HIPPO SANTA IS NOT LUTHERAN, BUT HE DOES HANG OUT WITH LUTHERANS SOMETIMES.
He took the train all the way from the middle of Bum-Fuck Pennsylvania where he taught art at a small college and rode that thing all the way to Racine. It was a thirty-hour ride.
When I picked him up from the train station he looked fully alert and unfazed by the journey though. His curly hair was up in a bun. And his face had just the right amount of scruff. The guy looked handsome.
We hugged then got in my warm Jeep.
“It was a good ride,” he said. “Nearly lost my mind though. The seats on the train were so hard. So uncomfortable. And I’m pretty sure the guy I was sitting next to was a serial killer. He had that look in his eyes. Well, he slept most of the way so I didn’t really see his eyes much, but you know what I mean.”
“That’s awesome,” I said.
“He smelled like pepperonis,” he said. “I usually don’t mind dry meats. They are healthier for you. Can’t handle when a man smells that way though.”
“That makes sense.”
The wind picked up.
Jay zippered his jacket.
“Jesus fuck, Wisconsin is basically the arctic,” he said.
“I know,” I said. “It’s been rough.”
“Fucking world’s ending, bro.”
“It’s kinda exciting.”
“It gives me anxiety,” I said.
“Let’s get something to eat,” he said. “I’m fucking famished.”
Then he gave me a big hug. A hard hug. It hurt a little. But I liked it.
I drove him to Asiana’s.
We got some curry.
I told him about the plan for the night.
“I’m taking you to a Christmas party,” I said. “Church ladies galore.”
“I’m into that. Will there be food?”
“Will there be booze?”
“They will have wine. So much wine.”
“I can’t wait,” he said.
We talked for a while, then drove back to my place and napped a little.
Bella got home around six.
She saw Jay and then hopped up and down and gave him a big hug.
“UNCLE JAY IS HERE!” she kept yelling.
There was some more hugging.
Then she broke away and started talking about work.
A kid had eaten his own diaper.
Jay looked visibly very nauseous. So I asked Bella to cease and desist.
Then we headed out.
The party was at Debby’s place.
It was a cozy time.
There was cheese and wine.
Jay talked to a couple of ministers about old timey religious paintings.
Bella joked with the church ladies about how sloppy I was.
At one point we sat around the table with some church people and joked about the sloppiness of Christmas past.
“There was this one Christmas we really said fuck it to the whole family thing,” I said.
“Is that the time you vomited all Christmas?” Jay asked with his arm around my neck.
“No, I mean the one where we just hung out in Montauk.”
“THE DUNES!” he said. Getting excited. “THE FUCKING DUNES! THAT WAS AWESOME! We went for that long hike. You made me read shitty poetry out loud.”
“Ginsberg. It was bad stuff. But I loved getting all new agey on Christmas.”
“You guys are such dorks,” Bella said. “Who spends Christmas hiking on a beach?”
“It was awesome,” Jay said.
“We got shot at,” I said.
“It was hunting season,” I went on. “We kept hearing gun shots. I saw a bullet hit the sand near me.”
“We had to hide behind this one dune,” Jay said. “It was terrifying. It was awesome.”
At one point we all sang carols. We all stood around the kitchen in a circle holding hands. I was drunk on wine and thought it was adorable.
As we sang, I looked over at Jay and started laughing. He looked so uncomfortable.
“Come on, Jay, give it some dry vocals,” I said.
That’s what we used to call the really tore up metal band vocals. Jay used to love dry vocals. “Love me some dry vocals,” he used to say before howling out some verse from a metal song.
“Come on, Jay! Sing!”
He looked at me and shook his head. And his eyes said to me, “Please bro, there is only so much of this I can take.”
We stopped singing and started planning on getting to church.
I might have gotten a little too drunk on wine.
My wife and Jay also got too drunk. They were even drunker than I was and I’m pretty sure Bella said she was going to drive, even though she denied it.
“How the fuck are we going to get to church?” I asked Bella.
“Shit. I don’t know. Why are you asking me?”
“Baby, I can’t drive. I’m wasted.”
“Well, I’m drunk too, so…”
I had to find us a ride.
All the other cars were already packed full of church ladies.
There was a group of young people in the living room and they looked sober. I didn’t know who they were. Maybe kids or grandkids of all the church ladies.
I asked this one girl if she had a license and if she could drive my Jeep to church.
She looked annoyed.
“Come on. It’s a brand new Jeep. It still smells nice. It has satellite radio. There’s a porn channel. You can listen to the porn channel.”
“Gross,” she said. “I don’t wanna listen to that, but I will drive you to church if you’re really all that shit faced.”
“Well, we aren’t really shit faced, just an itty bitty wee bitty too drunk to drive, that’s all.”
“Whatever,” she said.
We all gathered in my Jeep.
The girl drove slowly.
“This is wild,” Jay said. “We’re full grown men and we have this teenage girl driving our drunk asses around.”
“I know. Teenagers are awesome,” I said.
We had glasses of wine from the party. We “cheers”ed with them.
“I’m not a fucking teenager,” our driver said. “I’m twenty five.”
There was an awkward silence.
“Teenagers are sensitive,” Jay said.
We laughed and hooted and hollered and “cheers”ed again.
“I’M NOT A FUCKING TEENAGER!” our driver kept yelling.
“Hormones,” I said.
“FUCK YOU!” she yelled.
“Stop being mean to the driver,” Bella said.
“Sorry, Bella,” Jay and I said.
I reached up front and turned on the porn channel.
A woman’s voice seeped out of the speakers. It sounded so porny. I could practically smell the lube.
“So we’re taking callers,” she said.
Jay and I started giggling.
A man’s voice came on. He sounded very southern.
“Uhh, hello,” he said.
“Hello,” the lady said. “You’ve reached Assy Ash. Would you like to tell us a good Christmasy fuck story?”
“Tell us, hon, you fuck anyone sexy this Christmas season?”
“Who baby? Who did you fuck?”
“Uhh, well, I fucked your mom.”
The Jeep was silent.
Was this really happening? Was someone prank calling the porn channel? ON CHRISTMAS EVE!
“I fucked your mom,” the guy repeated.
The lady on the radio laughed nervously.
“So you fucked my mom?”
“How was it?”
“Well, she liked it alright, I do believe.”
“Mmmm. That’s sexy,” she said.
Then she moved on to the next caller.