SCENES FROM A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS:
12-23-02, 8:30 AM -
I'm standing at the 45th Street station platform. I'm standing here because they have evidently decided against accepting any actual trains this morning. An old arthritic man and his old arthritic dog creak back and forth on the edge of the platform where the big yellow stripe seems to say, "Stand back, sonny, or the train'll leap off the tracks and take off yer big toe!!"
The station is crawling with urchins, which is unusual at this time of the morning, so I assume they're out of school this week. They weave around in a maze of tall shopping bags piled high with brightly papered boxes. Yes, Christmas is upon New York.
Christmas was upon the Wifely & I this weekend, which we spent in lovely New Haven, Connecticut. Though I must say that Christmas is not really New Haven's season. The streets & the scenic Yale campus were barren and abandoned, and many of the houses remained dark despite their plain white Christmas lights. Our friend Burke pointed out the president of Yale to us in the grocery store, but even he looked like he was in a hurry to get somewhere else.
All that said, we ourselves had a grand time, watching pointless television & monkeying around with our hosts' new iMac (it's a thing of beauty). There were four cats this time, up from the previous three, though our old friend Tommy The Attention Whore stole most of the petting. Christmas dinner was quite nice, with diet violations all around (we gave up our Atkins that they might include meat in the proceedings). And if you've never eaten Bouche de Noelle, find yourself a Frenchman and let him school you.
Being that we had a geek quorum, there was an expedition to the local multiplex to take in The Two Towers. Glory be, but that's a fine movie. Ents, man. How can you beat fighting trees? I really wanted to wear a Klingon uniform just to confuse and alarm the Tolkien faithful, but alas, my balls are as tiny as my costume budget.
Introduced Michele to A Christmas Story, which was fun. Though you never spot the slow bits of a favorite movie until you're trying to prove its greatness to someone else. "Here in just a minute it gets really good. Really..."
12-24-02, 11:55 PM -
It's Christmas Eve in New York. The decorations are up, the community fridge is crammed full of complimentary Coronas, and a musical battle rages in the house: The Titanic soundtrack being played by pan-flutes vs. The Endless Bossa Nova (BOMM, ba-bom, bom, BOMM, ba-bom, bom, BOMM...). It's a goddamn party now.
With our official Christmas already spent in New Haven, we're kind of at a loss for things to do tonight. A dark presence tugs at me from the video/book/canned goods shelf, but I cannot look. It's one of my presents to Wifely: The 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, feared throughout Lucasland. I spotted it at a comic shop. I don't know what came over me.
But now it taunts us. We are well aware of its power to ruin the entire Star Wars universe--upon which a good deal of my character was formed--and give us excruciating bad-dialogue headaches to boot. Wifely gets these worse than I do, so I really don't know what the hell I was thinking. I just HAD to buy it.
And people say there's no proof of Satan's existence. I have a little plastic box of concentrated evil in my room, and it's driving me nuts just sitting there. Maybe it's like The Ring and you die after watching it.
And what better way to die than eating pork rinds in a one-room Brooklyn squat, watching Carrie Fisher sing her coked-up ass off as pan-flutes and bossa nova bass lines clamor for advantage in my dying ears. This is the sound of Hell's waiting room.
I durst not watch it. Merry fucking Christmas, George Lucas. I'll meet you at the crossroads.
12-26-02, 8:30 AM -
Ah, the morning after. And I've got the whole train to myself. Well, almost. I'm the only one who's awake, anyway. We who ride the train know nothing of the anguished automobile commute raging above in the wake of our White Christmas.
We'd heard all yesterday morning that the last New York Christmas snowfall was in 1969, and even that hadn't been much. We woke to the wet, sloppy sound of rain mixed with sleet, which made the ground more brown than white. Curses, thought we, foiled again.
I called the family, wished everyone a death-and-George-Lucas-free holiday, and went upstairs to make brunch. As I prepared the vittles, my eyes strayed to the window, where I saw the rainy, sleety drops become white snowflakes right before my very eyes. Still I hesitated to celebrate, recalling the weathermen's assurances that nothing would stick if you were close to the water, which is only 3 blocks away from our apartment.
Regardless of the weather, we had made up our minds not to spend the day indoors, so we opted to see Star Trek: Nemesis. I likes me some Jean Luc & His Crazy Forehead-Ridged Pals. We left the house near dark and noticed a funny thing: Snow starting to stick. But not much. However, it was still coming down in torrents, so we amused ourselves by trying to eat it as it fell. Which is probably a bad idea, since the snow has to pass through the Smog Layer before hitting your tongue. Ah, fuck it.
23rd Street was the closest train stop to the theater, and also right next to Madison Square Park. We ambled out of the station to find an absolutely perfect picture postcard. Snow hung from every branch, filled in the loops of wrought iron on the park benches, and continued to fall in such thickness that the city lights struggled to shine through the white onslaught, giving the air a golden cast. Statues stood proudly, their bronze shoulders draped in white blankets that seemed to humanize them even further.
And the quiet! While the rest of the city sat down to Christmas dinner, we & a few dog-walkers had the park to ourselves. Cars were intermittent in the normally busy square, and the resulting silence almost gave one the feeling of being Left Behind.
Anyway, we caught our movie, enjoyed the heck out of it, and stepped back out into a slightly more populated snowy world. We wandered over to Union Square Park, and watched snowmen form at the hands of elves young & old. I cannot understate how very little snow I have experienced in my lifetime. I can recall roughly 5-10 times in Texas that there was a dusting, and then it was usually on top of an icky brown ice layer.
But THIS was a lot of frikkin' snow. Central Park (which unfortunately, we didn't see) got 5 inches, and that's about what it looked like in Union Square. After a good frolic, we got on the train home feeling magical and movielike, as if Santa might indeed squeeze his overweight ass down our chimney that night. Although he'd have been a bit late, I guess.
We arrived home & flicked on the idiot box to numb our overstimulated minds for sleep. On every channel, we were assaulted by dark, somebody's-gonna-get-it music and images of beleagured snowplow armadas. "Danger in the streets!!" proclaimed the stern newsmen, and no matter where you turned, someone was talking about how miserable the weather was, and how dead we were all going to be in the morning.
So we turned the stupid thing off and gazed out the window at our lovely White Christmas, the first we'd ever had. What the hell's the matter with people, anyway?