Often, DC between November 1st (the day 60% of the establishments in Metro DC start playing Christmas music nonstop), and January 5th (when the last of the New Year’s hangovers are finally gone) can be a massive vortex of impatience and entitlement which in no way resembles the touted “Spirit of Christmas.” People get so caught up in the holiday to-do list that they miss out on all but a few moments in what could be a month of magical comings and goings.
I was spending Christmas 2008 with friends in the area, and I had one gift left to get, a John McCain action figure, a consolation prize for a fairly conservative friend of mine, who happened to collect action figures. But, between the election being over and Christmas being days away the only place to get one was at a Borders® about an hour and fifteen minutes worth of transit riding away. On the plus side, I had just picked up Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris, so at least I would be entertained.
Borders® was swarming with bodies, bags, books and egos. In contradistinction to almost every other trip to a bookstore I got my action figure and headed directly for the checkout line. Settling in for what promised to be about 20-50 minutes of waiting, I listened to the grumblings and rants of my fellow line dwellers for a minute or two before withdrawing my book from my bag and picked up reading “The Santaland Diaries,” where I’d left off on the bus.
Almost instantly I was chuckling quietly, but very quickly my quiet chuckles became barely containable full on laughter. My line mates stole glances at me, I assume to figure out if I was genuinely amused by the book, or an unbalanced young man freefalling into Christmas induced madness. After deciding that I was unlikely to erupt in rage at normal interaction, a decidedly experienced and slightly worn-down looking soccer mom inquired, “Seriously, what’s so funny?”
I gave a quick summary, “It’s about one man’s hilariously intense time as a Santaland elf in Macy’s New York.”
“I could go for a laugh…”
“Same here,” said another shopper.
“Um…Okay,” I replied. I flipped a page or two back, and started reading at the point where the narrator sets up his interview to become an elf:
The woman at Macy's asked, "Would you be interested in full-time elf or evening and weekend elf?"
I said, "Full-time elf."
I have an appointment next Wednesday at noon.
I am a thirty-three-year-old man applying for a job as an elf (p4).
I continued reading uninterrupted for minutes as my growing audience of queued shoppers laughed along with me. When I paused to ensure I wasn’t annoying people, I was surprised to see that many of the people within the sound of my voice were listening intently, some going as far as shushing others.
In what I consider to be the best line waiting experience I’ve ever had, a dozen or so strangers and I passed an absurdly long Christmas line wait, being highly entertained by the words of David Sedaris. And, I thought to myself, I’d like to do that for someone someday.
I’m Morris DuBose, and that’s one of the reasons I write.