Bullets, beads and CDs

A former neighbor of mine has a Lesbian Christmas Party every year and she invites a few current and past neighbors. If I happen to be in town, I go. It’s a catered party with fantastic food, lots of good drinks and a high energy, extremely competitive Yankee Swap.

A Yankee Swap is not a Midwestern thing, I’m pretty certain it’s of East Coast origin. The way my old neighbor does it is that everyone brings a wrapped gift of around $20-25 and places it under the tree. After everyone’s pretty sauced up, numbers are drawn out of a hat. Whoever gets #1 picks a gift, opens it, shows it around, and sits down. Then whoever has the highest number goes next. That person picks a gift, opens it, shows it around, and has the option of keeping the gift or switching it with the gift picked by person #1. It goes on down the line till you get back to #1, with each person picking a gift, opening it, showing it around and then deciding if they will keep their gift, or swap it for a gift that someone else has picked. At the end, #1 gets to swap whatever he or she has for any gift in the room.

Normally the Swap gets pretty out of hand. My neighbor plays MC, calling out what the gifts are, hustling people along, reminding people who has what, and generally getting folks riled up. So there’s some rowdiness. People hide things. There is generally a lot of hooting and laughing.

Customarily, certain gifts carry the party. One year it was a tool belt. Another year it was a waffle iron. Whoever has one of the prized gifts knows they won’t have it for long, because someone else will draw something boring and swap it for the coveted item and they will get left with the dud. If you have the Wonder Woman Snuggie but someone down the line unwraps some Tupperware, you can guess what you’re going to be left with.

This year, the swap starts. And it’s really really tame. Disappointingly so. No one is stealing anyone’s gift. There’s minimal competition. It’s not as crazy loud as it usually is.

So I think, ‘I need to do my part to get this party started.’ I pick a gift, open it, and it’s a couple pairs of fuzzy socks. All devious like, I think ‘I’m stealing that nice bottle of Kahlua over there.’ Never mind that my old neighbor has been announcing that particular gift bag as ‘bullets, beads and CDs’ — my eyes are on the Kahlua portion of it.

So I make a show of going across the room to change my boring gift for the Kahlua. ‘These socks are great! But I’m switching them for this!’

‘Ohhh! She’s going for the bullets, beads and CDs!’ shrieks my fairly tipsy former neighbor to some applause and cheering.

I take the gift bag and go back to my seat on the sofa to relish that nice bottle of Kahlua and see what else might be in there…. And…. Well….

As you might notice, it’s not Kahlua at all. It’s chili chocolate beer. And it’s not anything like the bullets or beads I might have imagined. It’s anal beads, a vibrating bullet and a Marvin Gaye CD so you can get your sexy on. Aha. So that’s why she kept saying ‘bullets, beads and CDs.’ I feel my face turning a bit red as I sit hoping maybe someone will eventually want to swap with me and thinking that from here on out I’ll be known as the kinky former neighbor….

So, the moral of the story, I suppose, is that things are never quite what you think they are.

So pay attention, or you may just end up with the anal beads!


About Shotgun Shack

INGO worker hailing from the crossroads of America, and so far from home in so many ways. I blog about life and the depths and ironies of INGO work. View all posts by Shotgun Shack

3 responses to “Bullets, beads and CDs

  • unsocial

    ROFL. I’m sure there is an aid worker lesson in there somewhere.

  • Sarah Davitt (@SarahJDavitt)

    Yes, it is a new england tradition, but you can culturally appropriate it if you want. Its cool.

    However, was the desired result, intended? Did the party get started? Is your work here in the field finished? Will you have to find a way to get the vibrator past customs?

    (and the cinderella? snap is precious!)

    • Shotgun Shack

      Ha, unfortunately the party remained fairly tame but good nonetheless. I was able to donate the beads — though I doubt most customs officials would have known what they were even if I had tried to cross borders with them! (Or perhaps that’s an assumption and I’m the only one who’s behind the times….)

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