Christmastime 2008

Dear Fetid Fête-Frolickers,

As another year draws to a close here in beautiful downtown Bedrock it seems the city regresses further and further into the distant past. To say that this has been a banner year for our humble burg would be something between an understatement and a lie. On the bright side, old Harold and Mrs. Simms got back together again after a brush with divorce. The two lovebirds decided that after 136 years of marriage they shouldn’t let a flighty 27-year-old pole dancer stand between them — that plus the fact that the divorce attorneys stood to gain immeasurably more from the proceedings than either of the Simmses. There was apparently some divine providence in evidence in their reconciliation as on the very day the two renewed their vows the earth shook to the tune of 5.2 on the Richter scale. The quake caused little damage, but it did disconcert Jake Williams’ mule to the point of stampeding the chicken coop, costing Jake the expense of replacing two prize roosters and a half dozen fryers.

Despite the awkwardness of the situation, both Simmses wanted Rev. Peterson to hear their vows, Harold because he remained suspicious of the fact that Mrs. Simms had accepted the good reverend’s hospitality for the past two years, and Mrs. Simms because she still appears to have a soft spot in her bosom for him. But such was not to be as the reverend ran off to Bloomington right before the ceremony with a former altar boy and reportedly has started up an all-male parish there. Such behavior has sent Mrs. Simms into a state of apoplexy, though Harold seems somehow demoniacally pleased.

Deputy Waxman had his job cut out for him this summer when former President Bubba Clinton came to town to campaign on behalf of his wife. Being only the second U.S. President ever to visit Bedford, the crowds turned out in droves (far more than came to see Millard Fillmore back in the day), and it was all Waxman could do to maintain order. His task was made especially difficult after the father of one of the high-school girls, who’d asked to have her picture taken with the former Prez and was felt up in the process [that partís actually true], went berserk and in his rage threw dog manure all over several Hillary posters. But at least he made the evening news on Channel 87, along with dozens of other area residents who, when asked why they were willing to stand in line for four hours awaiting a tardy Bill Clinton, confessed that “American Idol” wasn’t going to be on till 8:00 anyway, and they had nothing else to do in the meantime ... that and the fact that they enjoyed the lemonade Mrs. Simms was handing out again while Harold brewed more in his '58 Chevy radiator.

Few things could match the melee that developed over gas prices late in the summer, however. Once gas topped $4.00 a gallon, the whole town seemed to have developed the vapors, as was evidenced when Hank Saddler had his entire Boy Scout troop tooling around town on Segways. A gayer sight one has ne’er beheld, but fortunately sanity (or as close to it as occurs in Bedford) returned with the drop in prices. It was a good thing too as the city street department was already talking strike in protest of having to clean all the ox droppings from the roads while gas-guzzlers sat idle in driveways.

The Craton clan has been largely unmoved by it all, which displeases old John greatly since he’s wanted to move for the last 23 years. John and Debbie have now officially joined the ranks of the elderly, however, since their youngest offspring, Stephen, graduated from high school this past May. Having gained both a secondary and romantic education this spring, he has taken work in web development with a company in Richmond, Virginia, where he now more or less resides and earns his keep. His choice of working with a company south of the Mason-Dixon has his dad convinced of his inevitable success. He hopes to earn enough to retire by the time he’s 20 and then plans to go to culinary school where he can learn myriad ways of baking all that dough.

Jonathan is finishing up his senior year in Japanese and Far-Eastern studies and has applied for a teaching position in Japan. Whether that will materialize will depend, we suppose, on how deeply the Japanese intelligence service investigates his family, but we’re hoping for the best. Who knows but whether he may decide to get involved in Japanese politics and run as the first American for prime minister ... he says it worked in Blazing Saddles.

Ben finally got away from his place of torment and found a boring but sane job with Hewlett-Packard in Lafayette. He also landed himself a new apartment but has had somewhat less luck landing a new woman. He remains on the prowl and is accepting applications from any and all interested (and, as he puts it, “hot”) parties.

Dr. Debbie has continued her work with the halt and maim and is finishing up her third and final year as chief of staff at the local hospital. She has exhausted most of her stress tolerances trying to nurse a merger between the town’s two hospitals, but despite the best efforts she and most of the medical community could put forth, there always seemed to be at least a few idiots who managed to throw flies into the ointment. While she did renew her contract here for one more year last October, it remains to be seen what kind of situation there may be here once the anthrax lab shuts down. She is hoping to be spotted soon by the Fox News Network as her local TV medical-advice show (titled, appropriately, “It’s Rarely Lupus”) eventually draws the attention of the big markets.

Old John continues decomposing, and he made a second trip to Holland this year for the premiere of another work. Dr. Wife went with him this time, ostensibly for support but more likely to keep check on him and to make sure he’d come back. Back they both did come, and they continue tripping the light fantastic together — though John has made one curious observation about that phenomenon: When Debbie and her friend decided to take up tap dancing, they told themselves that they either would have affairs or take tap dancing lessons; obviously they opted for dance. John notes, however, that he was never given a similar set of choices when it came to ballroom dance ... which is just as well, seeing as they celebrated 30 years of driving each other to distraction in June.

But until next time they wish one and all a wonderful holiday and prosperous 2009, along with the hope that when the next administration spreads the wealth around they will be the bread and not the jam.

John, Debbie, Ben, Jonathan & Stephen Craton

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