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Authors: Victoria Rexroth

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BOOK: A Wonderful Life
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MEN I HAVE KNOWN

 

There's this guy. His name is Steven. I've been dating him for about five years now, and he's pretty special. He treats me kindly, never raises his voice to me, makes sure I'm always happy whenever we're together, and...well, just makes me feel comfortable when I'm around him. So why is it I'm looking for someone else?

 

Oh, I'm not actively looking for somebody else. I just seem to think a lot about it. At one moment, I'm spending a quiet evening with Steven, and then next thing I know it: I'm somewhere else with the man of my dreams. Like this one time:

 

I was in Georgia, around the time of the Civil War. I was a simple country girl, and I was waiting for my man to come back from the war.  He was a union soldier, and his name was Brett; he wore one of those dazzling, blue uniforms. When I first saw him, I was on the other side of the field, and we came running towards each other, just like they do in the movies, only it wasn't a movie...it was real. When we reached each other, he grabbed me and pulled me into his arms, a real man. He would sweep me off my feet, and I would be so overwhelmed, I wouldn't know what else to do.

 

Steven...well, his idea of romance is to take me out to a movie we haven't seen yet. His idea of sweeping me off my feet is to pick a movie I've never heard of and then pop it in the VCR before I have a chance to ask him what it was. (sigh)

 

Then Brett would turn to me with those big blue eyes and say: "Sweetheart, I'm heading off to war, but I'll be coming back for you."  And then he would ride off into the sunset. It's usually such a great fantasy until he returns. (long pause) Then, without the war and the dazzle, he ends up sitting on the sofa for hours watching re-runs of Gilligan's Island asking me to fetch him another beer from the refrigerator. And then I realize I'm stuck with this ogre until death does us part. Kind of gives justified homicide a whole new meaning.

 

I guess the problem with Steven is he's not exactly...um...skilled in the...how do you say?...
intimate category
. I was his first real girlfriend, so he hasn't had a lot of experience to draw upon. Oh, I'm not saying I have either. He was my first boyfriend, too. So, I'm not some kind of slut or pervert or anything. No, but sometimes I wish he had just a bit more experience.

Like, I imagine this really suave, sophisticated man, his name is

 

Dirk
, picking me up at a nightclub. I was dancing on the other side of the room; he sees me and then sashees he way over to me. He tells me I'm beautiful, tells me how wonderful I dance and then just begins to shower me in the most sensual conversation I've ever had in my life. In this fantasy, I'm as experienced as he is, and we banter for hours, one innuendo after another until his skill at saying the right thing succeeds in saying the right thing, and then we end up back at his place.

 

The place is Hollywood itself.  The furniture is selected by the most distinguished artistes of Europe, and not a single item is out of place.  He puts on a romantic song and then the two of us dance together, sharing a drink, made just the way I like it. Oh, he knows exactly what he's doing, but so do I. We dance a tightrope of emotions and sexual prowess until we both succumb to the inevitable, and the two of us make passionate love on the satin sheets of his four poster bed. During this time, I feel both raunchy and a woman of the world. He makes me feel both of those emotions, and I both love and hate him for it at the same time. The tightrope never ends.

 

Steven, well, we once tried to make love in the woods. He kept jumping up and hearing strange sounds, so we never even got past the kissing stage.  No, adventurous is not exactly the trait I would give him.  While he's not an "in the dark" only kind of guy, he does disappoint me a lot of times with the way he seems to have no imagination.

 

Of course, there's always the
morning after
with Dirk.  He wakes me up at 6 am to tell me to get dressed and then get the fuck out of his place.  He's got things to do, other women to see, and he can't have some freeloading tramp spending time around his house when he has so many important things to do.  I'm shocked at what he says, but he's gotten what he wanted, and he doesn't need anything more from me.

I got what I wanted, too...well, sort of...but being thrown out after our night of passionate loving always makes me feel so...cheap...so cheap and used.  Yet, no matter how many times I imagine this fantasy, it always ends the same way.

 

Well, at least with Steven, he treats me with the same respect the next morning as he did the night before. That can be kind of nice when you think about it.

 

Maybe what I need is a man who is totally devoted to me, a man who will do everything in the world just for me because I mean the world to him.  He would be at my very beck and call, and he would pretty much live his entire life just to make me happy. In return, I would give him my love, and he would be even happier just for that.

 

I see him as a...Roger. 

