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A Naked Sunfish Holiday Tradition

Holiday Cheer from Aunt Edith

by Rick Brown

My late Uncle Wes lived with my Aunt Edith for most of his adult life...although I’m sure it seemed like an eternity to him. He worked for the Bethlehem Steel Company in Baltimore for thirty years until he retired. He worked the night shift getting off around 7 a.m. when he would come home for dinner. In the summer when it was warm...and Baltimore can get very, very humid...he would go to a movie matinee in an air conditioned theater and sleep. If you knew my Aunt Edith you would assume what I did...even as a child...and that was that Uncle Wes worked nights and went to matinees to get away from his wife. He never said much. He was a slight, wiry man of few words. And the few words he almost always uttered were, “For Chrissakes Edith! SHUDD UPP!!”

The man was almost incidental by nature. One time...after he retired and he and Aunt Edith moved back to the Cleveland area...my brothers and I were helping him put a refrigerator in a backyard shed because there was no room for it in the trailer they were moving into. After much jostling my brothers and I closed the shed door and thought we were finished. From her perch (as supervisor of course) Aunt Edith looked at the three of us with bewilderment and asked, “Where the HELL is Wes?” And after exchanging confused glances we heard muffled sounds coming from behind the fridge in the shed. “MMMPPPHH!!! Hey!! HHMMPPHHFFF!!!” We quickly opened the shed door, moved aside the refrigerator and liberated Uncle Wes. My brothers and I were all embarrassed and each, in turn, apologized profusely for our insensitive behavior. Aunt Edith broke into the humility with a shriek of, “What the HELL were you doing in there?” Which prompted Uncle Wes to ... once again ... chant his mantra. “For Chrissakes Edith!! SHUDD UPP!!” They were quite the loving couple. Their last name was Crabtree. I am not making this up.

Wes soon was diagnosed with lung cancer. Thirty years in the steel mills and 2 packs a day of Chesterfield non-filters caught up with him. The last time I saw him he was lying on the couch in their trailer smoking the aforementioned brand of cigarettes, quite literally coughing his lungs out ... or what was left of them. “I TOLD him to quit those goddamned things years ago. “ Aunt Edith offered for my contemplation. To which Uncle Wes replied sarcastically (yep, you guessed it) “Cough cough ... For Chrissakes HACK! HACK! Edith!!! SHUDD UPPP!!!” These were the final words I heard my uncle ever say and we all joked at the funeral that these very words were more than likely chiseled into his headstone.

A few years after Wes passed, my brother and his new wife were having their very first Christmas and invited everyone over...including Aunt Edith. My parents were there along with my siblings and their families. This included my brother Jim’s 9 year old adopted son Matt. Matt the Brat was what my father called him. I thought this surprisingly subtle for my Dad. If I knew where Matt is today...and thank God I do not ... I would have to guess some one killed him or he’s in jail convicted of several murders. I honestly don’t care so long as he’s nowhere near me. So Matt the Brat is playing with one of the toys some one so graciously gave him and he broke it. This kid could break anything he got his hands on. But in a moment of diplomacy my father (affectionately known as Snook) said, “They don’t make anything any good any more!!” To which...in the spirit of the season Aunt Edith quipped, “You’re right Snook!! Everything IS SHIT!!!” Wel l... happy holidays to you too Aunt Edith. Inside my head I distinctly heard a voice from my past reply, “For Chrissakes Edith!! SHUDD UPPP!”

You know...there are lots of reasons to go through life believing that “everything is shit.” There are days when it certainly seems true to me. I have my days when Sartre’s “Hell is other people” could easily be the thought of the day. But...unlike Aunt Edith...I don’t want to spend a big chunk of my life living alone in a trailer. And when I think of this particular Christmas it strikes me how most of them blur into each other...with the exception of a few. And this is one of them I distinctly remember. As much as family...and sometimes even friends ... can annoy a person ... especially at this time of year ... I have come to realize that even some one like Aunt Edith helped make me who I have become. I mean that in a positive way. Imagine ... Aunt Edith’s negativity was so over the top it MADE me consider the positive. I have no idea how she became so bitter. My father did shortly before he died also. Yet they both, particularly Snook, had a positive influence. They were there. Unlike today when some people are not.

This holiday season...regardless of which one you celebrate...take the time to savor those around you...even if they drive you nuts. They may not...for whatever reason...be there next year. And in some strange way, which will surprise you, their absence will make you miss them. I guarantee it. (a possible exception to this uplifting message might be Matt the Brat) And you might consider that next year YOU might not be here. So I suppose my holiday message may seem bittersweet to most...but that’s how I see it. And if anyone feels the need to take issue with my views then I encourage you to speak up LOUDLY...’cause I’ve got one thing and one thing only to say to you.



