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A Naked Sunfish Holiday Tradition

Holiday Cheer from Aunt Edith

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!!”

Aunt Edith Photo

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!!!” Well... 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.



The Non Fiction Theater of the Truly Mundane
proudly presents:

Chatty Kathy

Rick Brown

Scene: Halle’s Department Store on Cleveland’s west side circa 1960. The Brown family is on a Christmas shopping excursion. Dad and his 3 boys … Ricky (age 9), Jimmy (8) and Donny (7) are patiently waiting for Mom and sister Kathy (age 5) at the candy counter near the store’s main entrance … center stage. Dad is clutching a bag.

Jimmy – that sure is a beautiful scarf we got Mom for Christmas!

Donny – SURE IS!! She’s gonna love it.

Dad – Yes boys. Whether she wears it like a scarf … or a babushka … she’ll look beautiful!

Donny – and don’t forget the hanky!

Jimmy (authoritatively) – it’s a matching HAND … KER … CHIEF … Donny!

Dad (chuckling) - now keep this a secret okay? We want it to be a surprise.

Ricky – Kathy’s gonna blab. She’s a big blabbermouth.

Dad – She’s young Ricky. But just in case … let’s tell her we got Mom a RADIO! Okay?

The boys nod their heads enthusiastically in agreement.

Dad - Ricky … you take Kathy aside and whisper to her that it’s a secret but we got Mom a radio for Christmas.

Ricky – OOOOOH - kay … but she’s gonna BLAB!

Dad – SHHH! Here they come.

Mom and Kathy enter stage right, stroll up to the candy counter and everyone exchanges greetings. Ricky discreetly pulls Kathy aside. He puts his hand up to her ear and whispers to her. Kathy immediately begins fidgeting.

Kathy – MOM! They gotcha somethin’ but I can’t tell ya WHAT it IS  ‘cause it’s a SECRET!

Mom – That’s okay Kathy. I like to be surprised. It’s Christmas.

Ricky, Jimmy and Donny – Be QUIET Kathy!

Kathy – It’s a SECRET … so I CAN’T TELL!

Mom – It’s okay Kathy.

Dad is stifling laughter.

Kathy (fidgeting uncontrollably) – It’s a SECRET! And I can’t TELL you ANY … THING … except … except … EXCEPT … that it SAYS … “You’ve been listening to KYW! K … Y … DUBBA YEEEEEEWWW !!”

Donny and Jimmy – JEEEEEEZ!!

Ricky – told ya.




Dad – himself
Mom – her “I like to be surprised” self
Ricky – his 9-year-old self
Jimmy – his 8-year-old self
Donny – his 7-year-old self
Kathy – her 5-year-old fidgeting blabbermouth self


Safety Notice

Christmas trees
can bite
like a thorny rose,
full of spite.
Hollies are most lovely
and deadly just the same.
Poinsettias will kill
the cat, they say.
The lights can spark
and blow
and tinsel can fly
up your nose.
For the holidays
are deadly, dear,
as you well know.

Dennis Toth



Rick's Books, Naked Sunfish Caviar
& Best Bites,
are available at:


Rick's book, Best Bites is available at:

Jimmy Mak's new book,
Daddies Shouldn't Breakdance,
is available at:
Amazon.com & CreateSpace.com

Elva Griffith's new book,
The Analysis of H Final,
is available at:


Shadowbox Live
The Worly Building
Columbus, Ohio

Rick Brown

Click Here for the Review

Holiday Hoopla 26

Shadowbox Live
The Worly Building
Columbus, Ohio

Rick Brown

Click Here for the Review

Sue Olcott

Click Here

Electronic Sign on Spring Street


Amy McCrory



aNna (Wellman) rybaT

Blog: http://www.annarybat.blogspot.com

The Power of One


Gabriel Guyer


The Non Fiction Theater of the Truly Mundane
proudly presents:

Rear Window

Rick Brown

Scene: The interior of a new, rented, Jeep Laredo … Grandpa Steven is at the wheel … driving north on Ohio State Route 3 to Great Gramma & Great Grandpa's 65th Anniversary party. Great Uncle Rick rides shotgun. Daddy Joel sits next to Great Grandson Solomon (his 8-year-old son) in the backseat.

VROOM!! ... the back window rolls down.

Solomon - how come the window won't go ALL THE WAY down?

Daddy Joel - back windows don't.


Grandpa Steven - can you roll that window BACK UP please?


Grandpa Steven (patiently yet a tad testy) – BEEE cause … the air conditioning is ON … and it’s loud … and windy …AAAAAAANNND

Great Uncle Rick (interrupting matter of fact - ly yet mildly sarcastic) - because 8-year-olds have been known to get sucked out of the car… stuck to a semi-truck … and end up wherever the truck happens to be going!

About a minute of silence …

VROOM!! ... the back window rolls up.


Grandpa Steven – his mostly patient, driving grandpa self
Daddy Joel – his very patient Daddy self
Great Grandson Solomon – his 8-year-old, pushing the boundaries, inquisitive self
Great Uncle Rick – his subtly sarcastic, matter of fact Great Uncle self
Rear Window – its half down or half up? VROOM – ing self

copyright notice
Issue 1 - January 2002