Roger would bring me flowers every time he came to see me.  Whenever I wasn't around, he would write me long, romantic letters to tell me how much he was in love with me.  His every thought would be me, and every moment I gave him in return would fill his every day with brightness.

He would tell all of his friends that he was in love with the most beautiful woman in the world, me.  He would never tell them anything of the personal details. No, he would respect me too much for that.

When he went shopping for clothes, he would buy what he felt would please me, and when I went shopping for clothes, he wouldn't care what I bought because everything would look beautiful on me, and he would tell me that over and over. I would be his entire life, and he would be completely devoted to me.

Yes,
to me
.

 

Steven doesn't always appreciate me for the woman that I am.  Sometimes I'll spend all morning long getting ready for a date, and he will barely even notice me and my preparations.  Instead, he'll pick me up and casually mention I look good, and then it's right into date mode, but the kind of date mode you would have with your sister rather than the woman you loved.  Grrrrr.

 

I'd come home from a long day at work, and of course, Roger would have left me a message on the machine.

 

(
beep
) Hi, this is Roger.  Um, just thought I would leave you a message and let you know that I've been thinking about you all day long.  Hope you've had a good day.

 

(
beep
) Hi, it's Roger again. I guess you didn't get my last message, even though I left it over an hour ago.  Geez, don't you check your messages while you're out.  Who knows what could have happened?  I could have been run over by a goat or something, and I might be on my last breath of air. Oh, sorry. Anyway, give me a call, okay?

 

(
beep
) Yeah, Roger again.  Did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me? Call me as soon as you get home, okay?

 

(beep) Look, I don't know what I did wrong.  Was it the flowers?  Did I get the wrong kind?  I can probably return them.  Oh forget that.  I'll just get you new ones.  Call me and let me know what kind you like.

 

(
beep
) Lisa, this is Brett. I'm still waiting for that beer.

 

(
beep
) Okay, I think I see what's going on here.  You're playing a little game with me.  You're trying to see if you can drive me absolutely bonkers by not calling me back.  Well, you're doing it! If you want me to be worried, I'm worried.  If you want me to be concerned, I'm concerned.  Come on, Lisa, I don't deserve this.  I love you more than I love life itself. Call me, please.

 

(beep) Okay, maybe I went too far, but you really have me worried.  I called the police and told them that I thought maybe you drowned in your bathtub.  They said they'll check your house to see if you're okay.  I hope I haven't done anything wrong.  I'm really worried about you.  It's been two hours since I've spoken to you, and I don't know what to do.

 

(
beep
) Lisa, this is your mother. Are you still seeing Steven? Or are you still shacking up with that guy you met at the nightclub? Or are you seeing that Civil War guy. Let me know, hon...the neighbors are starting to ask questions.

 

(
beep
) All right. Maybe I overreacted.  The police called me and told me that you weren't home.  In case you don't call me in the next couple of hours, they're going to check again.  Lisa, I'm really worried about you.  Was it about the other night?  Did I do something wrong?

 

(
beep
) I hope you're proud of yourself.  I've decided that if I can't have you in my life, I don't want a life.  I finished the bottle of pills, and you can pretty much forget about getting a Christmas present this year.  At least in death I'll know that we'll see each other again one day. Bye, Lisa. I love you.

 

I've been watching him for about an hour now, him lying on the couch there where he fell asleep in front of the game he was watching.  I remember he smiled at me right before he drifted off to sleep.  It was one of those sweet moments that you can't really describe, yet they mean more than anything you can imagine.

 

Steven may not be perfect.  He may not be a suave, debonair man who devotes his entire life to me, but he's my boyfriend, and sometimes I wonder why I find myself wanting something more. I think I'm pretty lucky. And I think I'll keep him.

 

THE END

SANTA EXPOSED: DIARY OF A MAD ELF

 

There is no god.  At least that’s what Santa told me one day long ago when the two of us were alone in his workshop.  You see, I was his one good ally, the only elf he always knew he could trust, so I was the only one in which he felt he could confide.  Of course, that was before everything changed, but I guess I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here.

You see, things were bothering Santa in the later years, and he needed someone with whom he could speak.  He and Mrs. Claus didn’t always see eye to eye as Santa was a Republican and Mrs. Claus was a staunch Democrat and all, but they had also grown quite distant over the years, so they rarely spoke to each other.  At times, it was a very tense situation.  So, as you can imagine, I became his only friend.

