Thursday, December 23, 2021

Chestnuts roasting

Yesterday, I shared a status on Facebook, just a little incident that amused me. I realised, though, that the story behind that status, while not exactly the most important one ever, showed a bit of what my life with Nigel was like.

What was behind that story is that when we drove from Paeroa to Hamilton (or back), we passed a chestnut orchard in the Gordonton area. One time as we passed the chestnut trees, Nigel started singing in a deliberately affected, lounge-lizzardy kind of voice, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/Jack frost nipping at your nose.” As he got to the second line, he’d reach over from the driver’s seat and go at my nose like someone does to a small child to “steal” their nose, and he did it in perfect timing with his rendition.

I have to admit, I thought it was kind of funny, especially the seated choreography. That is, I thought it was kind of funny for the first few times, but he kept doing it, mainly because he knew it annoyed me.

When I say I was “annoyed”, I mean that in the mildest possible sense: It’s not like I was ever angry or anything. The humour in it may have worn off for me, especially after having to defend my nose a few dozen times, but any family members riding with us always laughed, even if they’d already experienced many performances. Maybe they thought it was funny that he kept doing it, or maybe they enjoyed seeing him try to needle me. Maybe it was all that.

In any case, that’s all the encouragement Nigel needed to perform any time and any place we happened to be driving and he was reminded of chestnuts (he seldom ever sang it outside the car). It became something of a collective family memory.

His chestnut performance was just one of the ways he’d tease me, but the method was often the same: Keep doing some harmless fun merely because it annoyed me. Obviously we annoyed each other from time to time in ways that had absolutely nothing to do with joking—we were only human, after all. But we also loved to laugh and had a very similar sense of humour, which is the real reason I was never actually annoyed with him—at least, not about that sort of thing. He also liked to joke around about things that had nothing to do with trying to annoy me. Even so, I’m pretty sure that he enjoyed doing funny things that annoyed me more than anything.

So when I pushed my car’s start button yesterday and heard the violins swelling, I could tell what was coming even before Nat opened his mouth. And I laughed to myself, but I wasn’t annoyed. I really did say, out loud, “thanks, Nigel—thanks a lot.” In fact, I think that quite often, and I bet I always will. As the song says, Merry Christmas to you. Nose nipping is optional, though.