives in at the end. My sister oohed appreciatively as I set our martinis on the table, while Carman and D recoiled in disgust. They couldn't understand why anyone would refuse a glass of their beautiful cider, much less drink a glass of alcohol mixed with salty brine. At any rate, our poisons of choice only served to fuel the flames of competition as the euchre tourney of 2014 got underway.
Tanzi and I quickly and unceremoniously lost the first game in a devastating 10-3 score.
"Gimme another martini," commanded my sister before turning to Carman and D. "Okay, boys. We let you have that one."
"That's two bottles of wine," said D with a smirk as he shuffled the cards.
Tanzi waved her hand as though D was an annoying fly instead of an annoying brother-in-law. "Whatever. Quit stalling and start dealing." D obliged and we proceeded to lose the next game, which called for more cider, another round of martinis and an even more daring bet by my reckless sister.
Stay tuned for the conclusion to this startling tale of pride and debauchery...