And someone like Santa needed friends.  I mean, he wasn’t as rolly polly as everyone likes to make him seem in all the legends and stories.  That kind of crap just sells product, and Santa was most definitely a salesman.  He’d have to be if you think about it.  What other company, aside from the Church, has been around as long as Santa’s
Enterprise?  But, yes, he was overweight, and he did tend to chuckle a lot, but that didn’t mean he was a charm to be around.  Have you ever been around someone who has had a weight problem for over two thousands years and can’t seem to kick it?  I mean, how many “I’m a big boned kind of guy” comments can you take before you start to suspect that maybe he was chowing down on one too many bon-bons before the only day of the year he actually works?

No, he was a miserable old fart, and he made life quite miserable for those of us around him, even me when he was in that sort of mood.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t easy to admit.  I used to like the old guy, but there were times when you didn’t know whether or not you could trust him.  He knew everything, knew when you were good or bad, so there was no getting around him.  He was an evil, malicious old bastard who knew just how to get under your skin.  And he was just the kind of person to do just that.  You certainly don’t see Santa’s media people telling you anything about that.

Most people don’t know the origin of Santa Claus, and that’s why there’s such a misunderstanding about him.  Oh, they hear the stories of how he makes toys for all of the children of the world, and they just sort of assume that he was always making toys, that there is nothing else to his history but that.  But that’s not the case.  Most people don’t know or even suspect that there is an evil side to his origin, that he got his start in the most evil way possible.

Back then, and we’re talking several thousand years ago if this watch of mine is correct: the area known as the North Pole was indigenous to a race known as elves.  They were playful little creatures who used to play little jokes on each other and make toys for themselves with a very carefree attitude in everything they did.  And then
he
showed up.

 

“Look!” said one of the cute elves as he pointed at the strangely dressed, overweight man in red who was sitting on a large sled being pulled by eight large sled dogs.  “It’s a human.”

The other elves moved back slowly, having heard the terrible stories about humans from their relatives, yet they couldn’t help but think that there was something different about this jolly old man.  They moved forward slowly, and they were quite interested.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” said the newly arrived visitor.  “I am Nick, and I have come to live here in the North Pole.”

The elves were confused.  There was no affordable housing in the North Pole, and they were paying exorbitant rates.  They couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to move in under those sorts of conditions.

“That’s okay!” said Nick after they explained this to him.  “I don’t mind.  I am here to make toys for all of my German children.”

And that started the legacy that became Saint Nick.

 

So, like I was saying, this German guy by the name of Nick shows up claiming to be a saint or something like that.  He appeared pleasant enough, and we allowed him into our lives, and
then he offered to show us how to make our toys quicker and cheaper.  We thought he was doing a nice thing.  Well, we fell for it.  The next thing we knew, we were making toys for all of his German children.  Not being ones to complain, we kept at it for awhile until a lot of these German children started moving to foreign lands, and Saint Nick felt obligated to keep supplying them with toys, so we were forced to make more and more of them until it seemed that that was all we were doing; we had to break off our research on global warming cause we just didn’t have time for it anymore.  You see, there were no unions back then, and that guy worked us under slave conditions, always demanding more and more toys for the good little children of the world.  He didn’t seem concerned that we were tired and had no breaks; we didn’t even get any days off; oh, sure, Christmas, but that should go without saying. But all that mattered to him were those little German children who kept popping up everywhere around the world.

When his toy network began to stretch itself a bit thin, he discovered he needed a better mode of transportation to run his supplies as the sled dogs just weren’t cutting it.  That was when he hunted down the reindeer who lived near the North Pole, annexing their lands as his own and declaring them his citizens, and thus, his property.  From that moment on, fitted with aerodynamic devices, Santa had the reindeer fly him everywhere on his night, supplying the world with toys, making Santa a household name everywhere.  We, on the other hand, received nothing but pain for our efforts.  At first, it was a few random insults from the guy, but then he started to physically abuse us, punishing us if the toys weren’t built to his specifications or if they weren’t completed in a timely fashion.  We were forced to punch in every day, even though we weren’t getting paid, and if we were late or failed to report to work, the punishment was both severe and absolute.  There have been stories of elves who were never seen again once put onto Santa’s list.

It was about this time that we started to suspect that Santa wasn’t dealing with a full deck.  One day, he pulled me aside and said: “I think the other elves are planning to move against me.  You are their friend; you speak to them.  What do you think?”

I couldn’t believe he was asking me this.  Yes, I was his friend, and I was an elf, but that was the point: I was an elf.  If they
were planning to move against him, it was quite unfair of him to put me right in the middle having to choose a side.  Fortunately for him, I hadn’t actually heard anything about any conspiracies, and I told him just that.

