Monday, December 22, 2008

Uncle Bull

My mother and grandmother made me call my Uncle Bull this evening and ask him to make BBQ for Christmas dinner. They said if either of them asked he'd say no just to spite them, but apparently he likes me more than anyone else in the family and will do whatever I ask. I had no idea. Perhaps this is because he and I have the same name, although he doesn't go by it and goes by Bull instead. I go by it. Maybe he likes me because I laugh at his jokes and eat his food and play with his cats. I don't know. In any event he told me he would make me some smoked meat.

I adore my Uncle Bull. He is exactly like my grandfather Poppop June, the one we're both named for (who went by June and not his actual name either. I'm the only one with this damned name who actually uses it). Poppop June died 11 years ago. He was a truck driver and had a produce stand for years. Uncle Bull paints trucks and is a grass roots political activist. He's been written up everywhere and has been on the national news and is semi-famous, at least around here. In Millpond, he's extremely famous. Now he's thinking about getting into politics, but I don't think he has the most pure past, so I shudder to think what could happen if he really ran. Also, he has a BBQ business - the Slap Your Eyeball Catering Company.

Uncle Bull's divorce was final last week and I only just found out his wife had left him. My first reaction was "thank heavens." No one liked his wife Debbie. Debbie was awful and I'm glad she's gone, although the marriage was quite brief. The last Christmas I was up here, I think in '04, they got engaged. It was incredibly romantic. Uncle Bull looks like Santa Claus, except without a beard, so every year for the past decade he's been Millpond's Santa. He wears a fake beard.

Now in addition to being Santa, a political activist, a truck painter and a meat smoker, Uncle Bull is also a cat rescuer. We are a cat family. Everyone in my family has cats and rescues cats and loves cats, so I come by my cat fanaticism honestly, but Uncle Bull has surpassed me, my mother, Aunt Kiki and even Memere Marie in the cat department. He can not resist a stray cat, and definitely not a pregnant stray cat so he always has kittens around. He usually has upwards of about 15 to 20 cats. Sometimes more. Rarely less. He names and adores and would live and die for every one of them.

Well, this one Christmas - the Christmas he got engaged to Debbie, he was asked to deliver some Christmas kittens, dressed as Santa Claus, to two poor little girls who wanted nothing more than kittens for Christmas. Uncle Bull checked out the family and then delivered the Christmas kittens on Christmas Eve dressed as Santa and the little girls learned that miracles really can happen on Christmas. I was deeply touched by this story. Debbie had to drive him and park down the road so the little girls wouldn't see the car. Uncle Bull even got up on their roof with a string of sleigh bells and tapped around up there like reindeer. He really played it up. Anyway, when he left and went back to the car, he told Debbie to get out that he wanted to show her something. Then, dressed as Santa, he got down on one knee, opened up the ring box and proposed. Now how romantic is that?

But that's not all.

We were all waiting back at his house for them and when they got home there were more surprises. Uncle Bull asked Debbie to go out in the garage and get a frozen goose out of the deep freeze because he wanted to show my mom what he'd shot the week before, but this was just a trick. When Debbie went back to the garage she found a brand new convertible just for her with a big, red bow on it.

Then we all celebrated. Debbie had known we were all coming over but she didn't know she was getting engaged or getting a car that night. She had cooked and Uncle Bull had cooked and Debbie had made the most fantastic dip I've ever had in my entire life. It was some kind of hot, spicy, melted cheese, shrimp dip kind of a deal that you dipped Fritos in. I just about ate the entire pot. This was the best dip I had ever had. I could not get enough of this dip. It was like licking God. I had to have the recipe.

"Debbie, this is the best dip I've ever had, could you please give me your recipe?" I asked.

"No," she replied, "I don't give out my recipes."

I was appalled. I thought to myself, how is this bitch going to get a diamond and a new car, not to mention my uncle, all on the same night and then act all uppity about her damned shrimp dip recipe? Fuck her.

