The Whore on Christmas
Christmas is for children, and not just the Santa Claus part.
An annual celebration of the birth of a magical Caucasian superhero who protects us in life and death is clearly for the comfort of children. And the ideas that everybody can love one another, or that we will one day come together in peace and harmony, are also lies we tell children. These lies are perpetuated by a million Christmas TV specials; they're gargled by a million shiny pop stars; they're pushed at us annually by millions of merchants.
But the Christmas myth dissipates when exposed to the musk of adulthood. When childless adults swallow the myth of Christmas, or child-free environments are decorated to celebrate the holiday, it is always a sad and tragic spectacle.
Every office has at least one childless, solitary cat lady in a three-dimensional Christmas sweater who brings home-baked red-and-green cookies. They bleat inane Christmas carols, they wear idiotic Santa hats, and they admit, proudly, that they're "a little bit crazy for Christmas." These adults are annoying as hell because they refuse to let go of the auspices of childhood, and they're so full of shit, or rather the "holiday spirit," that they're despised by everyone they encounter.
There is only one way to redeem this person—let's call her "Dottie"—and convince her to put away that Christmas sweater. Dottie needs to be taken on a tour of Seattle's porn shops and bars and casinos. They're decorated for Christmas too, just like Dottie, and they're every bit as heartbreaking. No one can witness the sad displays of hollow Christmas cheer at a porn shop, for instance, and then continue down the path of yuletide fuckstickery. It could be traumatic initially, but Dottie, the Antiscrooge, will eventually hail you as a hero, the Ghost of Grown-up Reality, for saving her from the compulsion to dress like a swollen elf for a month out of every year.
Dottie's tour starts out on Aurora Avenue North, where everything is dark except for Butch's Gun Shop (7503 Aurora Ave N). There, above the hand-printed signs that read "GUNS WANTED" and "STUN Guns $19.95," is a single strand of white icicle-style lights. The combination of guns and holidays, so soon after America's annual shopping-mall massacre, should make anyone wince. Butch's likes to stock affordable weapons, and so they don't currently carry SKS rifles—the type used in the Nebraska mall shooting earlier this month—due to restrictively high prices. But you can pick up a lovely Cobra .380 ($149.95) for the wife or Hi-Point 9mm ($149.95) for junior.
Next, drag Dottie to Tukwila and its three-story sex megastore called Lovers (119 SW 148th St). Sex shops are great—we love our porn and our sex toys. But if there's anything less sexy than the sight of two large-breasted mannequins in red velvet lingerie clutching a stripper pole wrapped in gold garland—upstairs at Lovers—we haven't run across it. Downstairs, there's a male mannequin wearing a red-and-black satin smoking jacket driving a tiny sleigh pulled by four reindeer. And everywhere there are giant snowflakes, 15-inch dildos, sincere Christmas carols, and life-size fuckdolls.
By now, Dottie's probably begging for mercy. You can assure her that she'll find that White Center is alive with holiday spirit. A bar called the Locker Room (9633 16th Ave SW) has window paintings of the Grinch and a few drunken penguins. Be sure to keep a close eye on Dottie: Interpersonal relations in White Center could very well fog up her poinsettia-tinted glasses. Last weekend, I witnessed a woman taking a photo of the Grinch painting when a very drunk, very old man stumbled out of the bar. "Herrrm, why don't you take a picture of me licking your pussy?" he asked the woman. Then he wobbled backward two steps, belched, and nodded to himself—clearly, his work here was done. He staggered toward Stan's Adult Superstore (9630 16th Ave SW), a shop that sells dusty novelty items—windup masturbating monkeys, cunnilingus-enhancing dildos that strap to your chin—and whose Christmas display is limited to seven bare pine trees. It's as if someone started a Christmas display, came to his or her senses, and then wandered off.
Taboo Adult Video (9813 16th Ave SW) is a block from Stan's. Behind the counter is a row of Polaroids of people who've been bounced from the premises. One man urinated in a viewing booth. One elfish pervert was ejected for smoking. Just above this lineup is a Christmas sales display: a vibrator disguised as a candy cane; a Santa hat bedazzled with tiny, light-up erections; a vinyl "Santa's Coming!" Christmas stocking ($39.95) filled with a butt plug, edible body paint, two vibrators, anal beads, a condom lollipop, a cock ring, some lotions, a blindfold, and, curiously, a pen with Santa's head on it. Off to the side, there's a small, tasteful Christmas tree and, below it, some brightly colored packages and a copy of Barely Legal Christmas ($39.95).
Dottie can recover from that sight at Roxy's Casino Bowling Bar & Grill (2823 SW Roxbury St), which is near Taboo. At Roxy's, a paper snowman smiles below a sign that reads "MERRY CHRISTMAS CASINO" and there's some red garland. But the old women playing poker and blackjack are all wearing secondhand versions of Dottie's ugly Christmas sweaters and a wreath hangs next to the liquor license.
The Lusty Lady (1315 First Ave) in downtown Seattle is worth a visit. Below the marquee ("Dancers, Prancers & Vixens" and "Come Fill Our Stockings"), there's an animatronic Rudolph made of Christmas lights, turning his head from side to side. Below Rudolph, it's fairly common to witness groups of large, wealthy white men exiting the Lady. They tug on their pants, not quite making eye contact, and, having spilled their conquering seed, they'll spontaneously start laughing like criminal masterminds in a thriller. Above them, Rudolph's head moves back and forth in silent rebuke: "No no no no no no."
By now, Dottie should be thoroughly impressed with the bleakness of the holiday, but if, by some miracle, she's still humming "The Little Drummer Boy" to herself, there's only one option left. In Sea-Tac International Airport (17801 International Blvd), there's a display that's controversial precisely because it was intended to avoid controversy. Last year, in lieu of a Christmas tree, airport officials erected a generic "holiday" tribute. Pundits and bloggers identified Sea-Tac's holiday decorations as a battle in the "War on Christmas."
This year's Sea-Tac holiday display is painfully ugly. More than a dozen birch tree logs jut up out of a bed of flaccid cotton. Sticks are driven into the logs, and ugly wooden seagulls are impaled on the sticks. The whole thing is bathed in a morose blue and violet light. The only intelligent response to this display is the momentary consideration of suicide.
There's nothing human about an airport, and there's nothing human about Sea-Tac's holiday display, making it the ideal symbol of all those holiday lies that ought to expire with our childhoods. It may be the only honest Christmas display for adults in the entire city. Nobody can take in Sea-Tac's dead trees and impaled birds without concluding that this is not a season of joy, but of sorrow, lies, and heartbreak.
Not even Dottie.