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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Assignment: Engineer a Christmas Miracle

posted by on December 25 at 13:48 PM


Last week I received this email from a woman in Seattle:

Oh Public Intern,

While you are down at the UWMC, perhaps you would like to bring some holiday cheer to the infirm? My fiance woke up this morning after I left for work with a collapsed lung - also known as a spontaneous pneumothorax. Having experienced this once before, he threw some stuff in a bag, hopped on the trusty 65 and walked to the UWMC. Such a trooper.

In any case, now he’s awaiting surgery and then a chest tube for 2-3 days. Once it’s taken care of, it’s not that serious of a thing, and we should hopefully not be hanging out in the hospital Christmas Day direct. However, because of the chest tube and the nature of collapsed lungs, he can’t fly for two weeks, which effectively rules out his/our plan of going to North Carolina to see relatives, friends and experience the joy of southern cuisine. The trains are sold out, we don’t have a car, and a greyhound cross-country sort of seems like a different kind of hell.

I’m not sure what I’m asking:
Find a car for us to drive cross-country?
Convince Amtrak to let us sleep in the aisles?
Bring NC to us?
Something else?

Yours in Hospital Cafeteria food,


Dan suggested bringing Amy and her fiancée Brian (the one with the collapsed lung) a southern-cooked dinner on Christmas Eve, paid for by the Stranger. I asked the Slog community for help, and the response was overwhelming. Dozens of southerners living in Seattle wrote to me and told me they wanted to help cook. I realized after the eighteenth email that I had more cooks than I could possibly use. I randomly chose six Sloggers, told them about Amy and Brian, and asked them what dish they wanted to prepare.

On Sunday and Monday, the Sloggers dropped food at my house. Cleve brought delicious corn bread muffins, Rebecca made an incredibly moist turkey with an exotic hazelnut gravy, Brandon cooked a sweet pecan pie, Alex and her father made buttery mashed potatoes, Kim delivered with a massive (and delicious) sweet potato pie and red velvet cake, and Tiffany sautéed green beans with butter and garlic, and surprised me with ice-cold sweet tea.

The food did not fit in the fridge. I cleared off a space in the garage and left much of the food there overnight. Monday around 5pm I loaded the side-dishes into my trunk, rested the turkey platter on the passenger seat, and drove to Amy’s apartment. As I drove, the turkey slid around on the platter, veering perilously close to the edge of the seat. I softened my turns, and patted lightly on the brakes. I didn’t want to fuck this up.

I didn’t really surprise Amy and Brian; they already knew I was coming because I had to make sure they hadn’t already cooked a meal for themselves. But I would like to believe they were surprised by how much food had been donated. The turkey was ginormous, and so were all the deserts. We had to take three trips back and forth from the car to the house just to get it all into the kitchen.

Brian had recovered well from his lung operation. He was walking around, laughing, and cracking jokes when I first saw him. He wanted to help bring the food into the house but I told him to sit down and relax. I mean come on, Brian. Take a load off for once in your life. Jesus Christ.

This was my first Christian anything, so I was a bit nervous. I thought I wouldn’t know how to give thanks or praise Jesus, or I’d use the wrong tone or something. Thankfully, Amy and Brian aren’t really Christian either. Nothing Christian happened during the whole dinner. Amy played a Sufjan Stevens holiday album.


Amy and Brian are adorable, but they do not play Apples to Apples correctly. The point is to pick the most ludicrously ironic noun to match the adjective, not the most boring obvious noun.

The food was amazing. Thank you to everyone who donated their time, and to those who refused to be reimbursed by the Stranger- your generosity is much appreciated. The Stranger will use the saved money to buy a new vaporizer! God bless everyone! Namaste! The snow is sticking!

Steven Blum
Public Intern

P.S. Brian, you’re hot.


RSS icon Comments


Just like a true Stranger Staffer; telling a straight guy with a collapsed lung he is hot.

Posted by Just Me | December 25, 2007 2:18 PM

Y'all are going to ruin your reputation as hopelessly self-involved, sarcastic hipsters if you keep on doing genuinely nice things like this.

Posted by flamingbanjo | December 25, 2007 2:22 PM

Christmas Dinner isn't a religious ritual, it's a family ritual. Even my very Catholic grandmother doesn't do more than make everybody bow their heads while she says Grace. It's really just about sitting down with loved ones and eating good food.
Well done for putting the whole thing together, and I'm glad I got to participate. Oh, and the gravy was bourbon pecan.

Posted by Rebecca | December 25, 2007 3:07 PM

Woohoo for the cute gay public intern!

Posted by Gay reader | December 25, 2007 3:53 PM

The point of Apples to Apples is to know your judge. If the person is literal-minded, you pick the most literal-minded one. If they would like irony, pick the most ironic one. One of my friends is a history buff and will pretty much pick any historical figure even if it makes no sense whatsoever (e.g., Smelly = Winston Churchill). So, knowing your judge is the key to victory, Public Intern...

We just played a new version of Catch Phrase that is songs and you can either give clues or sing the song. It was excellent....

Posted by Julie | December 25, 2007 4:12 PM

My Apples to Apples skillz will put you on the rock rock.

