Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Twelve Drunk Santas

This is a dangerous time of year, these last weeks before Christmas, for it is the time of year when Santas run amok. Alone, they’re fairly harmless, but when they get drunk and form packs, there’s no telling what they’ll do. If you think I’m exaggerating, let me tell you that two years ago last Saturday a gang of them kidnapped me. Now this may sound rather jolly, part frat-house foolery, part fairy tale, like doing tequila shots with the seven dwarfs, or getting a lap dance from the Easter Bunny. Let me assure you it was not.

I was at Jordan’s office Christmas party at Bruno’s in the Mission. My friend Andrew had decided to come along as well, but he arrived without having had dinner, so we decided to get him a burrito. Jordan, who is always ravenous, wanted one too. When we got back to Bruno’s, a long white limo was parked outside. Santas piled out, including a lady Santa, who was particularly drunk. “Come for a ride with us!” they all chortled. I was torn. I wanted to deliver the burrito but the prospect of a Christmas joyride was too difficult to resist. “Maybe just round the block,” I said.

We piled in with the soused Santas, and in no time I found a glass of champagne in my hand and the outside world seemed much less significant, the way it does from a limo. We glided along, sipping our champagne while the Santas belted out amusing renditions of Christmas carols (“Joy to the world,/The Lord has gum”). A block slid by, then two.
“Turn around,” I said.
“We can’t turn around!” a Santa told me. I begged Andrew for help but he was having too much of a good time (a teetotal Buddhist, he wasn’t used to the champagne). He had decided to stay in the limo, come what may.
“Drop me off here then,” I said, resigning myself to a long walk back.
“Can’t stop!” they shouted. I asked where we were going but no one replied. I would have flung myself out at a stoplight but a particularly bulky Santa blocked my exit.

Tears filled my eyes. At that time I often went out drinking and stayed out until dawn. I couldn’t get a job, couldn’t sell my book, but I did know where all the parties were and exactly how much I could drink without being sick. My life was careening out of control, I felt in that moment. My life was a limo full of drunk Santas. And then it got worse.
“We’re going to the Marina!” they yelled. I gasped with horror. The only thing worse than being kidnapped by a bunch of drunk Santas was being kidnapped by a bunch of drunk Santas and driven to the Marina. The Marina, as locals know, is the LA of San Francisco, inhabited by women with ironed-straight hair and perfect pedicures, and by men in khaki pants who drive SUVs. The Marina is a terrible place. I would rather be taken to the North Pole.

I took a deep breath. “LET ME OUT!” I yelled. The limo screeched to a halt and every one of the Santas turned to look at me. They all had the same hurt, disappointed look, a look that said I wouldn’t be getting anything in my stocking that year.
“Let her out then,” one said huffily and I climbed over the mountainous Santa in my way and squeezed out the door, into the rainy winter night, a couple of miles from the Mission. I had a long way to go but I still had Jordan’s burrito, only slightly squashed, and I was free.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dinner Parties and Darwin

As everyone knows, sublimated libido is the engine of social life. It is for this reason that the traditional salon worked so well: the male guests channeled their frustrated desire for the hostess into sparkling conversation with each other. Thus when throwing a party, you should always invite people who are sexually unsatisfied—in other words, single people. Single people create what I call “Single Person Energy,” the magic ingredient in any successful soiree.

The phenomenon of “SPE” has a simple Darwinian explanation. People who are trying to get laid become funnier and more interesting. Thus singles sparkle in a way that most couples do not. (Sadly, many people lose their luster once they find a mate.)

But here is the magic of SPE: it doesn’t matter if the pursuit of sex is real or hypothetical. Even if they aren’t attracted to each other, your single guests will make each other more animated. The couples present are not trying to seduce your single guests (although in San Francisco, anything is possible). Nonetheless the presence of the singles will make the couples more convivial. Single people seem to induce a sexual competitiveness, a kind of biological reflex, making everyone burn a little brighter, drink a little more, stay a little later.

As bay leaves are to gumbo, so are single people to parties: you throw them in and let them simmer away, adding their savor. Just as you take out the bay leaves and put them on the side of your plate, so at the end of the party, you put the singletons in taxis. Of course, occasionally two of your singletons may hook up. While happy for them, this is sad for you. Then they may become another boring couple, and worse, yet, they may move to the suburbs.