I hate people who won't give out their recipes. Something is seriously wrong with people who keep recipes secret. There's no good reason for it and the only reason I can come up with is ego. She wouldn't want me to make her recipe and take credit for it, but Jeez, I live in Florida a thousand miles away for Pete's sakes. If I'd made it and someone asked me I'd certainly say the recipe came from my uncle's wife. But who cares? I guaran-damn-tee you that she did not make that recipe up. In fact, I am certain of it because after years of searching I found the recipe and it's right here on and is called Zippy Dip. So there. Now all y'all can make it. Except this recipe calls for canned shrimp which we all know is an absolute abomination. Use fresh cooked, deveined, chopped and chilled shrimp instead. Or better yet, chop up some lobster meat, then die and go to heaven. No, but for real. Make the dip. The jack hole who wrote the recipe calls it chili cheese, but they mean pepper jack.

So anyway, that whole thing made me not like Debbie as much as I wanted to. Then, later on when we were having our traditional Christmas Eve, french people Catholic dinner of seafood gratin Memere and Debbie got into it over some breadsticks. I don't remember exactly what could have happened here, but they got into an awful disagreement over breadsticks which neither ever got over. To this day they can't stand one another and it was all over breadsticks.

Now can you imagine a woman who has just gotten engaged and gotten a new car with a red bow on it being this rude over petty things to the family she is about to marry into? It was definitely a red flag.

I didn't even get to the Christmas sweaters. Debbie could have been the poster child for Ugly Christmas Sweaters. Really, I have to be truthful here. It wasn't just Christmas sweaters. Debbie had coordinated matching outfits for every holiday. She had Halloween, Valentines and St. Patrick's sweaters too. I think I saw a picture of her once in a Fourth of July shorts set, but mostly Debbie was famous for her large collection of Christmas sweaters (and vests). The woman looked like a walking Christmas tree. She even had sweaters with real lights on them and full scale ornaments hanging from the collar and sleeves. I don't know about you, but I just have a really hard time with garments that blink and/ or jingle. Her sweaters were a bit intense for my tastes and the thing is, she wasn't trying to be funny. She thought her Christmas sweaters were legitimate fashion statements. Her felt vest with velcro gingerbread men and small plaid pockets filled with real mini candy-canes was a piece of art.

Things went downhill pretty soon after the wedding. I don't know what happened, but what I heard is that she took off with some man from DC and moved to Northern Virginia, but felt bad so she decided to stay married to Uncle Bull so he could still get health insurance benefits from her work. They had to split up the cats. That must have been a mess. I bet that tore up Uncle Bull way more than his separation from Debbie. I wonder how they decided who got which ones.

I just remember that after Katrina, Uncle Bull went on a rescue mission to Mississippi and New Orleans and there was a news story about him and in the news story there he was, driving a tractor trailer with a cab full of cats in crates because he couldn't bear to be away from them and decided to bring them along, because the first thing any displaced hurricane victim wants to see is a man with a truck full of bottled water and screaming, peeing, terrified cats in cages. But that's the kind of man Uncle Bull is. The kind who'd take his cats along in a truck on a relief mission, and you just have to love him for it. I do. Debbie, apparently, didn't.

I think she was ungrateful. I also think he's better off without her.

Recently he started dating some new woman who decided that since she is religious that she wouldn't give up the goods for Uncle Bull until he got a real divorce. I don't know the new honey, but I kind of have to side with her. I wouldn't date a married, separated man who was staying with someone for health insurance either. Uncle Bull did the right thing though and went ahead and got his divorce. A week later he decided he didn't really want to date the new woman, so now he's single and only has half his cats. My cousin Beau (his son, the line man) moved back in with him and brought his girlfriend and to my knowledge they didn't bring any additional cats.

So now Uncle Bull is single again and tomorrow and the next day he's on Santa duty. When I called him he got all soft and sweet with me and said he'd love to make me some ribs and pork and he might even smoke some chicken too.

"I'll be over a little later because I gotta be Santa," he said.

"For kids?" my mom asked in the background.

"No," he said, "For grown women. I get 'em to sit on my lap and then I show 'em my candycane."

Because that's the kind of man he is.


Wide Lawns said...

Oops, I just realized I wrote something that sounds like a discrepancy. Earlier I wrote that Uncle Bull promised to make BBQ (he did), but then I wrote that I had to call to ask him to make BBQ.

Let me clarify.

I had to REMIND him to make the BBQ and I had to ask for specifically what KIND of BBQ'ed meat I wanted.

