The Big Day

Preparations are underway for The Big Day. Yes, tomorrow is Oscar Day.

My tux has been cleaned and is laid out, and my wife has an evening gown ready. It’s a beautiful Gucci knockoff of the gown Charlize Theron wear when she won for ‘Monster’ in 2004. We’ve decorated the house front with floodlights that sweep back and forth, and put up an Oscar in the living room, by the fireplace. Six feet tall, it’s an old wooden one coated with gold leaf. The gold leaf is flaking so it looks a little shabby, but I prefer wood over the plastic or aluminum Oscars that you can buy nowadays. They just seem cheap.

Being traditionalists, we made our presents for one another, as established by our forebears when they celebrated the first Academy Awards, and we’ll wait for them to announce the Best Actress before opening them. Some families open their presents on Oscar Day Eve but we like waiting until the excitement of the show has begun. I know that some traditionalists frown on opening presents even that early, insisting on waiting until the Best Picture winner is announced, like our ancestors did, but we like getting it out of the way.

Living has mostly changed for Americans since the first Oscars. Back then, communities shared one fifteen inch black and white portable television among several households. Coat hangers cloaked with tin foil and bent at odd angles aided reception, but snow and static on the screen were constant threats to joyful viewing. We’ll be watching on a digital flat screen so big and clear this year that people’s noses are larger than our bodies, which can be a little frightening, especially after a few drinks. Back in the first years, the television owners would invite less fortunate neighbors in to watch the presentation. Refreshments and nibbles were provided for a small ‘hostess’ fee. We still abide by those rules.

Refreshments were typically the stuff of Hollywood, like white wine, champagne or martinis, while nibbles were classically Ritz crackers with Kraft Velveeta American cheese and Vienna sausages, with gherkins pickles and green olives stuffed with pimento on the side. Cheez Whiz later replaced the American cheese for some households. When children were permitted to watch in the early years, they were served lemonade. Later years found children drinking Kool-Aid instead of lemonade. Now, most households serve carbonated beverages to children and teetotalers.

Ho-hos and Twinkles were circulated as deserts in those early days but Oreos later made big inroads as an offering. Then Martha Stewart introduced Americans to Twinkles in Jello topped with Cool Whip, which became the new standard. That’s what we’ll be having. My sister always says that she hopes that Peep will makeOscar Peeps someday. I used to laugh at that, but they’ve really stretched their offerings. Peeps aren’t just chicks and bunnies on Easter these days.

Although betting on the Academy Awards is frowned upon, naturally I’ve set up a pool, just like my father and grandfather did. It’s not a big pot, but you can take twenty-five dollars if you call a major category, like Best Director or Actor. One hundred twenty-five clams are yours if you have the most correct predictions. That’s a lot of nickels.

Naturally we have drinking games to help keep the evening lively. Everyone drinks whenever someone makes a political joke or statement, cries, flubs their lines or trips on their way to or from the stage. Of course, we drink if music cuts off their acceptance speech or if a previous Oscar winner or highlights from another year are shown. We’re pretty drunk by the end, another reason to open the presents early in the ceremony.

Hope you all have a great Oscar Day. Remember, if Meryl Streep wins another Oscar, we’ll have three more months of winter.

That’s a fact, jack.

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