Posted by Amelia | December 25, 2007 5:03 PM

If Christmas isn't a religious ritual, why do you call it Christmas?

And if you just wanted to get the family together, why do you pick the day of the year with the worst possible weather? And the most crowded roads and airports? When every train is booked? I can see wanting my hated ones to venture out in that crap, but my loved ones, I'd invite them over in May, not December.

Of course some people get depressed and want to have a party this time of year. And they can't wait six days for New Year's Eve.

Posted by elenchos | December 25, 2007 5:38 PM

Wait, Brian's not gay?

Posted by shani | December 25, 2007 6:48 PM

Thanks to everyone who donated. Y'all are awesome!

PS: Hands off, Steve.

Posted by Amy | December 25, 2007 7:06 PM

Hey PI (public intern),

i was one of thoes 18 southerners that sent ya an e-mail. you should've e-mailed me. I would've made baked Southern Mac n cheese, done with lots of love and made with the "rue" which has lots of cholesterol and cheese, basically true soul food. I was born and raised in SC. my mom who lives here says it's better than hers and like my grandmother's now. so that's a complement. i already was told by someone else that my mac and cheese tastes like their grandmothers's. I also do red rice well. I can do hop-n-john but not that well b/c i can't find the beans here like back home.

anyway, you missed out on some fine carolina cookin :)

you should ask for a bunch of gay southerners (i'm one of them) that live here and get them together to do some food. you'd probably get some of the best southern food that you've ever tasted.

Posted by apres_moi | December 25, 2007 9:27 PM

Christmas is originally a religious holiday, although it's become highly secular these days. There are still a lot of religious rituals associated with it, too. But Christmas Dinner is not religious.
And apres_moi, I think you mean "roux" -- a cooked mixture of oil or fat and flour. Mmmmm, that would've been a great side (the mac'n'cheese, not the roux)!

Posted by Rebecca | December 25, 2007 9:48 PM
Posted by John | December 25, 2007 10:36 PM

The day may have Christ's name stamped on it, but it ceased to have any religious meaning for me decades ago. Even taking all the religious crap out of it, the exchange of gifts, the campy Santa sillyness, the excuse to gather the whole family together and pig out just as bad (or worse) as Thanksgiving, and banish the dull grey weather doldrums to the back of my mind for a day... all very much worth it. My mom and brother are still vaguely religious, but the rest of us can't be bothered. No prayers are spoken; Christ is never mentioned once.

Public Intern is awesome. And this assignment sounds much more fun that squeezing canine anal glands. 10 karma points for Public Intern.

Posted by SDA in SEA | December 25, 2007 11:11 PM

Nice job, Steven.

Thanks to everyone for showing some holiday generosity. Very sweet.

Posted by Bauhaus | December 26, 2007 12:55 AM


Spending part of Christmas Day @ UWMC isn't so bad - I was there for four hours today (oops, past midnight - yesterday, I mean), the staff was extra cheerful, and didn't even flinch at the contraband pumpkin pie with whipped cream we brought in. Although we did get a dressing down from the duty nurse for not following "spray atmosphere" protocols or whatever it was called, when we de-masked after they disconnected my stepfather's IV.

Ah, good times, good times.

(Special thanks to all of you on Cascade NE, 8th floor!)

Posted by COMTE | December 26, 2007 1:29 AM

Am I wrong, or have last few public intern posts betrayed a blossoming self-awareness by this young man of sexuality (turning on to Speedo-d activists and the "hot" infirm) and secondary sexual characteristics (his clumsy but endearing shame at his body hair on Alki).

I feel like our little guy is growing up right in front of us, and it's a beautiful thing.

How can it be, really, before we read his assignment to "Hold My Sub in the Sling While I Bang His Brain's Out?"


Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | December 26, 2007 8:21 AM

Am I wrong, or have last few public intern posts betrayed a blossoming self-awareness by this young man of sexuality (turning on to Speedo-d activists and the "hot" infirm) and secondary sexual characteristics (his clumsy but endearing shame at his body hair on Alki).

I feel like our little guy is growing up right in front of us, and it's a beautiful thing.

How long can it be, really, before we read his assignment to "Hold My Sub in the Sling While I Bang His Brain's Out?"


Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | December 26, 2007 8:22 AM

Geez, this place just gets gayer and gayer....

Posted by Big_K | December 26, 2007 8:38 AM

Publie Intern looks like a bucked tooth hillbilly.

Posted by heywhatsit | December 26, 2007 8:41 AM

I'm happy to see my friends were so well taken care of during the holidays this year! We're sad we won't see Brian over the holidays, but thank you, Steven, for all you did!

Posted by M | December 26, 2007 10:49 AM


YOU, are a moron.

Personal attacks on people's appearance are lame, esp. when the Public Intern is adorable.

I have a sneaky suspicion you're ugly as a fence post, if not externally, then certainly internally.

Posted by michael strangeways | December 26, 2007 12:12 PM

Gotta agree with you, P.I., on the Apples to Apples issue. A2A is MIND-NUMBINGLY tedious when played with boring correctness, and tons o'fun when played with irony and lots of collapsing into giggles.

Posted by hillside_hoyden | December 26, 2007 12:57 PM

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