Ribs and pulled pork, if you were wondering.

Talula said...

I can't stand it when people don't share recipes either. I figure the joy of food is in sharing it. My Grandmother had a fantastic recipe for butter tarts, but she would never share. We found it after she died but can't seem to make it the right way. It kills me!

Not tellin' you my name ... said...

This made me naze my beer ... "and then I show 'em my candycane."

Next time someone won't share a recipe, just kick 'em.

KT said...

I have the same problem with a Christmas pastry that my grandma never gave out the real, complete recipe for and that my dad absolutely loves. Now it drives us all crazy every Christmas because my mother and I are on a mission to find out what exactly is wrong with the recipe we have, and my dad is forced to eat sub-standard pastry. Merry Christmas, indeed.

Christi Lee said...

Ooooh! I love you!

I am SO going to make that dip and I am going to put it on toasted sourdough. Yummy!

I have a pulled pork recipe that you can make in a crockpot, seriously. It is sooooooooo good on taco shells by its self and you can also just add bbq sauce and call it a day too!

Sixteen Chickens said...

"the first thing any displaced hurricane victim wants to see is a man with a truck full of bottled water and screaming, peeing, terrified cats in cages"

This made me laugh so hard all the jingle bells on my holiday sweater went off.

Anonymous said...

Love the zippy dip. Can I make a suggestion though? Add roasted green chiles (can you tell I'm from Texas?) to it. Anaheim or pablano will work equally as well. Amysuehere

booda baby said...

Dit and to on that non-sharing recipes thing. As a listless cooker (at best), I rarely ask for a recipe except as a kind of courtesy. Which makes the refusal to share even MORE weird.

Debbie will burn in some kind of hell. I hope. I know that's not a very 'tis the season' sentiment, but I mean it anyway.

Emily said...

Not sharing recipes? I can see if you're you're running around on the cooking competition circuit or something, but otherwise, that just seems silly. I've even been offered recipes by chefs at restaurants if I've asked (not that it ever tastes as good when I make it at home).

Uncle Bull sounds like someone I've love to hang around with.

Michelle said...

We could all use an Uncle Bull. You are very lucky!
Enjoy your Christmas BBQ!

NeekoalinAZ said...

"No," he said, "For grown women. I get 'em to sit on my lap and then I show 'em my candycane."

HAHAHA, I love Uncle Bull...he sounds just like my brother who refers to himself as Uncle Buck!

JoeinVegas said...

mmmmm, good pulled pork .. the one place here that made it went out of business. Ah well, that's what I get for living in the big city (but we do have Starbucks)

Laura said...

The jackhole who posted the Zippy Dip recipe also forgot the unit for the pepper jack -- 1/4 what? 1/4 pound? 1/4 cup?

Sinclair said...

Ok that's it... I had to stop at "Slap Your Eyeball Catering Company" out of fear of peeing in my pants... Where do you come up with that stuff?

But just like a junkie, I'm going back for more!!!

Ambitious Blonde said...

That dip sounds awesome! I might have to make a batch for the Christmas Eve gorging and gift exchange at my mom's tomorrow.

Also, Uncle Bull sounds like a one in a million guy. The fact that he took his kitties with him to do hurricane relief work makes me smile.

Anonymous said...

It's all your fault I braved a completely crazy grocery store a half hour before they closed for the ingredients to make that dip. It really is like licking God, especially when you substitute lump crab meat that's been broken up for the shrimp. Utterly sinful and delicious.

Andromanche said...

Dude. "Jackhole"? What the hell kind of cuss word is that? Does saying that count as swearing? Or is it like saying "darn" instead of "damn"? I like to consider myself a connesseur of swearing as only a seventeen-year-old can be (I've studiously memorized the contents of my local high school's bathroom walls, and I've been lying about my age on the internet since I was eight), but I think you guys have been holding out on me. Or maybe it's just Millpond?

Wonderland Chronicles said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you Wide Lawns, for commenting on my very first post! It really means a lot to me.


Anonymous said...

I think I love your uncle.

But I'm much too young for him I'd imagine.

Michelle said...

Thanks for stopping by and suggesting I try the zippy dip for my party. I am not a sea food fan but my husband is so I will give it a try!
Thanks again :)

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