Editor’s note: Aunt Edith died a few years ago. She was 90 years old. Her neighbor called my Uncle Bruce and told him she had passed out in her trailer. He went and got her up…asked if she was alright and she said she was. He suggested she go to the hospital to make sure everything was okay. She told him to go to hell and get out of her house. He did just that…returning an hour later and she was gone. Sad…surely. But she lived her last day the way she lived every previous one. And despite her surliness I will miss my Aunt Edith this Christmas. And I will remember the one long ago when she informed us “Everything is shit!” Rest in peace Aunt Edith. I can picture Jesus turning to her and proclaiming, “Truly, truly I say unto you…For Wes’s sake Edith…SHUDD UPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


Hmmm # 17

by Rick Browm

I’ve never heard someone say
“Today is the first day
of the rest of your life.”
at a funeral.
my optimistic friends
know when to keep
their mouths shut.

Hmmm # 18

by Rick Browm

It’s said,
“Nothing lasts forever”.
But if forever
is not forever
what is it?

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Rick's book, Best Bites is available at:

Morris Jackson

Best Wishes
C. Mehrl Bennett

C Mehrl Bennett's book "This is Visual Poetry" is available at:
This is visual poetry


Traveler at the Minneapolis Airport
Amy McCrory


by Sue Lense

Click Here

Holiday Hoopla XIX

Shadowbox Live
Easton Town Center
Columbus, Ohio

by Rick Brown

Raconteur Theater Company
Club Diversity
Columbus, Ohio

by Rick Brown


by Dennis Toth

One Christmas Eve
When Santa got too merry,
He fell off the pogo stick
(or so we were told).

Strange holiday, indeed.
Like snowflakes melting
Into streaks across
A muddy street.

Grandma died at
The Five and Dime
While next in line
For lay-away.

Sweet smells of almond cookies
and pungent whiffs of pine

Andy died in a fire
On New Year's Day
(smoke hung thick
in the frosty air.)

Pretty papers, pretty lights,
All shimmering in the night.

Grandpa died around
Black Friday
(which is why I never
understood the phrase.)

Silent nights
So holy bright
(if only the drummer boys
would be quiet.)

Strange holiday, indeed.
Like the slick and icy hue
Of snow bathed red against
The sun on Winter's eve.

Visit Dennis' Blog at:

The Non Fiction Theater of the Truly Mundane

proudly presents:

Senior Excursion III

by Rick Browm

Scene: The interior of a small mini bus. Eleven senior citizens, predominantly ladies and a couple men, sit chattering away. Rick (the driver) sits alone in the driver’s seat, hands on the steering wheel. They are on a lunch outing to an historic, old restaurant outside the city.

Senior Lady # 1 - We’ll be back before 4 won’t we? I don’t want to miss the ballgame. Damned Yankees. Rangers gotta beat the damned Yankees!
Senior Lady # 2 - But bingo is at 4. Aren’t you going to bingo?
Senior Lady # 1 - I told you I’m watching the BALLGAME!
Senior Lady # 3 - I might get the Rueben. You guys getting the Rueben?
Senior Lady # 4 - I might.
Senior Lady # 5 - Doesn’t the river look beautiful this time of year? And there are some fishermen!
Senior Lady # 1 - I wouldn’t eat anything that came out of that river!
Senior Lady # 6 - I might get the Rueben too.
Senior Lady # 7 - What a pleasant little town!
Senior Lady # 1 - Where is everybody? Remember when people used to walk around? Nobody walks around anymore!
Senior Lady # 3 – Yeah! Nobody walks around anymore.
Senior Lady # 1 – Nobody!

Everyone is quiet for a brief moment.

Senior Lady # 7 (to Senior Lady # 1) – Did you take your walk this morning?
Senior Lady # 1 – No. I did go down for coffee though.
Senior Lady # 7 – So, how was the coffee today?
Senior Lady # 1 – I didn’t drink any.
Senior Lady # 2 – I’m still surprised you’re not going to bingo.
Senior Lady # 1 – I told you I’m watching the GAME!

There are a few more moments of silence.

Senior Lady # 8 - You know…Christmas will be here before ya know it!
Senior Lady # 9 – Christmas doesn’t mean anything any more.
Senior Lady # 1 – Nothin’!
Senior Lady # 4 – Just toys and food!
Senior Lady # 3 – Yep! Toys and food.

There is another short interlude.

Senior Lady # 1 (to Rick the driver) – You sure we’re getting back by 4?
Rick – Yes ma’am. We’ll be back in plenty of time.
Senior Lady # 2 – Bingo’s at 4.
Senior Lady # 1 – How many times do I have to tell you? I’m watching the ballgame! If you hear screaming coming from my apartment you know the Rangers are beating the damned Yankees! Yankees have won too much! It’s somebody else’s turn.

There is yet another moment of silence.

Senior Lady # 3 – I’m definitely getting the Rueben. You guys getting the Rueben?



Rick - himself
Senior Ladies # 1 - # 9 – themselves
Silent Senior Men 1 & 2 – themselves
Damned Yankees – The Damned Yankees
The Rueben - itself

© 2001-2010 NakedSunfish, All Rights Reserved

Issue 1 - January 2002