This Just In!
By Lake Stevens, Man About Town
December 16, 2005
The Christmas Season is upon us again! Have you been bitten by the holiday shopping bug? I certainly was...at
least until a few weeks ago. Now it just seems to be causing a rash to break out all over my...well, let's just say
it's itchy, shall we?
As planned, the "wife" and I enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving at home with a few friends. (Just a tip: don't ever invite
Cheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong over unless you want your abode to turn into make-out city. Besides, what if his
testicular cancer is still contagious?) The last guest left well past 3 am and, as usual, it was The Spellings.
They always drink all the booze and are the last to go -- even the strongest hints fall on deaf ears. When Candy's
lit up, it's like trying to stop a stampeding buffalo. There's just no way around it unless you plan on getting mauled.
After I finally pushed them into their waiting car, I had my manservant, Hans, rouse The Help from their pallets so
they could remove every last stitch and trace of Harvest Time decorations. Now that Christmas had arrived, the mere
thought of pumpkin-coloured hand towels or chestnut-scented guest soaps in the downstairs loo made my skin crawl.
The Help worked straight through the next Sunday night to bedeck the halls of Casa de Lake. This year I spared no
expense and overlooked no detail -- everything had to be perfect. Animatronic reindeer and a celebrity children's
choir were installed on the lawn. Dakota Fanning looks so darling in her little muffler! The railings and mantles
are draped with holly berry, myrrh and these darling strands of drummer boy lights that play thirty of our favorite
carols. I sent a crew of Guatemalan illegals out to the San Bernardino Mountains to chop down thirteen twelve-foot
Juniper Pines. Each tree has been decorated to pay homage to one of the original colony states -- I do love
Americana, after all! The Massachusetts tree features an Old Fashioned Kennedy Christmas, complete with a nice
bottle of Cutty Sark for Teddy. The Georgia tree depicts an elaborate Gone With the Wind theme -- Rhett and
Scarlett locked forever in a passionate embrace. (I added a few slaves just give it a bit more historical accuracy).
During the decorating festivities, a few of The Help dropped from exhaustion. However, they perked right back up but
when I mentioned INS.
"And keep whistling!" I yelled. "Act like you're little elves or midgets or something -- I want rosy cheeks and button
Oh, but don't think it wasn't all noel and joy. The stress of watching The Help try to wrestle my life-sized bronze
Santa Claus statue from the third floor storage room was nearly enough to drive me to palpitations. When that
clumsy Carlos almost knocked over a Ming vase with Santa's bag of toys, I squeezed Lupita's arm so tight I
almost drew blood. Luckily, my nails had already been bitten down to the quick and she was only lightly bruised.
And with her dark Mexican skin tone, you can barely even tell.
I soon realized that such anxiety is bad for both the humor and the complexion. While I was overseeing the construction
of the life-sized nativity scene and the placement of the real sheep and camels around the babe's manger, a brilliant
idea struck, allowing my tension to momentarily dissipate. Dashing through the house to find the
"wife," I could barely contain my excitement. I finally located "her" in the sauna with her manicurist, Ling Ling.
"Darling, have your Louis Vuitton travel trunk packed right away -- we're going on a weekend shopping holiday!"
After careful consideration, we decided to head north to the City by the Bay. Desiring something romantic, something
to help spice up the old marriage, San Francisco seemed like the perfect destination. Perhaps we'd take in a bit of
wine, a round or two through the Union Square shops, perhaps a caffé at the Neiman Marcus Cafe. My skin prickled in
anticipation. Our travel agent, Gretel, booked us two first class tickets and a room at the Four Seasons.
As we exited our cab near Union Square, the "wife" instantly dashed through on-coming traffic to Ferragamo. After
two hours of indecision, "she" settled for a pair of Carla pumps and a leather shoulder bag. I snapped up a pair
of the cutest Brisbane python loafers and a new engraved money clip. Though I would absolutely die for Ferragamo,
I wanted to make this a quick stop because I knew that Neiman Marcus was hosting a Jones New York show across the
street. Would it be Giselle? Kate? Or maybe they'd dust off Linda for old times sake. She is a classic, after
all -- no matter how withered she might look.
Eager not to miss the beginning of the show, I rushed the "wife" out onto the shopper-crowded sidewalk. In our
haste, we tripped over one of those authentic San Francisco homeless people. You know the type: old army
fatigues, track marks, no teeth to speak of and a little cardboard sign that says something about "Living with
AIDS" or some such nonsense. A pit bull slept curled next to him in a thinly veiled attempt to draw sympathy -
and more pocket change - from the passersby. But did he really have to go and put the dog in a peace-sign bandana?
That's just wrong.
The "wife" stumbled over the vagrant's stump leg and twisted "her" ankle. Her Ferragamo parcels went flying and
I hurriedly picked them up, intent not to let them fall into the hands of some other derelict who might be wandering by.
"Spare some change?" He smelled like how I've imagined my Mexican pool boy's asshole must smell. And believe me,
I've imagined it. Somewhat musky, with an undertone of poverty and beans. I thought of little Miguel and how at
this moment, far away from this madness, he was probably cleaning the Gauloise Blonde butts out of my pool filter.
His naturally tan-colored hide probably beading in sweat as he labored under the hot Southern California sun. My
eyelids felt heavy as I wondered whether he was wearing those short red trunks I'd given him after my last trip to
Thailand. Miguel's rippling deltoids, his hard-- Just then, the "wife" squawked from the pavement, ruining my reverie.
"She's" always had the worst timing. Helping "her" up, I snapped at the hobo sprawled before me.
