Your glasses seem to be devoid of glass, why?

I didn’t think you’d notice, and the frames look good on me.

 

But aren’t you the one conducting this interview?  How wouldn’t you notice?

Yes, I am interviewing me, but as you know, I often live in a world of self-delusion. Let’s move on.

 

You claim to be a demon.  How’s that going for you?

It’s better than a few other things I could claim, and fear is a tall fence. The average man finds it prudent to steer clear of demons so calling myself ‘demon’ keeps the conservatives away and boring conversation at a minimum.

 

Do you have a tail and horns?

I said I was a demon, not a goat.

 

Your memoir, An American Demon, has been filed as nonfiction in the Library of Congress.  Does this mean they acknowledge the existence of demon kind?

Well, if you’d ever seen Miracle on 34th Street, that old Christmas film, Kris Kringle’s lawyer proves that Kris is Santa Claus by submitting a letter delivered to Mr. Kringle by the U.S. Postal Service. The letter was addressed ‘To Santa,’ and nothing else. I wrote a book claiming to be a demon, and the Library of Congress filed it as ‘nonfiction,’ true as honest Abe himself.  So therefore, if the U.S. Government says it’s true, it must be — right?

 

Does this mean that any children wishing evil on their parents should write to you?

Only if they include a little something for the effort.  Unlike Santa, I don’t work for free.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a plutonium-toting, off-key singing tailgater; a rabble-rousing, Scrabble-nabber so high on grain alcohol and greenhouses gasses that he couldn’t even parkour his way across a simple thought.

Family Truth

By Summer Block

Humor

Occasionally, I am Jewish. I am Jewish when watching Woody Allen movies. I am Jewish at delis and bar mitzvahs and seders and synagogues. I am Jewish when talking to a good-looking Jewish man. But I am never Jewish at Christmas.

What do I mean? It’s simple: my father is Jewish; my mother is not. By any reasonable standard then that means that I, along with my younger sister, am half Jewish. But somewhere along the way, my family simply decided that a mixed marriage meant that half of the children would be Jewish and half not. In other words, I am Jew, and my sister is a Gentile. The most remarkable thing about this conclusion was the ease with which it was accepted by everyone.

The origins of this strange myth are easy enough to trace.  My sister is the less “Jewish-looking” of the pair, with blue eyes that inspired envy in my childhood, fair freckled skin, and a charming Muppet nose. Growing up, her hair was a glittery translucent blonde above near-invisible eyebrows. Though no one would likely mistake me for Middle Eastern, as often happens with my dark-complected father, I do bear some traces of the Semitic – darker, curlier hair, brown eyes, and a nose that, if not prominent, would still be a challenge to fashion out of felt. In temperament, too, I have always been said to favor my father, and as a young child I consciously patterned my behavior on his amiable reserve and dispassionate intellectualism, while my sister shared my mother’s open heart, ready emotions, and inexplicable comfort with hugging. Does all that mean, then, that I am Jewish and my sister is not? Of course not: obviously none of us thinks this is actually true, but still, it’s an amusing thing to believe.

As an adult, I’ve adopted a dubious new schema. Instead of representing the Jewish half of my family, I have simply decided to be Jewish about half the time.When that handsome man asks me if I’m of the tribe, I usually respond by saying “Well, my father is Jewish,” a statement that is technically true but intentionally misleading when spoken by someone who was in fact baptized as a child. In fact, I grew up attending Christian churches—albeit progressive L.A. churches, laid-back, friendly, non-judgmental places that were a lot more about acoustic guitars and drum circles and scruffy beards and singing “Kumbaya” than sending anyone to hell–but churches just the same.

So why do I lie? Some of it, no doubt, is just the desire to appear different, or interesting, or ethnic, probably stemming from my time as the only non-Latino white person in my elementary school, who when everyone else brought tamales and kimchi on Diversity Day had to content herself with scones, a weak alimentary link to a long-ago English past.

But also, I like Judaism, I find it interesting. I like reading about whether or not giraffe meat is kosher, or about mechirah, the part during Passover when you pretend to sell all your dogs to Gentiles. Now I don’t keep kosher or pretend to sell dogs personally, of course, but it’s a great concept just the same.

About ten years ago, my father began listening to the late-night radio hosts Art Bell and George Noory on the 10pm-2am show “Coast to Coast AM” and Whitley Streiber on the weekly “Dreamland” podcast. On these shows, callers report their direct experiences with the dreadful and the fabulous, while self-appointed experts (including a panoply of UFOlogists) opine on the hollow earth, alien implants, reptoids, astral projection, the Planet X, and the “coming global superstorm.” Over time, this harmless habit became a veritable obsession. My father now listens almost every night, then rises the next morning to fill my inbox with emailed links to sites advertising time machines and powerful magnetic healing devices.

