Home Movies, Part 3: Our Holiday Special: Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Revisited

Once upon a winter break during my junior year of college, my brother and I paid a visit to the home of fellow siblings Esquire and Mistress, when Mistress showed us videos of her current love interest and we yelled at Esquire to find markers and paper. Then Twist was fetched, and the five of us spent the first part of the evening sitting in a diner with our coffees and cocoas and creating weirdo Christmas cards, which somehow spawned confusion over whether Santa or Jesus was crucified:

TWIST: Santa is a Nazi. He doesn’t bring toys to Jews.
STEF: Well, I wouldn’t want to bring presents to anyone who crucified me.
TWIST: Santa wasn’t crucified!!

Too much caffeine—I was mixing up my cultural and religious icons. But never mind my ignorance. We then took our cards, drove to a nearby neighborhood, and distributed our tidings of good cheer in randos’ newspaper boxes in the freezing cold. Tragically, none of us can recall with certainty what was written in the cards. (Esquire: “I remember little from the days before smart phones.”) Mistress believes there was one referencing Strongbad (which truly indicates how long ago this was) and another featuring a poop with tinsel on it.

My brother peaced out after that excursion, but the rest of us kept the holiday spirit alive by making a movie! Of course we did; it was a required activity every time we all hung out then. Could a hangfest with no movie-making really count as a hangfest? I’d say not. Anyway, in our sole holiday special, we took on the premise of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” and made it offensive. Here, let me walk you through it…

Ebenezer Scrooge (Esquire) sits alone in his gay nightclub (i.e., my parents’ living room, where stockings were hung by the chimney with care), listening to Ace of Base’s “Cruel Summer.” He wears clothes that can only be described as the height of fashion (e.g., a $1 scarf from A.C. Moore, a silky flowered shirt that’s one size too small, and a homemade tank top with the word “HUSTLER” in iron-on letters).

“I made so much money with this place, it’s so great.” he cackles, but his mood soon darkens. “But then comes Christmas, and they all want time off and a raise—”

“Knock, knock!” someone sing-songs sassily. In enters nightclub employee Bobby Crotchet (Twist), wearing a Santa hat and yet another $1 scarf draped around his neck.

“Oh my God, Ebbie, I got you the best Christmas present!” Crotchet presents Scrooge with the 1991 Happy Holidays Barbie still in the box, as I was tortuously never allowed to play with it as a child.

Scrooge accepts the gift reluctantly. “I hope you don’t want anything back for this, because I’m just gonna, like, pawn this or something.”

Crotchet crosses his legs and laces his fingers. “Well, actually… I  was kind of wondering about a Christmas bonus.”

“Ohmigod, no. I’m completely poor. I can’t, I’m making no money—”

“Nezer.” Crotchet clasps Scrooge’s hand, his gaze imploring. “Nezer, my boyfriend is dying of AIDS.”

“And…that’s sad,” Scrooge says after a moment. “And he’ll live a very nice, happy couple of months. But I can’t.” He makes a series of excuses until Crotchet simply waves off his lies and stalks away. Once again alone, he snickers gleefully. “Christmas.”

CUT TO: Scrooge settles down for the night (in my teenage bedroom) beneath an afghan the color of a sunset, when all of a sudden, his babushka-wearing landlady (Mistress) bursts in.

“Meestah, meestah!” She shakes him awake.

“How the hell did you get into my house?” Scrooge yelps.

“I have key!” the landlady says by way of explanation. “I see fyoocha! You are visited by three ghosts!”

“Three?”

“Three!”

“Why three?!”

“To show you past, present, and fyoocha!” She waves her arms above him, like a zombie signaling an impending dream sequence.

“Ohmigod, ohmigod!” Scrooge attempts to slap away her slappers.

“Bye, meestah!” his landlady chirps brightly as she takes her leave.

Whimpering, Scrooge attempts to make himself comfortable, and for a moment, all is still. Then: a bright light (provided by the pull chain in the closet)!

“WooOOOOOooooo!” Beside Scrooge’s bed, an apparition (Twist) wearing a faux fur  Russian-esque hat, a bikini top, and a cape undulates her arms like an octopus might.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas of the Past!” the apparition announces with the voice of a weary mouse from an indistinguishable foreign country. “I will take you to see your past Christmases! WoooOOOoooooo!”

As demonstrated through an extreme close-up of lots of bouncing around, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas travel through the annals of time. They arrive in the past, which closely resembles my parent’s basement.

“Here we are in the past and now you must relive it,” the Ghost of Christmas Past tells Scrooge.

“Darling.” A beshawled pregnant woman (me) flings her arms around Scrooge, then quickly withdraws from the embrace. “Don’t crush the baby.” She gestures to her pillow stomach. “I’m pregnant. You have to marry me.”

“But I don’t love you.” Scrooge explains he loves others—particularly the members of Hanson—instead.

“You have to marry me! It’s your baby!” She gives him a few good shakes by the lapels.

“No! I like this shirt!” Scrooge yipes.

His baby mama flees, brokenhearted.

“Merry Christmas,” says the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Scrooge and the GoCP return to the present, again traveling through the ebbs of time (i.e., upstairs, through the kitchen, then down the hall) while making woo-woo time-traveling noises.

“I deposit thee!” the apparition announces, abandoning Scrooge as soon as he hits his mattress.

