I am not one to start with a disclaimer, but this post might need one. Some people get really crazy about Religion and what should and shouldn’t be done with iconic religious figures, so let me say right now that if you are the type that gets easily offended by the inappropriate misuse of a religious figurine by an absolute moron – STOP READING THIS NOW! Otherwise enjoy and don’t say that I didn’t warn you…

 

As you get together this week and surrounded yourself with those animals that you call Dad or Mom or maybe they’re your brother, sister, or even the housekeeper serving dinner  –  remember the spirit of the Holiday Season and what it was intended to be about: The Baby Jesus! I’m not kidding – I’d like to share a little something that happened to me the year that a little plastic baby named Jesus came into my life.

I was on winter recess from college and the insurance claims company where my sister Marlene worked needed temporary help for the holidays. I wasn’t really the working type but I figured a few extra bucks couldn’t hurt, so I signed on for a few weeks.

The office was in the basement of the owner’s house and besides him and I, there were only women working in the office. They were all crazy, but of particular note was the Office Manager, Kim. She was nuts and I do say that a lot about people, but with her it was actually true. She was dating my brother Angelo and if there was ever a person that should have been force-medicated because she was oh so crazy – it was Kim. She was a nice girl and all and no offense to my brother, but there was something really wrong with the water in that well if you know what I mean. Something was off and this is coming from a person that is a little “off.” If I know one thing for sure when I see it – it’s another crazy person and that bitch made me seem like a calm breeze. More about her later.

The office was about twenty minutes away from our house and Marlene and I had just left work and were heading home. We were driving along talking about nonsense as usual when I looked out the window and saw it. It was dark out and partially concealed, but I could see clear as day. They don’t call me Eagle Eye for nothing. (OK, no one actually calls me Eagle Eye, but what a cool nickname that would be – right?) I started screaming “Stop the car – Stop the car right now!!!” and Marlene swerved to the right, cut someone off and slammed on her brakes landing her hooptie halfway up the curb. I bolted out and ran down the sidewalk and as quick as a bunny I was back in the car cradling two plastic Baby Jesus figurines from a lawn manger. They were both life-size and in perfect condition, but one was painted to look like a real baby and the other was completely white – like a poor little albino Baby Jesus. I just knew in my soul that he wasn’t painted to remind me of the hardships and sacrifices in life and to remind me to give back and think of others…Or maybe the factory it came from ran out of flesh colored paint, which is far more likely.

It was January and Christmas was over, but someone had disgracefully thrown the Baby Jesus into the trash pile. Is it Baby Jesuses? Or is it like “The Gift of the Magi” and they’re called the Baby Jesi if there are more than one? Either way – You don’t do that! Just like with the disposal of a damaged American Flag, there is a certain protocol for the disposal of religious figurines. I am not sure exactly what that protocol is and Father John has been ignoring my calls since my Stigmata scare turned out to be a false alarm (OK, maybe I jumped the gun a little and got a little nervous…but it sure seemed like Stigmata to me) a few months ago but I knew that it wasn’t supposed to be in a heap of garbage and my Catholic guilt couldn’t let the Baby Jesus go out like that.

I was trying to buckle the Baby Jesus and his albino twin into their seatbelts in the back (Don’t roll your eyes, obviously, I didn’t know I would be picking up two babies or we would have brought car seats – sometimes life throws a curveball at you and you gotta duck) when Marlene went all kinds of crazy on me.

“Are you kidding? You almost got us into an accident to pick those fucking plastic dolls out of someone’s garbage – what’s wrong with you?”

“Lower your voice right now! They can hear every word your saying and they’ve been through a lot! I whispered back at her harshly.”

“What are you even going to do with those? Why did you take them out of the garbage Fred Sanford?”

Me in the Red Sweatshirt and Marlene in the Robe

“I guess that makes you Lamont then…DUNT DUNT DUNNIT…” and with that we were laughing and heading home. If you’re reading this and don’t know the theme song to Sanford & Son call your mother right now and tell her that I said that you were raised by animals! Then go to Best Buy immediately and get the Season DVD sets because that show is hysterical!

In actuality, I think Marlene was more annoyed at herself than me for stopping the car. Usually, her ninja-like reflexes kick in when she stops the car short and this time they just didn’t. In case I failed to mention this before, Marlene thinks she’s Curtis Sliwa in the Long Island Chapter of the Guardian Angels.

