Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fall On Yer Knees

I froze all day today. It was unseasonably cold. So screw it, let's have Christmas in April.

This is the Spookshow In Your Pants Christmas album; composed, performed and recorded Christmas week of 2000 in a crazy flurry of creativity. Warm Feelings was also composed and performed that week but it didn't quite fit with the Christmas theme aside from the "Have you been a good little boy" sample so I left it out.

It was kind of a nice time. I had a boyfriend who was probably the most natural, normal relationship I've had. He was a Christmas nut, and I have always hated that time of year. No, more than hated; it sends me into the worst place I can imagine and I don't know exactly why. Somehow my worst memories come to the surface that time of year. But Mark was crazy about Santa and trees and lights and for that very reason we never should have got together. We met on Thanksgiving week. For whatever reason, my personality charmed him; usually it tends to go in the opposite direction. But this is the Puddlewinks formula: I go years without a date and when I land someone they are way beyond, physically, for which I should qualify. He looked like a model and I looked like a toad wearing spats. Frankly, I'd rather settle for more mediocre looks and a semblance of regularity, but apparently it's not in the cards.

But Mark's Christmas glee was, at first, tough to endure. I loved looking at him; I loved talking to him. But goddamn, his giddiness over the fact he had a tree in his house and stockings stuck all over the place was more than I could bear. Plus there was that whole actor thing.

I'd said, for years, that I would never, ever date anyone who was a Psychologist or an actor. Because one wants to change your personality and the other changes theirs for a living. And Mark absolutely did this: around his Theatre friends he was insufferable but when it was just he and I felt like I was falling in love. This dual-play personality would have been a turnoff were it not for the fact that, somehow, he got me to understand Christmas.

"Look," he said, "It doesn't have to be about religion or family or crass, crazy commercialism. Let's just drive around. Let's just drive around and look at the houses, decked out in pretty lights and decorations, and pretend Earth looked like that all of the time instead of just one month a year."

So we drove around and held hands and yeah, he was right. The world looked a lot more fun to be around. The ice block around my heart this time of year melted just a tiny bit. Not enough to make me seem entirely human to friends and family, but still, for what it was, it worked a little. And compared to my screaming-meemie approach to Christmas for many years beforehand, it was a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon.

He forced me to watch the Bing Crosby/Rosemary Clooney movie 'White Christmas' with him; something I would have never done on my own with a gun to my head. But since it was him I initially endured it. And ended up loving it thanks to our shared commentary; simultaneously making fun of it and reveling in the camp factor. And realizing, to my shocked horror, that it was a pretty fun movie just on its own terms. What the hell was I becoming?

Mark left Ohio to visit relatives across the country Xmas week. I went crazy with holiday cheer and catapulted into one of my most creative bursts ever: I created an entire mini-album of Christmas-themed songs to give him upon his return. Not entirely because he had turned me into a manger-frenzied icon of holiday cheer but because he had managed to let just a tiny bit of light shine in when it came to feeling what normal people do. Plus I hoped it would make him happy. 'White Christmas' turned out to be a major influence, but thank God there was enough of me left to make it weird.

I think it did. Make him happy, I mean.

This was not the great love of my life; we broke up a few weeks after Valentine's Day. He was decent about it and brought along a pipe and a bag of pot.

"Oh, lovely parting gifts," I said.

But still, his teaching me how to reinvent horrible times of the year into your own, more positive, terms was one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. I just didn't know you could do it that way.

So you and I will reinvent Christmas as something that can happen on a cold day in April and listen to the Spookshow In Your Pants Christmas Album 'Fall On Your Knees'.

I will not go into details but it turned out to be a mighty prophetic title.

Click on the titles below to hear the songs in order:

1) Dick the Halls

2) Ave Bill Cosby

3) White (Trash) Christmas

4) Adeste Fidelis

5) Snow

6) The Best Things Happen While We're Dancing

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