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Eating Christmas: 'How To Crash A Multigenerational Rager'

By Katie Campbell, Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, December 23, 2020 - 1:13pm
Updated: Friday, December 25, 2020 - 1:23am

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tom and babs
Babs McDonald
Babs McDonald and her fella, Tom Cooper, are two halves of a colorful duo. McDonald described Cooper as her “perfectly matched goofball… my other half in fun.”

This month, we’ve brought “Eating Christmas” — a typically live storytelling event — to you in the comfort and safety of wherever you like to listen to KJZZ. So far, The Show has shared three original essays about the holidays and food, and today, we give you the finale.

And we have to be honest with you. This last essay is different from the others in a key way: It’s not about Christmas at all, and the food may be better suited for a basic social media influencer than it was for this writer.

Babs McDonald describes herself as a performing artist, dancer, tech worker bee, maker of joy and defiant optimist. And this is her essay.

'How To Crash A Multigenerational Rager' by Babs McDonald

'Twas about 2006 that I met my dream-fella Tom — my perfectly matched goofball — cupid painted blind and wide-eyed at the same time — my other half in fun. He always joined the dance parties I started or found. December came — he invited me to a house party on the 31st, I accepted without hesitance –we would have a ridiculously good time — our first New Year’s Eve weird dancing together — laughing!

babs and tom
Babs McDonald
Babs McDonald and her fella, Tom Cooper, aren’t especially familiar with feeling awkward.

That evening we donned our dayglo-silly-finery — I in a cookie-monster blue, full-length fur & 5-inch disco platforms - he in a neon pink fur. Both in tinfoil tiaras. He drove - I read the address on the little slip of paper — watched numbers on the houses flit by. The numbers ticked up to our destination — there — a party-store rental disco light behind a house flung pink and blue rays up into the trees and splashed them down into the street. The thumping bass buzzed the car windows.

11:20

We approached, moths to flame with a case of beer in hand. This would be the night of unbridled dancing laughter! Closer we could see the address — big, bold Times italic numbers affixed diagonally to the house. Two digits off. To the left was a quiet house with curtains drawn open to reveal a diorama of still-life adults all dressed in funerary black — some in suits — all with wine glasses — nary a tiara in sight. Its numbers matched.

It seemed incorrect — but in we went. Light jazz murmured. Small clusters of people sat engaged in quiet conversations. I felt a wash of an unfamiliar feeling: awkwardness. No one wanted the beer we brought.

My fella went off into a klatch of whispers. I planted myself in a chair next to the linen covered table festooned with horderves sprung to life from Instagram.
I wondered if the food was only for show, but hid behind bites — my gregariousness didn’t have a volume setting for jazz-backed discussions.

babs and tom
Babs McDonald
Babs McDonald and her fella, Tom Cooper, show off their unabashedly unique sense of style.

11:40

I ventured out to the back patio. Soundwaves climbed the fence — light waves came through the slats. I looked through the peephole.

Oh my stars! Teenagers ringed a fire-pit, far past them elders and toddlers, in between a packed garage dancefloor of all ages where a DJ mixed classic & new Hispanic songs to heavy bass. A siren’s call — I had no wax for my ears nor a blindfold to stop me seeing. Tom came out. I led his eye to the fence — whispered “fate demands us there”. He agreed.

I didn’t want to be rude to our host, but this was kismet. We grabbed our untouched beers & I told him “I have to go — something about a headache”. I said exactly that — not wanting to lie but the truth was too plain. He tried to stop us at the door — it was almost midnight.

11:45

How to crash a multi-generational rager? Silliness, sincerity and offering a case of beer seemed truest. There were 6 men playing billiards in the carport. They didn’t look immediately happy at the strangers in neon furs approaching in large slow cartoon footsteps. I waved a tiny hiya and said the party looked fun & we really wanted to just dance if that was cool. They nodded us past them laughing. We shared our beers.

11:50

We sidled up to the oil-stained garage dance-floor. We were both pulled into the action by our wrists, and began to dance, swirling around into the crowd — a kaleidoscope of bouncing heaven.

tom and babs
Babs McDonald
Babs McDonald dips with her fella, Tom Cooper.

At one turn I was facing a man likely in his late 80s. He stomped, left-shoulder dagger-sharp towards me clapping his hands. I met his gaze & matched his moves. His serious face grew into a grin. We danced in a tight circle, stomping & clapping, our left elbows inches from touching. The crowd began to form concentric circles around us dancing.

We spun faster, faster — the crazy heart of some living thing – could the center hold? All at once there were bursts of soft white blooms caressing our faces. The circle of women around us were pulsing silken handkerchiefs directly into our faces & making these cosmic whooot-whooot calls that were beyond sounds — elation-inducing throat-singing or zaggereets that turned everything psychedelic — we were the center of the universe. Tequila was spilled into our mouths as we spun even faster, stomped harder, awash in white pulses: ecstatic madness! Everyone screamed laughter. There were explosions. The dj stopped the music “Feliz Nuevo Año!” he called over the mic. The circles dispersed. People began kissing. I grabbed Tom and kissed him – we yelled our joy out laughing: Feliz Nuevo Año.

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