All she needs is a red beret and Marlene is can be an official Guardian Angel!

She’s got a baseball bat in her trunk at all times just in case something happens; all she needs is a red beret. True as I am typing here, one night she and I saw a kid getting jumped on the street by four other guys. She stopped her car in the middle of the road, popped the trunk, got her baseball bat out of it and went running down the sidewalk faster than TJ Hooker after a suspect.  As she was out there, I did what any sensible person would do – I screamed like a little girl and then dove into the driver’s seat, rolled up all the windows, locked the doors and slipped that mother into drive to get the hell out of there. I was carrying on like someone was chasing me in a Scream mask and figured it was every man for him or herself. Sister or no sister – out there on the streets – you’re on your own! Unbelievable as that was, she chased four guys away and when she helped the guy that got jumped up off the ground – he actually started yelling at her that he could have taken them. That’s when Florence Nightingale herself told him she hoped they came back and kicked the shit out of him again – she’s all heart that one.

So as we drove towards home with the babies safely tucked into the back seat – there was almost an explosion in the car. Like the stick of dynamite that went off on that cold Thanksgiving night when I drank half a gallon of apple juice – Marlene was in gastric distress. Believe it or not – this time there was severe stomach pains, sweating, cramps and a 98.6% chance of someone shitting their pants in the car and it wasn’t me! That’s what we call dramatic irony folks!

All of a sudden, Marlene shot across the highway and made a break for it down a side street. Kim, the crazy Office Manager that my brother Angelo was dating, lived close to where we were stuck in traffic so she headed that way. Kim lived in a basement apartment on a very busy street and as we pulled up in front of it, Marlene just slammed on the brakes and ran towards Kim’s door. This wouldn’t have been a big deal except for the fact that she almost got hit by at least two passing cars as she got out because she stopped short in the middle of the street. The car in back of us almost rammed us along with the cars screeching to a halt and lining up in back of his car. I got out of the car and tried to explain to the driver holding his horn down and cursing at me that she was having bad stomach pains and then just as I got to his window and tried to apologize, he leaned out and started screaming “Move that fucking car right now you Asshole!” Well, excuse me for trying to let you know what happened sir! I finally got the car out of the street and as I parked – it came to me like a vision: I knew exactly why the Baby Jesus had been brought into my life that cold dark night…

Do not ask me what possessed me over those next few moments, but I can still see it playing out in my mind’s eye in slow motion. When I got out of the car, I unbuckled the painted Baby Jesus, took off my jacket and wrapped it around him and I went running off into the night like a flash of lighting.

By some Christmas miracle, Marlene actually made it into Kim’s bathroom seconds before shitting her pants. I guess abandoning the car in traffic was a good strategy because she got there right in the nick of time. She ran in and went straight into Kim’s bathroom leaving the front door half open. Kim was on the telephone with my brother Angelo making plans to meet up later that night as Marlene bypassed any form of small talk.

Like a SWAT team busting up a meth lab, I kicked that half-opened door and came crashing through. I was cradling the wrapped-up Baby Jesus and hunched over so that you couldn’t really tell what I was holding as I burst into the room. I started screaming at the top of my lungs “KIM, KIM, – OH MY GOD KIM– THERE’S A DEAD BABY ON THE FRONT LAWN! THERE’S A DEAD BABY – CALL 911 – THERE’S A DEAD BABYYYYYYYYYY!!!” and with that, I thrust the Baby Jesus right up into her face as I was screaming.

The look of surprise, fear and confusion on her face was such that it will forever be embedded in my memory like a tattoo. As I went in screaming at the top of my lungs, it was loud; possibly a little louder than I should have screamed, as I think about it in hindsight. Kim was normally a very nervous person and a little on edge, but screaming frightened her… As I went rushing in like I was on fire, she threw the cordless phone (with Angelo still on the line) and immediately started screaming and freaking out, I mean FREAKING THE FUCK OUT! She was running around in circles crying and screaming and throwing her arms around. When I pushed it all up in her grill and she came face-to-face with the frightened Baby Jesus, she actually swung at it to get it away from her as she threw herself to the floor and collapsed into a heap. It might not have been as bad if immediately after she hit the ground, the Baby Jesus landed on top of her and then rolled off and settled right next to her on the ground staring up into her hysterical crying face.

