Well, through a series of events (unfortunate or not, depending upon your point of view) I am spending Christmas with David Sedaris. That is, the writing of David Sedaris, which I like to think offers solace for the postmodern and literate much as It’s A Wonderful Life offers a sort of balm of reassurance for the middle class and the just plain comfy. (It’s my blessing — maybe curse (pov again) — that I aspire to a life lived well enough that at the final tally it cannot be described as Capraesque.)
But when I started reading The Santaland Diaries yet again I quickly realized that to use Sedaris to ward off my own potential creeping melancholy was to bring a whole new level to the day’s muted, far from festive proceedings — like a final insulting yellow spritz on an already browning blanket of two day old snow, now with a look more curry than Currier and Ives. Unless I got my heathen ass in gear.
(Pivotal events of the day up to this point (10:57 am) have included giving my dog some leftovers (turkey and peas) and delinting my winter hat. I strongly doubt that these things will become holiday traditions in the future.)
To add a bit of sparkle to the day I considered another option — watching a Netflix DVD of Broken Flowers with Bill Murray. But as I recalled a couple reviews, which compared his performance to Buster Keaton and described it as “deadpan” (the word itself almost makes me feel dour), I decided to look for new traditions elsewhere.
Let me say that I originally had a plan to “do something” today. I had planned to enjoy my Christmas dinner at an Eastern restaurant, which, more than likely would feature the smiling, familiar figure of a big-bellied Buddha. (I have recently heard this icon isn’t actually Buddha, but a kitchen god, although I have not yet gotten absolute corroboration on this yet.) So much for the family restaurant’s Christmas City miniversion of The Nativity Scene (which surely was made somewhere in Asia anyway) traditionally nestled between the cash register and the toothpick autodispenser. It was a trade-off I was willing to make for some company.
But the dinner date planned with a couple nice folks, a 94 year old uncle and his niece, a woman “of a certain age” who, I was told, is directly related to matinee idol Rudolph Valentino, was not to be. If the name Valentino does not create a blip on your cultural radar, he is the silent film star who gave your great grandmother (perhaps in your case your great great grandmother) the vapors as “The Sheik”. (It is no little accomplishment to inspire the name of a condom.) I have been told by a mutual acquaintance to look at my dinner (canceled sadly due to illness) date’s “bone structure” for facial similarities to the heartpoundingly good looking actor. And though she is a comely woman, I cannot picture her on a camel galloping across the burning sands, or suavely lighting a cigarette for Garbo or Gish.
Thus the day’s dalliance with Mr. Sedaris, who seems to have cornered the market on wry gimlet-eyed stories and essays on the slings and arrows of surviving this outrageous time of year. Holidays on Ice, the previously mentioned The Santaland Diaries, The Christmas Whore (which I will wind up with later, I’m sure)…why, even his best known impression is of Billy Holiday.
So it is agreed (by me, because there is no one here to offer a discordant note of dissent), that the reading of the Sedaris will be my new Christmas tradition!
Don me now my gay apparel!
See Also: Tom Waits Christmas Card From a Hooker
J.D. Finch’s fiction and humor has appeared on the Internet at nealpollack.com, pindeldyboz.com, eyeshot.net, hobart.com and mcsweeneys.net, among others, and in various film and collectible magazines. He once tweaked a well-known lit zine by publishing McStoney’s, a parody bordering on hoax that has done nothing for the author’s reputation, neither in these United States nor abroad. He lives in Vermont.