When I asked Jordan to write a post about her guys and gals who give us nightmares I specifically requested that Chance and Crash be included in this Christmas ‘special’. There was a little something about Chance in the piece but, to my surprise there was no tidbit about Crash, the enigma that I always wanted to know a little better. When I asked Jordan why, she sniggered:
“Ha ha, it was hard enough prying an answer to “what are you getting your significant other for Christmas” out of Chance. If I asked Crash (a very mouthy, single Buddhist) I’d never hear the end of it ;-)”
So in case you were wondering, that’s why there’s no Crash in this post. Here’s Jordan’s ode to holiday gift giving and what her characters are buying for their significant others:
It’s ironic that Wave should ask me to write about Christmas this year, since I’m on a really big “no stuff, no commercialism, no clutter!” kick. This will be the first year I can remember where I am giving no physical presents. I sent out a few cards, and that’s it.
Although I’m currently anti-stuff, I wasn’t always. One particularly cool memory that I treasure was the year my dad bought me a stereo. I must have been 12 or 13. While the stereo itself was of course the coolest thing he could have given a 12- or 13-year-old me, what was really engaging was the way he gifted it. He started out by handing me a card that had a clue inside it, that led to another clue somewhere else in the house, and another, and another, until finally I went down in the basement and found my brand new stereo all set up! (So if you’re reading this, dad, thanks! I always remember how much fun that was.)
Because it’s not necessarily the gifts that make the impressions on us but the stories around them, I asked my characters how they were approaching their holiday gift-giving, and some of the rationale behind it. (This list originally appeared in JCP News last year, but it may be new to many of you! Chance’s answer is new, since he premiered last February.)
Without further ado, here’s what the characters themselves had to say to the question, what did you get your significant other for Christmas?
Wild Bill (Channeling Morpheus, Sweet Oblivion): Piss-in-a-biscuit, do you know how hard it is to figure out which one of them little computers is the right one? Which operating system, they ask me. I didn’t know surgery would be involved, I tell ’em—and they think I’m kidding. I am, but it still don’t change the fact I have no idea what they’re talking about. Even asking which one they would get for themselves if they had their druthers…that landed me in a jumble of meaningless words, gigabytes and megabytes and ram and rom. So I grabbed the most expensive one before Michael got tired of flirting with the kid at the makeup counter and caught me pinned to the electronics counter under a pile of incomprehensible technobabble.
Jacob Marks (PsyCop): I considered getting Vic a suit, a merino wool two-button that actually fit him. I could dope him up and bring him to fitting—I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I could probably snag the jacket that fits him best in the shoulders and see if there’s an off-the-rack size at the Big & Tall shop that would work better than what he’s got, and then have a fitting done at the store afterward. But what would it say to him if I did—that I don’t think he’s capable of dressing himself? It’s hard with him. The last thing I need is for him to think I’m condescending. So I don’t know. Would it be awful to get him a gift card?
Dr. James Harmon (Channeling Morpheus, Sweet Oblivion): We haven’t celebrated Christmas since 1952, when I told Felice that with all the suffering in the world, I wasn’t sure that God even existed. I had convinced myself she’d be devastated. And here she’d been pondering the same thing all along. The relentless jewelry advertisements on television are inescapable, though, and they’ve planted the idea in me that I’d love to see a diamond on her. I picture myself bringing out one of those boxes with a grand flourish, but who’s to say whether I’d get a reaction like the tearful embrace they show on in the commercial, or whether she’d just laugh.
Carolyn Brinkman (PsyCop): I can still remember the look on Doug’s face the year he gave me a pink cashmere sweater, and the nicest thing I could say was, “I don’t really like pink.” I suppose we could have stopped exchanging gifts altogether, but over the years we’ve just decided to be more creative about our situation. We made up our own tradition called the Gift Grab, where any gift we don’t absolutely love gets put into middle of the room, and one of the other family members can steal it. It seems like Libby and Cora end up trading a majority of their presents with each other. They also have a tendency to buy me pink things so they can grab them all, but that’s part of the fun. The neighbors probably wonder what all the screaming’s about during Gift Grab! Which is fine. I’m sure they think we’re all subversive anyway because we actually say what we’re thinking, and also because we don’t believe in putting chemicals on the lawn.
Michael Davies (Channeling Morpheus, Sweet Oblivion): Okay, so I thought it would be cool if I could make some kind of home brew for us to celebrate with. They ferment milk in Russia, don’t they? But at the wine making shop they said that it’s the sugars in milk that create the alcohol during the fermentation process, not the protein. I got the guy to give me a little sample of the culture anyway, and I left my experiment in a locker at the bus station so Bill didn’t smell it and figure out what I was trying to do. Let’s just say it didn’t work. Big time. I kinda threw up in my mouth when I was flushing it down the toilet. Plan B is a Misfits T-shirt from Hot Topic. I don’t need to tell him about the bloodbrew.
Victor Bayne (PsyCop): In retrospect, I should have realized it would be a bad idea to ask Crash what I should get Jacob for Christmas. Cut me a break, if anyone likes to voice their opinion, it’s him. Plus, he’s known Jacob longer than I have. But…yeah. Bad idea. Then I asked Carolyn, and she said she thought Jacob would be thrilled with anything that didn’t look like it had come from a gas station mini-mart. While that’s true, I’d at least like to be in the ballpark of a good gift. I couldn’t see him liking a sweater I’ve picked out, for instance. Which I say just because he almost never wears a sweater, and the ones he does own would probably give me a heart attack if I saw the price tag. So I went to the gourmet shop and fell on the clerk’s mercy, and she set me up with some cheese and imported crackers and—get this—caviar. I hope that’s not too hokey, if send him out to get a newspaper and have the spread in the living room by the time he gets back. I should probably get him a new porno, too. Just in case.
Chance (Petit Morts): Since I’m single and I plan to stay that way, the point is moot.
JCP: Okay, well…what would you like to receive, if, theoretically, you did have a partner, and this partner you have no interest in were to surprise you with something?
Chance: If I absolutely must extrapolate…I can’t. I don’t want anything.
JCP: Everybody wants something.
Chance: Nothing you can cram in a box and tie with a bow.
JCP: That sounds suspiciously like “World Peace.”
Chance: Don’t be absurd. World Peace would be so tedious you’d all die of boredom.
JCP: Help me out, here. If I don’t get you to answer, Wave’s gonna send the hot tub boys to break my kneecaps. Or splash water on me. Do you know how fast water freezes in December in Wisconsin? Even hot water?
Chance: If I must. My ideal gift would be to see a moment of joy reflected back at me. Not pleasure, because pleasure is so fleeting that once it’s gone, it’s gone. Joy is different, somehow. It transforms the recipient. And while I suspect that some of the relationships I’ve massaged into place have resulted in moments of joy, they transpire when I’m no longer there to appreciate them. With my busy schedule I can’t linger around peering in people’s windows to see how they’re getting on, though, so I suppose I’ll need to make do with pleasure. That’s why I became a chocolatier. Watching someone’s face transform as the chocolate melts in their mouth…I suppose it’s as close enough to witnessing joy as I can expect to come.
JCP: It’s hard to say whether he was being sarcastic or not. I think he’s sneering….
What about you—what are your memorable stories behind gifts you’ve given or received?
Thanks for reading, and since I really do like Chance’s idea, despite the fact that he delivered it with a curled lip, I wish you all joy in the year to come.
Jordan, I still think you could have included something about Crash. Now he’ll be pissed.
Jordan’s Contact Information
Website: http:// jcpbooks.com