Photo by Rebecca SchoenkopfChristmastide at the ol' Schoenkopf place, you'll be consumed with envy to discover, is a time of champagne and New Zealand strawberries, of capers and bagels and lox. It's a time when people voluntarily spend time with my family, who I really must disclose are obnoxious, especially at parties. It is a time, you know, of giving, and a time when I consume relatively conspicuously without a bunch of communist shopping guilt. And yet somehow, this year, Christmas blows. Doesn't Christmas blow this year?
Yes. It does.
It isn't just that as of Dec. 15 I still haven't set foot in a store; I don't know why Santa didn't come this year, darling child. Perhaps he doesn't love you anymore.
It isn't just that Orange County seems to be bizarrely lacking in Christmas tree lots—and once I find one, how will I, petite flower that I am, wrestle the damn tree into the house? How?
It isn't only that the damned producers of Arrested Development have found a love interest for Jason Bateman—his brother's Latina girlfriend, for whom he's learning Spanish!—and thus have no need for the tender heart of a spunky communist columnist. (This week's episode revolved around Laguna Beach's "Living Classics Pageant." Beautiful.)
No, it's a deeper unsettledness, akin to Mary-Louise Parker's be-Valiumed fruitcake housewife in Angels in America. She thinks, as the millennium nears, that the end times are coming with it.
I, on the other hand, know they are.
I am not normally one of those people whom the holidays force to examine the innards of the nearest gas oven. Usually, if I may say so, I am a militantly sprightly embodiment of joyeux Noel. But the grand opening Saturday of the Etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest had me close. First, there was Lake Forest itself.
Now, I'm sure Lake Forest is a perfectly lovely place to raise a family. Once you've left your executive-style home in The Woods or Vintage Woods or Whispering Woods or Meadow Woods, it's a piece of cake to drive in your Suburban to the nearest big-box store and stock up on End Times supplies at low low prices. And I think it's lovely that the city went and opened a place for the children, so they'll have someplace to go and "hang" besides the freeway-close Captain Cream's titty bar.
The children, you ask? They numbered in the thousands at the grand opening of the Etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest. Were they awful children, rude children, your friend's children that you have to bite your tongue from explaining to her are the children of the corn? Not at all. They were perfectly . . . fine. They did, however, eerily watchthe lucky ones who were admitted into Lake Forest's newly scooped out bowls and pools with the robotic eyes of the poor underloved robot orphan in A.I. All had hopefully brought their boards and helmets, and their very best brand-new brand-name togs. None would get to use them.
But the pricily clad children and the Stepford-same housing developments weren't nearly as much of a threat to my fragile mental health as the time warp was. All of a sudden it was 1979 all over again, and the Ghost of Christmas Past was showcasing Commie Mom behind the wheel of her Gremlin, driving my brothers to the skate bowl, their striped socks pulled up to their skinned knees. I smelled gas lines and hijackings, and Ronald Reagan making secret (and extra-governmental) deals to give arms to the Ayatollah. Oh, look! It's Inauguration Day 1981, and Iran is setting the hostages free the very day of the change of administration! Even my dad is impressed that Iran has been properly cowed. "They know they better not mess with the U.S.now," my dad says, with a proud and manly nod of his head. "They know they better get their ass in line."
In line for a secret arms-for-hostages handout!
Oddly, there is never a trial for treason.
I try to come back to the future with warm and honeyed thoughts of all the former professional skateboarders I've known before. Let's see. There's the Christian former professional skateboarder who got secretly married after we'd been carrying on for almost two years' worth of Sunday nights. There's the former professional skateboarder who on our first date had no topic of conversation besides sneering at people's outfits—including mine. Now I remember! I hate professional skateboarders!
I remove myself from the swarms and concrete to go home and soothe myself with some online Literati—which, should Parker Brothers be thinking of suing, is notScrabble. I am paired with a woman whose unfriendliness—she won't even type "hi"—comes to a head when I compliment her on the word dint just because I like it. "Nice word!" I say.
"You don't know what 'dint' means?" she demands.
From then on I bypass moves like quizzes in favor of puss, grim, idiot and slit. I'm not sure she gets it, but I'm thrilled to discover I can come up with an insult for 27 consecutive rounds. It's the Christmas spirit in action.
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I flit over to Azteca for the Linda's Doll HutChristmas reunion party—1992 anyone?—which will at least be filled with Christmas spirits, since one of the rules of the Machiavellian gift exchange is that any gift that turns out to be a bottle gets opened immediately and passed around. I get drunk on pia coladas and talk to not one but two pregnant friends. My ex-boyfriend shows up and I blubber drunkenly before leaving and then calling him four or seven times. I come home and play more Literati. Even drunk, I get four seven-letter words. I sleep like a baby. Then they capture Saddam Hussein, and all it needs to be 1983 again is a bunch of people in one-shouldered leotards and terrycloth headbands snorting pounds of coke and weknowhe'sgotchemicalweaponsbecausewe'retheoneswhosoldthemtohim. You know. To balance out the missiles for Iran.
So there I was, all set to kill myself, when I got mysteriously pulled back to 2003. Arnold Schwarzenegger had managed to find some more campaign promises he'd forgotten to break, and once again his spokesbitch Rob Stutzman tssks—again!—that anybody who reminds him of it is hung up "in the past." He's hilarious! Santa Ana Unified School District superintendent Al Mijares had sent home a letter with bromides about "not listen[ing] to anyone who would ask you to do something that is not in your child's best interest." It was a mystifying letter, until we realized he's referring to (while struggling not to mention) the statewide Latino economic boycott proposed by Nativo Lopez in protest of the repealing of SB 60. Mijares' big plan for keeping kids in school that day involves giving away a color television. Tons of kids sick-out anyway. And the Register printed a column by Rich Lowry titled "The Great American Job Machine" in which Lowry says, "It is in destroying jobs that the economy improves and makes it possible for the standard of living of all Americans to increase" and "This constant churning means that even a 'stagnant' job market is extremely dynamic." Stagnant is dynamic, and orange is the new pink!
And once again I've got a reason to live.