Vancouver
3 min

Christmas orgy

We all have our Dickensian stories

It was snowing; it was a toss-up between getting vitamins at Quidditas on 3rd and the Drive or nibbling on Falconetti’s sausage. Guess what I ended up doing?

Well, I needed to get in the mood anyway.

The problem is, sausages sometimes give you a case of nostalgia. Everyone gives this ‘holiday season,’ as they call it, so much meaning. I do, too.

As a child, I spent many a Christmas as the servant’s offspring being tossed pity presents while watching the children of the house be regaled in a country where December is scorching hot and syncopated Santas sweat under polyester crimson velvet and fake cotton beards.

In my adolescence, I spent Christmas in underground gay dives in a country paralyzed by military rule and curfew, where they would pack us up like sardines and close the doors at midnight to reopen them at 6 am. You know what some one hundred disco bunnies do when confined to a small space and plied with cheap alcohol, knowing men in boots outside are out to kill?

Around my first decade in Canada, I spent Christmas somewhat alone, licking my wounds. Yeah, we all have our Dickensian stories.

Now, it is my partner who every year brings the sexy back to this orgy of edibles, curios, and sentimentalism. This year it started over the top, seeing Miss Liza Minnelli come undone on stage with grace and professionalism in Richmond, of all places. Santa Claus eat your smelly stockings, you got nothing on this real life legend who still doles out her gifts!

A tough act to follow, but on the Drive you can always hang a garland of activism on any capitalistic indulgence or compulsion we have, like shopping. My friend Beth and I started an early little convoy of petty but luscious debauchery.

We went to store after store, indulging in that kind of nonsense that makes you woozy and forgetful, if only for an hour or two. On that day, we started at Attic Treasures where one teapot steeps you in memory (and debt); then on to Dream Design to be fluffed by politically correct fibres that exfoliate all guilt from your skin; then to Sonja’s Kali, an exotic world of trinkets; Urban Empire; and Dandelion, a shop for parents to indulge their needs while pretending they actually buy for their children something genderless, raceless, and amorphous that offends no one — boring but sweet.

Zigzagging we then went between Dr Vigari, where Bill always carries some interesting local artist stuff, to HighLife and Magpie, the fabulous Riot and Mintage and the Barefoot Contessa up the road.

We peeped at the gastro-porn at la Grotta Del Formaggio and Fratelli’s, and took in the idiosyncratic eye candy that is plentiful on the Drive in dedicated outlets such as Spartacus and the Brittania Centre.

After an hour or three, we finally wound up almost drunk from consumerism at Figaro’s on 3rd and Victoria Dr, where we had a blast copping a feel of the fuzzy Christmas balls. We had initially dropped by looking misguidedly for 2010 Olympics ornaments in the shape of Miga, Quatchi and Sumi. (I thought they were mascots from sponsoring pharmaceutical companies; the names could have fooled me. Don’t they sound like Norvir, Combivir, and Saquinavir from the cure dialect? It turns out that they are mascots for a different corporation, go figure!)

We ain’t no fools, we don’t actually believe the holiday season shit fantasy layered so thickly on TV, but sometimes all we can afford is reveries.

Who am I to give pity advice? Still, I write to all the lonely people out there because I was lonely and bitter and dying for years, and I know how hard it is when they wind up this carousel of sugar and noise around you and you have to look at it whether you want it or not.

Hold on to hope. No hay mal que dure cien años, ni tonto que lo aguante, we Latinos say, which means no malady lasts one hundred years, no solitude survives it.

In other words, after a rainy season, the sun will always shine — sometimes a platitude is all we have to warm up the night and see it through the next day. We are a society so scared of sadness, so cynical of tradition, a strident queer nation a bit silent.

However, we can survive worse things the commercialization of people’s anxious and somewhat self-righteous desire to be happy.

In a few days, we will be okay and ready to burden ourselves with a bunch of earnest New Year’s resolutions.

I ran into one young man who sleeps on the Drive these days with his dog, a loner addicted to heroine that I met through community work downtown.

I asked him how he manages in the cold. He said, “I manage. Every year has a winter.”

I will not be one to contest his hard-boiled logic with my underhanded beneficence. If he does not surrender to despair or sadness, why would someone over-indulged by life like me complain about others trying to be merry?

So merry to you it is, and the best year one can muster.