This didn’t seem to ease his mind any.  “Let me just warn you that a move against me would be your worst possible option.”  He spoke in that thick German accent of his that hadn’t diminished any during the several thousands of years of living with us at the North Pole.  “You should always keep in mind that I am god on this planet.  There is no other before me.”

That was when I truly realized that Santa was out of his mind.  In earlier times, he showed this strange god fascination of himself.  Oh, yeah, he used to ask me who else but god would know if everyone has been naughty or nice.  Who else but god rewarded his subjects with presents and then reminded me that he, Santa, delivered presents to his children every Christmas Eve.  Therefore, he was the one and true god.

No, Santa wasn’t playing with a full deck.

 

I guess I’m not painting a very nice picture of Santa here, but it’s so hard when you’ve feared a man for so long.  I think the real problems actually started when Santa discovered the omnipotent power he yielded over the poor elves and reindeer.  It’s been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Well, Santa was a prime example of just that.  When he discovered he could control our very lives, that wasn’t good enough.  He wanted to control our minds, too.  He used to stare into our eyes one at a time and say he could sense what we were thinking, that he could tell we were planning something, that he could tell what it was if he really wanted to.  Then he’d go off on one of his tangents, and we wouldn’t see him for a couple of days until he calmed down again.

To make matters worse, Mrs. Claus was having personality problems of her own.  She was no longer satisfied with just handling clerical functions at the Pole.  She felt that as Santa’s spouse, she also shared in control of the citizens of the Pole, too.  At first, she was just a pain in the ass with all of her contradictory orders, and then she started going around doing on the spot corrections with all the elves.  It didn’t take us long to realize that she really started to enjoy making those corrections.  Then she started wearing leather and carrying a whip.  Things got really strange for the elves after that.

 

Maybe I was the only one who noticed.  I remember I was having a conversation with Rudolph one morning after Mrs. Claus made him sleep out in the cold barn all night because he got lost over France or something like that.  The story is they ended up giving out six hundred cabbage patch dolls to some religious sect in the Middle East that thought little infidels invaded it during the night.  They’re still fighting each other over that little misunderstanding.

Anyway, after being beaten and then released from the barn, Rudolph said: “Isn’t Santa and Mrs. Claus just like the coolest dudes around?”

I hated that stupid reindeer.  Sometimes I wonder why I even care in the first place.

 

You know?  Santa used to be a really nice guy.  There was a time when you could talk to him, when you could see where he was coming from.  I remember times when he used to sit me on his knee and tell me all of the things he liked about the job he was doing.  But then he started talking about those snotty little kids, how they always told him what they wanted for Christmas, as if he was put on this planet to grant their every wish.  He would get really sad and talk about how no one ever asked him if there was anything he wanted, how he was a giving kind of guy who wanted to receive just once, how it really hurt to be used by the millions and then hear people talk about him as if he was just a cartoon or legend, not a creature of flesh and blood who really cared about those he watched over from the Pole.

That was about the time he started doing the coke, and things were never the same after that.  He kept talking about how the Russians kept trying to shoot him down over their air space, about how toy manufacturers were stealing his toy ideas even before he could get them to the Christmas market, about Mrs. Claus and her strange leather outfits, about lots of things that the old Santa didn’t really care about.

He started drinking a lot at this time, too, and he was beginning to get a bit paranoid.  He would tell me about how he was convinced the reindeer were planning to run away or how the elves were going to attempt a coup of some sorts.  Every week, he came up with a new conspiracy theory about how someone was out to get him.  No one was safe around him.  He was totally out of control.  Do you know what it’s like to live under conditions like that, knowing that such a creature could lash out at your at a moment’s notice?  It’s exhausting.  I’m surprised we were able to make any toys once that started happening.

One evening, when Santa was passed out in a drunken stupor from partying all night with the reindeer, I slipped out with a couple of my elf buddies.  I hopped a plane to
New York, and I’ve been here ever since.  Sure, being an elf is kind of a draw back from time to time, but people don’t pay me much attention these days.  After all, this is New York we’re talking about.

Of course, late at night, I can feel Santa’s eyes on me, watching.  I always know he’s out there watching.  I’ve never known him to be a vengeful person, but he is all-seeing and all-knowing and that does worry me.  I hope he’ll realize I’m not his enemy; I’m just scared, and I hope I never have to see him again.

 

THE END

BOOK: A Wonderful Life
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