Through it all, though, my father has remained as I’ve always known him to be—intelligent, rational, and bemusedly skeptical—but these traits are hard to square with his newfound enthusiasm for the Freedom of Information Act and its promised disclosure of the government’s secret Roswell files.

“Look, Dad,” I said, “I know you think all this alien stuff is funny, but do you actually believe it?”

“I believe it because it’s funny,” he said.

“Yeah, I know, but seriously, do you think all this stuff is true?”

My father looked at me and said, “You know, truth just isn’t that important to me.”

Apparently it’s not all that important to me either.  Anyone who has seen me nod appreciatively at a klezmer concert in July would be surprised to visit my home in December. Because despite any Jewish proclivities, I love Christmas. I love Christmas as much as I’ve ever loved anything, and I love every part of it, from the carols to the gingerbread. I have five labeled tubs of Christmas decorations in storage, and every year I drag them all out, then go buy a tree, design cards, hang wreaths and stockings and mistletoe, bake cookies, and make gifts by hand. I love Christmas—yes—even more than I love pretending to be Jewish.

This year my eighteen-month-old daughter is just beginning to get in on the action; she takes candy out of the Advent calendar, says the word “tree” on command, and kisses all of the Christmas ornaments individually every morning.

Recently one of my friends, a scientist, asked me whether I would tell Beatrice about Santa Claus and flying reindeer and elves at the North Pole when she was older.

Now we are a family that believes in science, in progress, in telling it as it is. We don’t use baby words for bodily functions or tell confusing bird-based myths about sexual practices – but Santa? Hell yes we’ll do Santa. We’ll do Santa like you’ve never seen.

“You don’t think it would be better to tell her the truth?” my friend asked.

“You know,” I told him, “the truth just isn’t that important to me.”

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a maleficent ex-Vegas lounge singer with an overactive middle finger that ultimately caused him to get kicked off SurvivorProject Runway, and Dancing With The Stars all in the same day.

Dear Santa,

I’ll start by admitting that I haven’t been very good this year.

I drank too much and did many things that I regret. I wished terrible things on people that I hate. I hated people. I haven’t gone to church. I haven’t given to charity. I haven’t finished my book…four years later. I have cursed and said horrible things to my wife that have made her cry. I’ve lied—many times. I have pissed away way too much money on alcohol and office supplies at Staples. I have considered sending someone a dead cat in the mail (though she did deserve it).

All in all, it’s been a banner year. A real barn burner. And that doesn’t even count my failing to find a job and thus putting all of my financial burdens on my wife.

But I’m trying, Santa. I have seen the error of my ways and I’m trying to make it to the Nice List. Ask my therapist; after $585 in co-pays, she’s seen how hard I’m working. Or at least, how hard I’m thinking about working.

So if good intentions curry any favor with you, big guy, I would like to offer you my Christmas wish list at this time:

First and foremost, I would like a high-paying full-time job: one that’s flexible enough to allow me to write, sleep in some days, have afternoon sex, and keep my present part-time job, which I like because it allows me to have lunch with my friends. I would like this job to be fulfilling and mentally invigorating, and I want to not hate myself at the end of the day when I drive home in non-rush-hour traffic.

Second, I would like a major publisher to offer me a very large advance on my first book, and a fat deal on a second book, which I’ve yet to begin writing. If you could also make both books land on The New York Times’ Bestseller List, that would be very nice of you.

Third, please make that certain someone in my life (who shall remain unnamed, but you know who she is) kick her alcohol addiction problem. Her family would really appreciate it, and at least some of them are on the Nice List.

Fourth (and I realize that I may be treading on God’s territory here, but I figured it can’t hurt to cover all my bases), please make sure that my dad makes it through his surgery and has a full recovery, and that none of the cancer comes back. Make sure my mom is healthy, too, and that both of them live very long and happy lives.

Also, I’d like a black Toyota Prius hybrid for my friend Nicki, houses in Boston and Florida for my parents to retire in, a GPS system for my wife, some new ski equipment for my sister, a spouse who won’t cheat for my friend Ben, and more time off of work (though without less pay) for my brother to spend with his daughter.

Oh, and for me, I’d also like a 24-inch iMac computer with a 3.06 GHz processor and a stable where I can ride horses for free whenever I want.

I don’t usually ask for this much, Santa, but 2008 has been one hell of a year (thus, the excessive drinking). If it helps at all, I’m already planning to leave you extra cookies and a tin of the good nut mix with extra cashews.

If you’re unable to fulfill this request, please simply leave a note in my stocking containing the winning lottery numbers and the date on which I should play said numbers, and I’ll try to take care of this list on my own.

With love to your Kris Kringled Highness,

~ Laura Waldon

 

P.S. – I realize that I forgot to thank you for the Cabbage Patch Kid you gave me in 1986. If the events of 2008 are some sort of karmic retribution for that oversight, please accept my sincerest apologies and my belated thanks.