Fauxhawk wants a Christmas tree.
Despite his pragmatic, slightly cynical nature, Fauxhawk is into Christmas - HARDCORE. He has been talking about getting a tree for two weeks, waiting with a child’s anticipation for the vendors to line up on his block. He has dozens of ornaments. He has Christmas stockings for his cats. I find this vaguely amusing coming from someone who prayed that Martha Stewart would be molested in prison by a pack of lesbian drug dealers.
I come from a family that takes Christmas seriously. My beloved mother slaves for weeks - to the point of exhaustion – to create magic for our ever-expanding family. We have an enormous tree. We have an enormous party. We have an enormous (and grotesque and shameful) amount of presents. It is wonderful, but entirely too much. By the time Christmas rolls around, my mom is a hag. It is at this point that my ungrateful brothers and I like to taunt her by shouting, “Sugar plum fairies WILL dance in your heads, GOD DAMMIT!”
The legacy of my mother’s Christmas fanaticism is that I am obsessive about Christmas trees. This means that I have to visit several vendors, make them open up twenty-five trees, visit them twice, go home, think it over, come back, bargain them down, change my mind, and buy the first one I saw. It has always been this way, and I blame my mother, from whom I inherited this trait. And so I met Fauxhawk’s invitation to go tree shopping with some trepidation.
What happens when a Christmas compulsive mixes with a Christmas zealot?
When we meet in Brooklyn outside Fauxhawk’s apartment, it’s snowing. The sky is lavender, the air smells piney, and there is an unsuspecting Canadian girl in flannel ready to serve us. To my surprise, I rein it in. We pick a tree within five minutes, doing the whole, “What do you think? Whatever you want, I don’t mind, they’re all nice” routine. Fauxhawk has his jazz shoes on about the tree, and it’s infectious.
Then the fun begins. As we haul the seven-footer up five flights, I get stuck several times, wedged between the tree and the stairwell. Apparently, I am not gifted in the tree-carrying arts. As the blood drains from my extremities, Fauxhawk loses patience. “LIFT!” he says. “LIFT! IT! UP!” I answer his commands with strangled sounds of exertion.
When we finally get the tree to the apartment, we are both huffing and pissed off. There are pine needles everywhere. The cats circle the tree, no doubt plotting where they are going to urinate next.
Fauxhawk unravels the lights and begins to hang them – strangely, weirdly, half-assedly. This is not my system and I DO NOT LIKE IT. NOT ONE BIT. But I quiet my Christmas compulsion until it is just a small, gentle voice that says, “What if we just move this string a bit to the…”
“WHAT?!” he says.
“I think it just needs to move over a little. Just a…”
“ONE PERSON NEEDS TO BE IN CHARGE HERE!”
“I’m just saying that…”
“ONE PERSON!” he exclaims. Little beads of sweat are forming above his lip.
“THAT PERSON CAN BE YOU. OR, IT CAN BE ME.”
We are locked in a battle of wills – two power-hungry people with too much invested in having a perfect Christmas tree.
“Why are you so tense?” I say, breezily. I know this question to have an enraging effect on people. Especially when said in a breezy tone. I like to pull it out when I want things to escalate to the point of inappropriate behavior.
By now, Fauxhawk is semi-hysterical. “I AM NOT TENSE BECAUSE THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.”
“And I am not aware of this 'one person' rule.”
“It’s a rule! It is!”
FINE. I sit on the couch and sulk, looking on as Fauxhawk strings the lights in his fakakta way. I chuckle to myself as he places the ornaments in ALL THE WRONG PLACES. Finally, I lose interest, absorbed in my book and my self-righteousness.
The next time I look up, the tree is done.
Fucking hell, how did he do that? It’s like Elle Décor exploded all over the room.
I perform an inspection. “Good balance of ornaments; placement of lights excellent. Nice combination of elegance and kitsch. It looks very nice,” I concede.
And then I move an ornament, just to show him. One person has to be in charge, after all.
And that person is me.
Mean-spirited holiday greeting card by 16 Sparrows. Get it here.