The next day we discovered that the biker had improved on our handiwork. He drilled a hole in the side of the skeleton’s mouth and stuck a cigarette in it. Then he attached a basketball pump to the bottom of the plastic figure. Upon lighting the cigarette, he used the pump to make the Skeleton “smoke” by drawing air down from the cherry fire and blowing smoke back out.
It turns out the bikers were a really cool couple and we became
friends. The guy is known as Big’un because of his size. His wife’s name is
Becky, and their daughter is Reesa. That night, Tim, Big’un, and I hid behind a low wall with the skeleton up on the wall, glowing and smoking. It was Christmas Eve, and the custom here in Jacksonville, Florida is for families to drive around and look at each other’s Christmas lights, as I suppose it is in many places. So, all these cars were driving slowly past the wall, looking at our smoking skeleton.
“Oh, my God!” a woman gasped.
“Daddy, what’s THAT?” a child whined timidly.
“That’s in bad taste!” a man barked.
Big’un, Tim, and I were drinking beer and laughing our asses off behind the wall. Our wives told us we were acting like children. As if there was
something wrong with that.
Now it’s an annual tradition and the number of conspirators has grown. Every Christmas Eve, when our friends and relatives adorn their lawns with snowmen, reindeer, candy canes, and manger scenes, my cohorts and I sneak into someone’s yard late at night and replace a traditional figure with the Christmas Skeleton (without a cigarette) We choose a different house each year and it has become a challenge to sneak into the yard late enough so as to not be caught.
Why do we do it? The official reason is to remind people of our mortality and that we are all the same inside. The unofficial reason: To freak them out. But after all, aren’t these reasons often one in the same?