A Christmas Snark
All we wanted, we decided, was a television vacation. We bounced around ideas- Chinese takeout and American Psycho, a trip to a motel up north, camping. But we went to my mother’s house instead, sleeping two to a futon as Long Island Medium cawed us to sleep. It was a strange year. Television has changed. The ornaments are old and new. Grandma is gone. The food is the same- meatballs with lingonberry sauce, large, chilled shrimp glistening with lemon juice and zest. Baked beans and corn pudding. Cookies. Champagne. Around my fourth gin and tonic, things started to get real. The most persistent, most irritating part of Christmas has returned: the anonymous soloist.
The Anonymous Soloist, or AnonSo as she’s now called, sang on one forgettable pop rendition of my high school choir’s Christmas CD. We cut a few of them and sang at Carnegie Hall, IF YOU WERE CURIOUS. The songs are sweet, and my mother always cries at the Irish Blessing at the end, even though we’re not Irish and choose to anoint, not bless, preferably with cocktails. The selection process was strange. There was a rap and rhythm-based song that didn’t make it onto the CD, and our rendition of ‘Do They Even Know It’s Christmas?’ was reserved for caroling in the gated part of town. But somehow, through some strange curse or miracle, this song made it through.
It has an innocuous, almost pleasant start, the kind that only comes from the mystifying homogeny of thirty white girls singing in imperfect harmony. The change is stark and slick, like hitting a patch of black ice. You can’t turn back. She shrieks with soul and posture, as if reclaiming her harpie heritage. It’s ten seconds too long and a half-octave too high and it makes us laugh and swig our drinks and get another round, repeat as needed. We just finished opening gifts. I retired to the den after breakfast, coffee in hand. One of the Bedfellow’s gifts to me was a new Diptyque candle in my favorite scent, Feu de Bois. The last time I had one was for my Beaujolais party back in Paris last November. It makes me feel both nostalgic and comforted. On TLC, a grown woman is rendered speechless when the exterior of her house is decorated with gingerbread cutouts, made of cardboard.
Through tears, she says, ‘It’s the perfect gingerbread brown.’
Oh, TLC. You highlight such sad minutia. Our lives are little more than good company and terrible songs. Childhood videos are nary more than screamed renditions of Happy Birthday. There’s the hurtling trips in the ’98 Escort in Toreador Red, realizing you don’t know the words to ‘Blinded by the Light.’ Roadtrips with fantastic playlists. Realizing Cake Boss is just as good as Carmen, and laughing at this poor, wretched girl, botching Kelly Clarkson and loving every minute of it.
May you all find your perfect gingerbread brown, your gin and tonics, and your candlelights, readers. Happy reading and happy eating.