CUT TO: Scrooge awakens in bed with a start and assumes it’s all been a dream. He returns his head to his pillows and gets cozy once again—but then comes another flash of (closet) light.

“Hey, big boy.” The Ghost of Christmas Present (Mistress), clad in a leather jacket and a fedora, strikes a fierce hand-on-the-hip pose. “I’m here to show you how your actions now are affecting people today.”

“I’m tired.” Scrooge pulls the afghan up to his chin. “I’m going back to bed.”

Nevertheless, Scrooge finds himself suddenly at the Crotchet home, where, as the Ghost of Christmas Present explains, “these poor unfortunate souls, whom you were so cruel to, have Christmas spirit, while you have none!” This admonishment is delivered with a whap on the arm. “You got none, boy.”

The tragic scene reveals gaunt Timmy (me), curled up on the couch beneath a blanket and an eye mask, snoozing beneath his ski cap.

“Honey, I’m home,” Bobby Crotchet says softly, arriving by his lover’s side with what appears to be a British accent now.

“Bobby? Is that you?” Timmy panics. “I can’t see! I’m blind! I—”

Crotchet fixes this problem by removing Timmy’s eye mask. “I talked to Mr. Scrooge today.”

“Did he give you that raise you asked for?”

Crotchet looks away. “No. But I got you a Christmas present.”

“No!” Timmy gasps. “You shouldn’t have!” Then: “Is it the Louis Vuitton bag?”

Crotchet reaches into his Santa hat and retrieves a bottle. “I got you Excedrin. Maybe it’ll help with your AIDS.”

Timmy inspects the bottle, then lovingly glances between Bobby and the OTC meds. “You…are…my…lamb.” They tearfully embrace and exchange “I love yous.”

“Merry Christmas!” Timmy cries. “And God bless us, every—” He explodes in cartoonish coughing fit, to ill to continue, but you know the rest.

CUT TO: The spirit launches Scrooge on his bed and vanishes. Scrooge reflects on what he just saw (“That was sad. I almost shed a tear.”) and again attempts to sleep. But click! The light.

“Oh God.” Scrooge doesn’t even bother to open his eyes. “Not again.”

There stands a black-haired spirit (me), waving its arms beneath a black cape (and a scarf, natch). It’s a pretty quiet ghost, so Scrooge has gotta piece this together himself using context clues.

“Are you the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come?” he asks, and the ghost nods.

Scrooge sighs. “Do I have to stand up now?”

Again, the ghost nods, this time gesturing for him to rise.

“But I’ve moved so much in one day—”

The Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come clamps two gloved hands around his forearm and drags him from the bed to the sound of his ow ow ows.

They wind up back in the home of Bobby Crotchet (which takes place on the same stage as the nightclub). This time, Crotchet is alone, coughing and trembling beneath a blanket where Timmy once lay.

“This was Timmy’s hat.” Crotchett stares a thousand grievous miles into the striped cap in his hands. “God, I loved him so much. Now he’s dead. I bet I’m gonna die too.”

That Bobby Crotchet is a soothsayer of the highest order, because less than two seconds later, he keels over the side of the couch and sheds this silly mortal coil.

“Bobby, no!” Scrooge forgets his own terribleness and how visions work and rushes to Bobby’s side. “Oh, Ghost… Is there anything I can do?”

The Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come wordlessly signals him to follow her, and they arrive outside the door to Scrooge’s apartment just as his landlady steps out.

“Ah, Meestah Scrooge is dead,” says the landlady, providing some convenient exposition. “What an evil bad. I hated him so much!” She shuts his door with finality and stalks down the hall.

This is what breaks Scrooge. He flings himself at the feet of the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come. “No! Don’t tell me I’m dead! I can change, I can change!”

The spirit responds by enveloping him in her cape like Dracula, and in the very next scene, Scrooge awakens in his own bed, fighting that silly afghan for a good ten seconds.

“I’m alive!” he gasps. “Oh, I will—I will respect Christmas and all of its treasures! I will keep it in my heart forever! Oh, I need a cigarette. I will go and get Bob Crotchet some condoms… and Tiny Tim… Well, he’s fucked, but…maybe I can buy him a new immune system or, failing that, a vibrator or something for the butt.”

CUT TO: Scrooge is back at the club with a new lease on life, now that he has Christmas and all of its treasures in his heart forever. “I love this place, so full of the Christmas spirit now!” he says, enjoying Hanson’s cover of “What Christmas Means to Me.” “And here come my favorite people!”

Enter Bobby Crotchet (“Hiya, boss,” he says, now sounding as if from Brooklyn) and his life mate, Timmy.

“Bobby, thank you.” Scrooge picks up the Barbie his employee had given him. “This is a wonderful gift! I didn’t explain to you how much I loved it before. And I got you [a present]…. Here, condoms. And Timmy, I was going to get you a vibrator or a new immune system, and I decided that a new immune system would last you longer, so here you go.”

Scrooge passes Timmy a new immune system that looks a lot like the Ghost of Christmas Past’s fur hat.

Bobby clamps his hands over his face in astonishment. To say Timmy is shocked would be an understatement: He collapses in a heap on the floor.

“Oh, Christmas is wonderful!” Scrooge flings his arms in the sky as Bobby dives to Timmy’s side and begins administering CPR. “It’s amazing, it’s beautiful! Christmas is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!”

And so our Christmas special ends, with Twist, Esquire, and I dancing to Hanson. And that’s what Christmas means to me, my love!

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