A Christmas Story
December 23, 2013 § 3 Comments
I can’t remember how Katie came across that first copy of Jack Frost. I can’t even remember the year. Were we in high school? Community college? If it was community college, she would have been working at this truck stop video store just off the 5 in beautiful Castaic, California, which in addition to having the funniest selection of porn I have ever seen (it had me at “Anal Princesses”), is likely where the mutant killer snowman first caught her eye. If however it happened in high school, I have no idea. I do remember watching the VHS tape in my childhood home, so taking into account the film’s release date, our first viewing could have been anytime between 1996 and 2001, when my mom remarried and we moved from Awesometown to a still-rural part of Castaic, just a few miles up the freeway. Not very helpful. Then again, I like that those details escape me. I quite literally cannot remember my life before Jack Frost, lending a cool time immemorial quality to our fandom.
Which is to say — our fandom isn’t just about the movie itself. Don’t get me wrong, the movie itself is a cinematic achievement, as the following clips will attest:
But beyond the razor-sharp dialogue, terrifying special effects, and salacious sex scenes (“looks like Christmas came early this year!”), Jack Frost is special because Katie is special, because I have laughed more with her over the years (decades, actually) than I have with anyone. I’ve written some about our longstanding Martha Stewart fandom (fandom which precipitated my exploration, and ultimate rejection, of the term “anti-fan”) in this post, an edited version of a much longer essay written as Katie’s engagement present. The longer version is more personal, and places our Martha obsession in the appropriate context — we were taking many of the same community college classes, ran together on the cross country team, and spent much of our free time giggling about our various classroom nemeses, including one million year-old, shark-eyed, predatory English professor who had, let’s say, taken an interest in me. This last thing was actually pretty traumatic, but that just made our jokes about him funnier. Somehow references to Martha Stewart Living got woven into these proceedings, and when things got really creepy with the Dark Lord (as Katie and I half-jokingly called him), Martha’s star text functioned as an odd sort of lifeline. It gave us something to latch onto and laugh about. What can I say, Martha just fit in, which is an inside joke you probably won’t recognize (oh fine, here).
And it’s the same with Jack Frost. Our giddy declarations that fucker’s a snowman, or that I only AXED you for a smoke, and jokes about antifreeze, Snowmonton, and State Execution Transport Vehicles are actually references, however indirect, to all the serious real-life shit Katie and I have navigated since first meeting in 1993. Like the time (one of the times, jesus christ) I got my heart broken in graduate school, and Katie hopped on the next plane to Eugene so we could laugh at old episodes of Dawson’s Creek (Dawson: “Dad, will you teach me to kiss?”) and Beverly Hills, 90210 (Kelly, smelling her mom’s newborn baby: “mmm, toast!”). Or the time she called while I was living in Boston and told me she’d just gotten engaged to her now-husband Brent — after which I happy-cried for like an hour. Or the time she IM’d when I was sitting in a coffee shop in Eugene and told me she was pregnant with her first baby — after which I happy-cried for like a day. Or the times I’ve sent her deeply disturbing Christmas presents designed to gross out her husband, for lulz (I do it because I like you, Brent). Or all the times I’ve emailed her about my most recent poor life choice(s), and she’s talked me off the ledge, usually by making a Jack Frost or Martha Stewart joke.
What I’m saying is, the sort of antagonistic, or at the very least highly ambivalent, laughter that accompanies these sorts of fandoms –any fandom, really, including/especially the ones that strike non-fans as weird– are actually quite sweet, in their own way. Because ultimately, they’re about connection, shared memories, even communitas if you want to be fancy. This is even true, or maybe even especially true, when the people engaging in this sort of laughter are separated by geography. The texts we engage with ground us, and make distances seem less far. So it makes perfect sense that this Christmas eve eve, Katie and I will be simultaneously streaming Jack Frost and ichatting that shit to shreds. Frankly I can’t think of much else I’d rather do this holiday season. Well except maybe cuddle up on a couch with my family and play Dirty Unwrapped (i.e. watch The Food Network’s Unwrapped, a show that goes inside America’s food and candy factories, and yell “lol he said X” whenever host Marc Summers makes a reference that could be interpreted as sexual and/or scatological). Try it out for yourself! Because candy cane “trees,” sure.
And with that, I bid you all a merry night before night before Christmas. Later this afternoon I shall prepare a pitcher of antifreeze (pumpkin liqueur mixed with bourbon; also spoiler alert), get Katie on the ichat, and cue up Jack Frost on Netflix. It might be weird, but it is going to be perfect.