"This is why I give to the Christian Children's Fund -- at least they know well enough to stay in their own third
world country than to come to ours and beg on the streets!" The man just laughed -- can you believe he laughed at
me? I would have kicked him if it weren't for the fear of scuffing the toe of my Gucci Driver loafer on his filthy
I supported the "wife" as "she" tried to limp out of the way of the oncoming wall of shoppers. I could see that
"she" was fighting back tears, clutching "her" Ferragamo parcel tightly to "her" chest. I steered "her" slowly
toward something that was guaranteed to calm "her," toward the sparkling brick and glass façade of Neiman Marcus,
a Mecca those Muslims will never understand. Once inside I prayed that the Valentino Spring collection would
refocus "her" attention away from the homeless incident.
We were almost on top of them before we noticed the commotion in front of Neiman's. We'd been so distracted
by the filthy transient that we hadn't heard the shouting and scuffling. "Neiman Carcass!" and "No Killing
for Coats!" assaulted my ears. Giant placards depicting dreadful skinned things were thrust into my face.
Little bunnies and foxes and other rodent-type things were all a'glisten'. The "wife" buried
"her" face in "her" Hermès wrap shawl. "Make them go away!" "she" sobbed.
I quickly checked myself over -- no fur. Likewise, I gave the "wife" a once over and saw that "she",
too, was clean - at least as far as these disgusting PETA people were concerned. I had just stocked up
on all my fur needs during my last jaunt to Barneys NYC semi annual fur-bonanza and wasn't even intending
to peek at the Neiman Marcus fur salon that day. Some of the protesters sat on the ground, chained at the neck to
each other with bike U-locks. They were covered in all sorts of horrid tattoos and piercings. "Neiman
Carcass! Neiman Carcass!" they all kept screaming. How dare these people block my path! I made a menacing
gesture with the steel-tipped end of my Burberry umbrella. I knew the "wife" would need a drink once
we got inside. I could stand a little nip myself...if only to calm the nerves. And this was supposed to be
"Stand aside. Stand aside. No fur wearers here. Just harmless leather. Nothing wrong with that. It's
not like anything had to die for it. Now --let us through, let us through."
I've had run-ins with PETA before. Like the time I tried to buy into a foie gras farm in Alabama. Ashton
and Demi had said it was a no risk situation! But before I could so much as enjoy one plate of foie gras
terrine and toast points, those horrid PETA protesters showed up in front of my house waving signs with
pictures of geese strapped into what looked like S & M gear. How ridiculous is that? I failed to see the
connection. Either way, I had the LAPD over to the house faster than you can say "tazer gun."
Standing in front of Neiman's, a stretch of filthy hippies blocking my way, I became angry. This is why
American youths are falling farther and farther behind the Japanese -- they just don't know enough about their
own heritage and history. If this country wants to get ahead, everyone needs to recognize that there is
nothing shameful in partaking in one of America's great traditions. This country was founded on hunters and
trappers. Remember Davey Crockett? I bet no one showed up at his tee-pee or covered wagon or whatever waving
around some death sign. He was a hero -- just like Columbus and Jackie Kennedy.
The "wife" and I fought our way to the door. Once inside the safety of Neiman's grand entryway atrium,
bathed in the light of its three-story decorated tannenbaum, I turned back with the intention of further
taunting the mob on the other side of the glass. However, instead of the dirty, smudged PETA faces, my
gaze was held by the sight of the crowd gathered in front of Macy's display windows. I made a mental
note to stop over after the "wife" and I picked up a few lotions and had a quick liquid lunch at the Neiman Café.
Emerging several hours later, laden with gifts for ourselves, the "wife" and I made our way to take in the
Macy's window. After shoving aside many an ill-dressed fatty tourist, I had a front row view of this year's
holiday window. Expecting another Garfield or Peanuts installation, what I saw left me STUNNED.
"Darling, close your mouth," the "wife" whispered. "People might be looking."
Mouth closed or open, my shock was still the same. There in the window, held prisoner like some abandoned
Taliban fighters, were piles of puppies and kittens. Why wasn't PETA protesting this? Have they no sense
of priority? These were LIVE animals -- forced to live in a display window while spotty-faced teenagers
rapped on the glass and housewives screamed at them. The poor, innocent creatures were pawns in a cheap,
miniature train car setting to promote pet adoption at holiday time! Outrageous!
The SPCA and Humane Society always release a statement around the holidays warning shoppers not to give
in to "impulse" pet buying. Little Suzie might like playing (read: torturing) the new tabby for a few
hours on Christmas morning, but what happens when she forgets about Miss Calico or Mr. Whiskers? The
"best kitty in the whole world" will be left tied to a tree in the backyard as the buzzards swarm and
swoop overhead. Come the spring thaw, everyone remembers the puppy or kitty, still tied to the tree,
now a corpse that has to be discretely tossed over the fence for the neighbors to deal with. And don't
say that I don't know what I'm talking about --
that's what happened in the Stevens household. Why weren't those chained-together hippies over on the
Macy's side of the street making a fuss? Dead animals are already a lost cause -- PETA should be worried
about the ALIVE ones! But what can you really expect from a group whose spokeswoman could be thrown off a
ship and float to safety by virtue of her implants?
Gentle Readers, I dare say that I returned to Brentwood traumatized. So much so, that I might not even be
able to finish my holiday shopping (!) Unable to cope with even the chance that the entrance to the Beverly
Hills Neiman's hosted a similar set of riff-raff, I had Hans finish off my shopping using the Internet.
I told him to just buy all the presents for the "wife's" side of the family from The Franklin Mint and
put them in boxes from higher end department stores. Those Midwesterners would never know the difference.
I went on bed rest for several days, trying to recover enough to enjoy the season. I made a mental note
that next time the "wife" and I needed to get away for the weekend, we'd take the Concorde to Paris.
-Lake Stevens, Man About Town