It was the night before Christmas, more or less. Call it Christmas Eve. My parents did, or nearly did. The winter home of mamma and pop was silent. The books of Bokonon advised it be so. No creature stirred under that geodesic dome, not even in the earthling habitat. So it goes.
Before I know it he rips off my stockings and throws them by the chimney.
Hmmm…I hope that my inner goddess will soon be here. Will it? When?
I gasp and quiver, strapped onto his bed. But all I can think about are his sugarplums dancing the tango inside me.
Mama and I had just arrived at the refugee camp and were given our Government Issue kerchief and cap when I heard a low groaning sound coming from out on the lawn. I feared the zombies had already found us.
Did you go to the window to check?
Yes I did. And it wasn’t Zack.
What did you see?
A miniature S-turbo 522* pulled by what looked like reindeer. God, they were beautiful. I haven’t seen animals like that since before the Great Panic.
* A miniature S-turbo 522 was a military vehicle, usually painted red, used to deliver toys and later supplies to refugee camps outside the safe zone.
How strange this is, thought the boy, as the red caravan came to a halt. An elderly merchant revealed himself along with his wares and the boy knew this man was the one to whom he would teach his secrets. The omens had told him so. The merchant gathered his reindeer from the caravan and waved his arms over their heads. He called each one by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen. The boy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This was the Language of the World.
It’s a peculiar thing about reindeer, especially ones that fly to the house-top. You may think that these vile little creatures are the most disgusting things you could ever imagine, when, in fact, there is nothing wrong with them at all. These reindeer are perfectly normal except that they learned to fly by age two. By age three they were already practicing for Christmas Eve. Now, at age seven, they were prancing and pawing at Papa’s ramshackle roof, pulling a sled bursting at the seams with toys for his snotty nosed, little children. St. Nicholas couldn’t be bothered to travel there by himself. He was too fat.
It has come to my attention that I may be the only American — man or woman — who is keenly aware of the impact that St. Nicholas made on Gen-X fashion. Before boho there was peddler-chic. Look at Madonna in the 80s or even Guns and Roses. Both flawlessly executed the ashes and soot look. That’s what Appetite for Destruction was all about. Now, I may be biased because Guns and Roses is the first band I ever saw in a neon underground warehouse in Wisconsin, but arguably The Beatles pioneered the twinkle-eyed, dimple-faced, rosy-cheek fad decades earlier. However, back then no one would have said they were taking cues from St. Nicholas. It was the 60s.
I stare at him. His beard is white. White like snow. White like cocaine. He has a pipe. I look at it, speak.
Is that for me?
He looks away, looks back at me. He pats his belly. It shakes. He shakes. He shakes like a fucking bowl of jelly, like the addict I know he is, like the addict I know I am.
He turns his head, winks.
I want to lie down.
I want to cry.
He gave his wand a little flick and golden sparks flew from its tip. Each stocking filled with wonderful gifts. There were chocolate frogs and wizard cards and even Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. The muggles would be pleased by morning. Then he placed his wand beside his nose and spoke only one word aloud. “Leviosa,” he said and up the chimney he rose. He met with his broomstick and the rest of his team. Such a cheery lot, they were, as they took to the sky. But I heard him exclaim before he flew out of sight,
“Happy Christmas, nerds! Now shut it down.”