A Partridge in a Pear Tree

This is the first installment of the series, “The 12 Days of the Tilley-Blandin Coronavirus Christmas.” Previous stories about the Tilley-Blandin family universe can be found here.

“I love Christmas more than anything — other than shooting at things and making lethal contact,” the older white man said into the recording studio microphone. “Just got myself a Christmas present, a new Remington 7600. My friends, I’m at an ‘undisclosed location,’ on the non-road never travelled, and I’m looking forward to pulling the trigger on that baby. Santy Claus better wear some blaze orange when he comes around just to be sure.”

Ted Nugent, the septuagenarian musician and advocate for firearms, sat on a stool while three cameras tracked his movements around the deserted studio, which was located outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. He wore a Bob Seger t-shirt and camo pants. His gray hair had grown out a bit. He sported a goatee. A technician named Lyle, located about 1,300 miles away in Boston, controlled the movement of the cameras, monitored the lighting in the studio and the sound quality of the recording, and provided feedback when necessary. Ted Nugent reminded Lyle of a thinner versions of the character Jeffrey Lebowski more than the Motor City Madman.

Lyle was a college student studying audio engineering at the Berklee College of Music. He also worked part-time as a subcontractor for [redacted for legal reasons], a company that works remotely with a lot of musicians. Lyle called his client Mr. Nugent, which seemed just fine. He knew that Ted Nugent recorded a song called “Cat Scratch Fever” back in the seventies only because, before the pandemic, Lyle’s best friend and college roommate, Harvey, who was studying classical guitar, played in a metal band on the weekends; their encore song was a cover of Nugent’s hit.

“In the spirit of the season, I want to remind you that I recorded a pretty up-tempo version of ‘Deck the Halls’ a few years back,” Nugent continued. “And if you are an old pussy grabber, then you might remember that I went on David Letterman’s show back in the 1980’s – who remembers anything about what happened in that decade? — to record some old-timey Christmas music. Yeah, I love me some Christmas.”

Lyle was not sure what Nugent wanted to do with this recording session. They had only worked together a handful of times. His boss had texted him to be ready for anything from a podcast or YouTube musing on Thanksgiving or Christmas themes to a full-blown solo concert. However, his boss was very clear about subjects that Nugent was to avoid at all costs during the holiday season. Lyle was getting paid by the hour.

Nugent seemed quiet and contemplative.

“Someone told me about this thing called ‘Death by Nugent,’” he said. “If you’re listening or watching, you probably heard about it. I’m way past the thinking stage on the idea of young white American men giving their lives to protect our God-given freedoms.”

At this point, Lyle interrupted.

“Mr. Nugent, I’m sorry, but my instructions were to keep things here on the lighter side,” he said. “Just sayin…”

“Are you still recording?”

“No sir,” Lyle said. He was lying.

“Lyle, you do know that the whole ‘Death by Nugent’ thing is just an urban legend, right?” Nugent asked. It was more of a rhetorical question. “The whole idea of young men walking around in public in 2020 without protective masks and wearing my concert t-shirts so that they can do suicide by police to make a political statement is just absurd. If you love Ted Nugent, you are not going to just…let…some…5-0 motherfucker cap you like that. Never.”

Lyle had seen videos of Death by Nugent episodes and read the infamous account about Louis Guidry. It was not an urban legend. Before the law was overturned by the Supreme Court, the PPE Act of 2020 mandated the wearing of PPE in public at the risk of summary execution by the police. Hundreds of young men, most wearing Ted Nugent concert t-shirts, had defied the law and been killed. However, Lyle was not getting paid to argue facts with Ted Nugent.

“Mr. Nugent, I understand what you are saying, but you were just talking about Christmas…”

“Right. Right. Right. OK…So here we are friends, looking forward to a different sort of Christmas. And here’s my Christmas gift to you.”

Nugent reached for an acoustic guitar and sang a version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with some changes to the lyrics:

  • Two turtle doves became “two heaving titties”
  • Three French hens became “threesomes galore”
  • Four calling birds became “four centerfolds”
  • Five golden rings became “five golden showers”
  • Six geese a-laying became “six maids a-laying”
  • Seven swans a-swimming became “seven girls a-stripping”
  • Eight maids a-milking became “eight maids a-stripping”
  • Nine ladies dancing became “nine ladies twerking”
  • Ten lords a leaping became “ten dudes a-packing”
  • Eleven pipers piping became “eleven peckers pecking”
  • Twelve drummer drumming became “twelve rockers rockin’”

At the end of the song, Nugent said, “I just saw on TV that, quote unquote ‘You shouldn’t gather this Thanksgiving.’ There are dirty, rotten, soulless bastards in positions of power that are trying to tell us how we can celebrate Thanksgiving with our families. You’re not in charge of my Thanksgiving. We are in charge of our Thanksgiving. And keep your hands off our Christmas. God, country, family, Christmas, and pussy, and not necessarily in that order.”

When he was done, Lyle said, “Mr. Nugent, I noticed that you didn’t change one of the verses.”

“Lyle, I guess that makes me your partridge in a pear tree.”

Lyle laughed.

“I am working on a new song that I plan to release in the next few weeks,” Nugent announced. “How’s your schedule?”

“Good, Mr. Nugent. You have my number. Just give me an hour’s warning.”

“Thanks, Lyle. That’s everything for today. Save me the digital files. I’ll figure out what to do with ‘em later. God, prayer, country, family, and pussy, and not necessarily in that order.”

Lyle debated what he was going to do with the unedited files: keep them for himself or forward them to his boss.

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