Wednesday, December 19, 2012
SANTA J. SQUAMATA'S CHRISTMAS OF EVIL
(performed by Jason Squamata at The TRUTH OR FICTION? Christmas Special at the Funhouse Lounge: Portland, OR on 12/16/12. Composed shortly beforehand.)...
A very Merry Christmas to you all.
I trekked across the frozen wastes of NoPo to be here tonight, not for the ego stroke of an audience...your laughing...your clapping hands...
I didn't come here merely to "entertain" you.
I came here to give you all a gift.
However blue your Christmas may be, it's a brighter thing than the yule I knew in 1993.
I came here to cast the shimmering bits of your accumulated Christmases into higher relief.
I came here to tell you all about my CHRISTMAS OF EVIL.
To paint this grisly picture...this advent calendar of shame...I need to tell you who I was in '93.
I was a college dropout, but I was densely self-educated, mainly due to my adolescent shoplifting skills and the laxity of library security in that primitive, almost innocent age.
I was living in Boston, supporting myself mainly by guinea pigging at local hospitals and laboratories.
'93 was a golden age for the enterprising science pig.
I was easy meat for the most lucrative experiments, and a reasonably good buy, at that.
Their standards, ethical and otherwise, were even more louche than the library's.
I was starved, injected, studied, deprogrammed, reprogrammed, bewildered, basted, and pumped full of pills. On a good gig, they just needed my body.
I was a one-man wonderland for their most invasive probes, and I loved it.
I could read and write without the interruptions of a dayjob.
I could slough my worldly needs on a prefab pilgrimage and learn to crave a fresh flavor of jell-o.
On one of my infrequent furloughs from the facility, I crossed paths with an elfin art school fashion major named April, who was the spitting image of Molly Ringwald, circa "Pretty in Pink".
Our dates were sweet, barely sexual, evoking high school puppy loves that I had yearned for in secret.
We didn't have much in common, aside from a love for pretty things.
But after one particularly grueling experiment, wherein I was denied all natural light and time cues for thirty days while being battered with math tests and thought puzzles that seemed to come every fifteen minutes...after THAT one, it seeemed like a good idea...
to get MARRIED.
Immediately after getting sprung, I went running to a novelty shop and bought a silver dragon-headed ring with a little crystal ball in its jaws, the kind of engagement ring you'd offer a hobbit.
She said "Yes", the poor fool.
So we moved to New York City, where the fashion people go, me with fifty notebooks full of surrealistic gibberish and a trunk of stolen library books.
She with a mannequin torso, a complete collection of the Little House on the Prairie series, and a desperate love for fancy hats.
It didn't last very long.
We lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, but Manhattan was close enough for me to hear it howling my favorite names in the dead of night. I wanted mystery, glamour, experience, and to take every drug that I had been too shy to ask about in my whirlwind tour of college.
April listened to hymns on cassette when she had a headache. She related to the characters on "Friends". And she had never even HEARD of anal sex.
The disparity between the adventures I wanted and the nightly soul-crushing quagmire of "must see TV" and chubby hubby ice cream grew from wistful aggravation into a profound spiritual crisis.
I needed to get out of our coupleness by any means necessary, out into the antic nightlife and dreamlife of New York fucking City. I needed to be free. My very SOUL seemed to depend on that freedom.
But I really REALLY didn't want to look for an apartment.
So I started scheming...lying...playing games.
I knew that April hated the very IDEA of drugs, due to her Christian Science cult programming.
"Paging Dr. Jesus...Paging Dr. Jesus...". It used to drive her crazy when I said that. But I was still to shy to get actual drugs from the happening people I would fleetingly cross paths with. So I would study up on the alleged effects and PRETEND to be on a different drug every night of the week.
But that didn't drive her away. She still looved me, you see, the silly silly girl.
Bible thumpers love a rescue mission.
She would leave 12 step brochures on my pillow, which I would scissor to pieces and incorporate into Burroughs-style cut-up pornography, which I would then leave on HER pillow. Everything we did in that apartment was a cry for help.
I tried to be belligerent.
She thought it was just a phase.
I tried to be disgusting.
But it's hard to be disgusting at that age. When you're 21, everything you do is sexy.
Finally, after a week of me giving her the worst kind of attention, a week of her meeting my every outrage with tolerant sweetness, the way through became clear to me, as if an evil black lightbulb had come to life above my head.
In one of our more intimate moments, back in our crispy green salad days, she had confessed her kryptonite, the one behavior that had always hurt her above all others, for some tender childhood reason I barely heard in the first place (so don't ask me).
April hated to be ignored.
More than anything.
So that's what I did. Around the start of December, I stopped talking.
Two weeks of it, and my wish was granted, like a shimmering Christmas miracle.
That gentle, quirky, daffy little nubbins was moving out.
What would have been our first Christmas together would consist of her angry fanatical parrents driving all the way from Boston in a big truck, taking her furniture and fashion scraps and knick-knacks to some Christian Science safehouse erected for just such an occurrence.
April, no doubt, would be sobbing throughout the proceedings.
I chose not to think about that.
To avoid the awkward tears and piercing gazes of bitter Christian judgement, and to avoid having to move any furniture, I got drunk and went to the movies. All day long.
When I got back to the pad, it was like a Nativity in reverse.
No gifts. No Magi. No furniture. No toiletries.
And most importantly, no wife.
The shock of it all wasn't quite as sweet, at first, as what I had anticipated.
I guess I expected a parade of club kids to already be en route from the city, crossing the river on platformed moon-boots like an omnisexual wild hunt, frothing at their lipsticked mouths, already rabid and full of the drugs I wanted.
That would come. Later on.
But that night, Christmas was coming on. I was alone. And it seemed like I should be sad.
I settled in for a hollow ritualization of what I thought I should be feeling, and maybe was, underneath all my cleverness.
With the last few dollars from my guinea pigging rampage, I went to the bodega and assembled the ingredients:
One block of Cracker Barrel cheddar.
Two 40 ounce bottles of Crazy Horse malted yuletide cheer.
The beatbox that had been with me since before her, playing lonesome, boozy songs that evoked all the things I was supposed to be feeling.
I never liked Tom Waits or Charles Bukowski before that night, and I've barely liked them since.
But they were there for me, in my gloom.
With that way you have of feeling things at twenty-one, checking for cameras so you'll know which angle to emote at, searching every face for a recognition of the pain you're performing, I curled up foetally on the hard wooden floor.
And I laughed.
I laughed and laughed and laughed.
Until, yes, I cried.
Real, unsolicited tears.
And I wasn't sure why.
I'd pulled it off, my marriage hustle. The world was my orgy, at least potentially.
But I cried that Christmas Eve like the sweet baby I never was.
I sang "Silent Night" aloud in a tremulous, infantile falsetto.
As I look back at that sadness, what i wish is that I could wrap my arms around that boy, not to tell him that it will all be okay, because it wasn't.
I'd hold him tightly and curl my arms just so...so I could effortlessly break his neck and save the girls after April some misery.
At the very least, I'd like to slap him out of his delusions of cleverness.
So he'd know that he won nothing,
that too many of the sorrows that have transpired and humbled him since came from that pact I made with the worst things in me.
There but for the Grace of Santa go YOU, my lovelies. Be good to each other.
Ladies, stay away from guys like me, and not just at Christmas.
Gentlemen, assume always that you're the scum of the earth, clutch the one you love...and apologize.
Good night. Merry Christmas. And I'm sorry.