Life in Progress: A weblog by Heidi Price

A Christmas shocker

Part one in a hair-raising series.....

For weeks, I've been a little nervous about Christmas. We are going to Rochester, N.Y. where I will meet his family for the first time.

My nerves were replaced by naked fear when, a few days after inviting me, he told me about a little game his family likes to play on Christmas Eve.

"It's called the shocking machine," he said.

Come again?

He explained that the shocking machine, invented by his grandfather, is a regular fixture at Christmas parties. Family members and their lucky guests form a circle holding hands with two of the people holding rods attached by wires to the aforementioned Yuletide Instrument of Torture. Then some lucky soul not included in the circle turns it on and the current flows from person to person through their hands. As each person drops out (or, as I imagined it, to the ground) the circle gets smaller and the current gets stronger. Drop. Shock. Drop. Shock. Drop. Shock.

Last Christmas party guest left standing wins. He said he had an aunt who didn't seem bothered by it at all and would just stand there, holding onto the rods, smiling as if she was getting a gentle massage.

"It's how we bond," he said.

The reporter in me wanted more information. I asked around.

"It's the most painful thing I have ever experienced," his son told me one night at dinner a few days before Christmas.

Still, I really wanted to make a good impression.

"I can't believe you are buying a new outfit to to go get electrocuted in Rochester," my friend, a Senior Level Administrator at a Bank (SLAB) told me when I called from the mall. "It's such a waste."

Despite his reservations, he suggested a black, pencil skirt, that hits just above the knees.

"It's what Madonna would wear," he said.

Armed with a new outfit, we set out for Rochester early on Christmas Eve morning.

Much more to come.....


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