Wednesday, December 27

THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD: HOW TO LIE ABOUT CHRISTMAS

So, how was your Christmas? Tired of hearing that? Tired of explaining how the cat climbed the Christmas tree and knocked it over on top of your aunt, and how the kids poured the punch bowl down the laundry chute? If people insist on sticking their noses into your Christmas business, pick one of the following lies and see if they ever ask you about your holiday again.

1.

An old friend you haven’t heard from in years invites you to spend Christmas with him, on his 200-foot yacht anchored off the Florida Keys. He’s a major investment broker and all of his best clients are on board for the holiday, including Nicole Kidman, Richard Petty, and the Beach Boys. The Braes of Glenlivet send a boatload of French Oak Reserve as a Christmas present.

The party is so great that people from the Keys try to swim out to the ship, but a nasty rip current keeps the crashers at bay. You see Katie Couric clinging to a lounge chair, just before a freakish three foot swell hurls her back onto the beach.

On Christmas morning you are awakened by the Coast Guard, who are responding to noise complaints from the US Naval Station at Guantanamo. Fortunately, the anchor cable parted during the festivities and the yacht has drifted out past the three-mile limit. Unable to arrest you, the Coast Guard joins the party.

On the way back, the Coast Guard offers to race you with their cutter. Your friend has had so much to drink that he’s sneezing Egg Nog, and when he declines the Coast Guard makes chicken-clucking noises at you. So you take the helm, and totally make that cutter eat your wake.

2.

You were just about to sit down to turkey and cranberry sauce with the whole family, when you get an urgent call from your best buddy. He’s been trying to repossess Burt Reynolds’ car for six weeks with no luck, and the finance company has been slam-dancing on his butt. He’s finally located the car, parked in front of Burt’s lawyer’s house in Oakland. He wants you to drive him out there so he can nab it. He knows it’s Christmas Eve and he wouldn’t ask if you weren’t such a great friend, but damn it, he needs you.

So you and your friend head out to Oakland in your Dodge Viper. Sure enough, there’s the lawyer’s house and there’s the car: a twelve-cylinder Pagani Zonda. Even before the car comes into view you can smell the analine leather interior, and see the bottle-fly green paint job reflected in the night sky like the Aurora Borealis.

Unfortunately, there’s lots of other cars parked there, too, and an under-strength platoon of bodyguards are walking around with MAC-10 submachine guns in full view. “Don’t worry,” your friend assures you. “We’ll do this fast. Just follow me. No matter what happens or where I go, just stay on my tail lights.”

Your friend rolls out in the alleyway and jacks that Pagani right out from under their noses. As he speeds away and you pull out to follow, you can see the security guys piling into their Cadillacs, which you figure are probably armored and relatively slow. As long as you stick to the upscale residential areas they won’t be able to shoot at you very much.

So you head south out of Oakland faster than a raped ape, and you start getting the idea that the Pagani is a little too much for your friend to handle, because he's bobbing and weaving all over the road. (Later you will learn that he had to break off the wheel to jack the car, and he's trying to steer it with a pair of Vise-Grips.) Finally he misses a curve completely and goes tear-assing right through somebody's huge Christmas display. You ramp the curb and follow him, figuring that he did it on purpose to throw off your pursuers. So now you're crashing through a fake Winter Wonderland, dragging strings of lights and the lower torso of Frosty the Snowman behind you, when a life-size Santa sleigh with all twelve reindeer looms in front of you. Guiding the sleigh is a kangaroo with a blinking red Rudolph nose. You figure it's just plastic, and it's too late to swerve anyway, so you punch it.

Big mistake. The damn thing is mounted on a steel and concrete framework. You ramp five feet into the air as your undercarriage is shredded like cheese in a grater right under your butt. When you come down again all four of your tires are flat, so you sled along in the grass until enough turf piles up to bring you to a stop, leaving a forty-foot smoldering trail of oil and transmission fluid behind you.

You friend doubles back and scoops you up. Shaking the last of your pursuers, you finally roll into the repo yard, where an angry confrontation ensues between your friend, the finance company, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, and - for some reason - Mel Gibson's groundskeeper.

Just as there seems to be no hope for Peace on Earth, in walks Burt Reynolds. Burt takes full responsibility for the entire incident, apologizes to the finance company for falling behind on the payments, and he writes them out a fat check right then and there. He also promises to buy you a new Dodge Viper.

"Merry Christmas, everybody," Burt Reynolds says.

"God bless us, every one," you add, and the guys from the finance company start crying.

You all pile into the Pagani and head to Union City for pancakes. You get pulled over three times on the way, and Burt Reynolds talks the Chips out of giving you a ticket every single time.

3.

It's Christmas Eve and your relatives are due to arrive any minute, so your wife dispatches you on an emergency run for last-minute relative supplies: deodorant, Kaopectate, beer, and cheap Frothy Sputum champagne. But on the way home, while you're waiting at a stop light, two guys run out into traffic and jump into the back of your Buick. One of them sticks a gun in your ear and says, "Drive!"

You quickly calculate that you can't unbuckle your seat belt and kick their butts before they shoot you, so you drive. As you head down the road, they explain the situation to you. They are contract agents for the CIA. Top Secret intercepts have just revealed that former President Jimmy Carter is a commie-terrorist spy. They apologize and promise that they will not expose you to any more danger than is absolutely necessary, but national security demands that they commandeer you and your vehicle to drive them to Atlanta, Georgia. They have to watergate the Jimmy Carter Library and secure vital evidence.

So you drive all night to Atlanta, singing Handel's Messiah, with the CIA guys backing you up on the chorus parts. You know you sound really great, too, because everybody you pass is honking and blinking their lights at you. The beer runs out on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line, but miraculously you find a liquor store in Georgia that's open. This reminds you of the very first Christmas, when Joseph managed to find an open manger in Bethlehem. It's like history repeating itself.

A few hours before dawn you reach the Jimmy Carter Library, which looks like a UFO that crash-landed on a Greek ruin. Security is totally pathetic and you easily breach the north perimeter of the compound. Your target is the Arafat Microfiche Vault on the lower level, so one of the CIA agents kicks in a basement window with his cowboy boots and you're in like Flynn. Everything is going according to plan until you turn a corner and run face-first into a totally naked woman, who starts screaming her enormous lungs out.

As luck would have it, the General Reference staff is having an unauthorized Christmas party on the premises, complete with strippers and a brass band in Santa suits. Fortunately the CIA has professional expertise in these matters, and the agents quickly figure out a way to turn this unexpected setback to your advantage. They explain to the naked woman that the three of you are also festive librarians, who just ran out to get more Frothy Sputum. You infiltrate the party for the next several hours, while the CIA guys stuff microfiche into empty champagne cases.

As you're trying to find your car the next day, who should you run into but Jimmy Carter! Carter tells you that he is on his way out of the country for good, and he just stopped by the library to get some Chapstick he left in the restroom. The former president sadly explains that he is tired of being an outrage to decent folk everywhere, and he has decided to spend the rest of his life in Tibet, bugging the Chinese. Before he goes to Tibet, however, he plans to address a special session of the Knesset, in which he will apologize to the entire human race for being such a jerk.

You give Carter a ride to the airport, and he pays for the gas. Plus, you get a fat reimbursement from the CIA for the use of your vehicle, including a triple per diem for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You wind up making over $1500 out of the whole deal.

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