I enjoy holiday warm fuzzies as much as the next person. On New Year’s Day, Christmas, or any time in between, there are lots of good feelings to be found in celebrations with family and friends. But give me too many Hallmark moments this time of year, and I start to need…a palate cleanser. Something to get the sweet taste out of my mouth. Clark Griswold’s Jelly-of-the-Month Club rant, for example. David Sedaris’s Holidays on Ice. Or my favorite Santa-gone-bad image: Dan Ackroyd from the movie Trading Places, wearing a filthy Santa suit, drunk, chewing on smoked salmon through his matted beard.
So when I saw that the members of the Old Town Writing Group were going to read their original “short tales of bad behavior and social misrule” at Bas Bleu Theater, I didn’t want to miss it. Now that I know where Bas Bleu is, I made it there without incident and, after a quick nosh of holiday goodies, settled in for “Feast of Fools: Tales of Holiday Mishaps.”
I had my pen and paper ready to take notes. But, as I was applauding for the first story of sisters who, to their mother’s dismay, have a holiday tradition of staging crime scenes using Christmas cookies, my pen slipped out of my hand, skittered across the floor, and disappeared beneath the row of seats in front of me. At that point, I had a choice: get down on my hands and knees and disturb no less than fourteen people around me as I groped around under the chairs, or give up the pen and hope my semi-reliable memory was not out window-shopping or browsing my brain archives in search of a Seinfeld episode.
I was in luck, however, as the stories were all so unique and memorable that I didn’t need pen and paper. The murder cookies were followed by tales of: a father's well-intentioned gift of a carnivorous, public-menace unicorn; a redneck’s vengeance against a repeat-offender car alarm; coping with dead guinea pigs at a child's birthday party; a young woman experiencing a Dia de los Muertos celebration under the overly-watchful eye of her employer; and how roughing it frontier-style helps a woman cope with the stress brought on by a trespassing mailman. Adding to the fun was the Bad Santa emcee (that's him at left) who rewrote the writer’s bios as only Bad Santa could.
Thanks, Old Town Writing Group, for sharing your stories of holiday angst. They were funny, quirky, touching, and very well-done—the perfect antidote to a sugarplum overdose.