It was so low as she talked that it was like a little squeak in between her wheezing at first…”ge… ge… ge”  “get” ”get out” “GET OUT” “GET THE FUCK OUT!!!!” as she tried to crawl towards the telephone that my brother was screaming through “WHO THE FUCK IS IN THE HOUSE…WHAT HAPPENED?…WHAT’S GOING ON?…I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU IF YOU TOUCH HER!…WHO’S THERE?” (He said later he thought she had been assaulted or attacked for sure with the way she was screaming and it happened so fast that he didn’t know if he should get into the car and head over or stay on the line.)

I would like to tell you that I was a mature person and sense finally came over me during her outbreaks and then subsequent breakdown immediately following my entrance, but alas that isn’t me…As she was alternately screaming, crying, and crawling towards the phone to try and recount to Angelo what had just occurred…I was crying laughing and on the floor trying not to pee my pants. I guess in hindsight I can see how she might not have thought it was funny, but in the moment – I really thought she might laugh at the absurdity of it all. Not the case.

As she tried to talk into the receiver it was a mess…”The…Baby…The Baby…Dead Baby…the Baby Jesus is in my house…” of course it made me laugh even harder and Angelo was trying to decipher what the hell she was talking about. She was then up on her feet screaming at me to get out again and calling me every curse in the book, heavy breathing/gasping for air, and still crying while my brother started screaming again “IS SOMEONE IN THE HOUSE?…WHO’S THERE?…WHAT BABY? TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED!” as she threw me out the door. If she could have mustered the strength – she might have punched me in the face.

As I tried to stop laughing in her driveway and wipe the tears from my eyes, I realized that my jacket was still either wrapped around the Baby Jesus or on the floor where he and Kim hit the ground – and the car keys were tucked in the pocket of the jacket. There was absolutely no way that I could go back into that house without getting a serious beating (maybe deservedly so, I’ll give her that) so I sat out on the hood of the car waiting for Marlene.

Marlene came out of the bathroom and found Kim slumped in a pile on the living room floor crying into the phone and still not being able to explain fully what had happened to Angelo. She saw the Baby Jesus staring up at her from the living room floor and realized that the screaming and banging that she heard earlier was from me. She didn’t need to ask, but could pretty much piece together the events of the last few minutes in her mind and just walked out the door.

She came out to find me shivering from the cold but still laughing and then she got my jacket and we got back into the car. “Hey, do you think she’s going to give me back the Baby Jesus?” I asked trying to be serious and she just looked at me. “I can’t even right now…What the fuck is wrong with you?” she said and then we just busted out laughing…

As funny as Kim never found the incident and probably still doesn’t all these years later – Angelo tried not to laugh but he never heard the end of it from her. Needless to say, she was afraid to be alone there and he had to sleep over to calm her down because she was crying hysterically for hours.

The following Monday, she wouldn’t talk to me at work (OK, so maybe she had a right to be mad – I’ll give her that) and so I told her that I would “make it up to her” and go out to start her car and put the heat on for her as we were all getting ready to leave for the day. I went out and then came back to get Marlene. We got into our car, which wasn’t running and the windows were all rolled down. As I held my finger to my lips and told her not to say a word – I counted to about five before we heard Kim screaming at the top of her lungs out into the dark of night: “OH MY GOD – THE BABY JESUS IS IN MY CAR…WAAAAHHHH!!!” She started crying again and we got the hell out of there because I knew she would beat the shit out of me this time. As funny as she didn’t find it the first time, me putting the albino Baby Jesus in her car in a dark parking lot which scared her for a second time was worse. We didn’t even make it into the front door of our house before she had called my brother hysterical crying about the Baby Jesus again. He looked at me and Marlene and said “Enough with the Baby Jesus – How many of them do you even have?” and then he busted out laughing realizing how silly it sounded out loud…

I guess since time has passed I realize that it probably wasn’t something to joke about and it might have come across as mean…but it really was funny. She collapsed quicker than a Jenga game and I have never heard someone cry like that before or since. For the record, she never did give either Baby Jesus back to me.

I realize this might not be the Baby Jesus story you tell while sitting around your Christmas tree, but not a Christmas goes by that I don’t think about it and repeat around mine. I’m pretty sure not a Christmas goes by that Kim doesn’t think about it either…I imagine that if things had worked out between Angelo and Kim I might have grown to feel bad about it or been made to stop repeating this story, but like I said – she was crazy and they broke up – so here you go!

Happy Holidays to you and to all of the people in your life that would scare the shit out of you with a plastic Baby Jesus.

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