(Background on the Christmas Letter Files here. Yes, I actually sent all these letters to family and friends over the years. They’re fake summaries of a life I never lived, about relatives and pets I never had.)
To our fellow travelers toward harmonic convergence: Ho ho ho!
I’ll get to the point: Mindy Mankiewicz has changed our lives. You must all meet her. Mindy is a KMart clerk and trance-channeller for Xolchzxtl, who was an Aztec manicurist in pre-Columbian Acapulco. Through past-life regression therapy she has revealed these truths to us:
In a past life I was an early hominid, “Uuh,” whose fossilized teeth the Leakeys recently unearthed in East Africa. I was later Mary Magdalene, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Emperor Hirohito. Paul’s former selves include Porcinus, a Roman Senator poisoned for dallying with Nero’s favorite gladiator. (That’s why Paul gags when I serve Spam piccata — an ancient, fatal meal haunts him still.) He was also Mary Magdalene and “Hoss” from Bonanza. Janie’s regression proved most startling: along with Mary Magdalene and the thoroughbred champion, Secretariat, she was Guinevere Blackstar, offspring of Henry VIII and a space alien named λ∗δεφ=ξψζ (pronounced “Muffy”). Janie’s messages to Buckingham Palace — “Kiss off, Liz, the throne is mine!” — remain unanswered.
On other fronts, we were standing tall this summer when Jimmy, our capital-P Patriot, testified to Congress about the coup in Carta Blanca. He was “Commander Bravo,” the mystery witness wearing the brown paper bag on his head and the “No Fat Chicks” T-shirt. He related how he and comrades-in-adventure “Raging Stallion” and “Captain Macho” (Timmy Goldfarb and Luis O’Malley — remember them from Central High?) pulled the infamous “pinata caper” that dumped pigeon guano on the Russian ambassador. We are proud, proud, proud! Of course, “Stallion” and “Macho” face gruesome deaths if their identities become public, so don’t anyone blab their names to the Washington Post.
Violet (aka Sister Mary Pectoralis) is home. Her stay with the Sisters of the Bench Press came to an abrupt end during the Pontiff’s visit, following a mishap during the papal mass at Dodger Stadium. During Vi’s liturgical dance, an aerobics routine (“Just a Closer Squat With Thee”), her hand weights slipped, flew across the sanctuary, and pegged three archbishops dead on. They went down like bowling pins. The Reverend Mother Schwarzenegger shipped Vi home that night.
What now for the family? For Paul, it’s telephone sales, offering volume discounts on the 50,000 “Trump for President” buttons we bought last spring. We have to recoup our stock market losses somehow. (We should have been suspicious when our broker told us to send his commission checks to No. 04425-J, Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. But how were we to know that when he said he had “inside information,” he meant he was Bernie Madoff’s cellmate?)
For me, it’s Panting Petticoats, the torrid sequel to Sin’s Savage Sweat. Your preview:
Ravagingly beautiful in the dying light, wind whipping her auburn eyes, hair ablaze, Shane DuMain McLane stared wistfully down from her office atop the Empire State Building. She had it all, which was a huge amount. The life-and-death decisions she made as CEO of Felicity Lingerie; the power she held, which made her tremble — and men beg; her formula for McLaneium, the superconducting fabric that cured ichthyopiliosis; her innocent French lover, Khalid, who must never know that the Paris fashion show had been her cover for a secret government mission; where would it all end?
She gazed at the portrait on the wall: Felicity DuMain, Belle of Savannah, corset mogul, Union Army secret agent. Shane had inherited her great-great grandmother’s pluck, and her knack for undergarments and espionage.
Yet Shane was a haunted woman. The Tragedy tormented her dreams… the final fence of the Grand National Steeplechase… her beloved stallion, Hedge Fund… a misstep… flailing hooves as the brave horse spun like a berserk Mary Lou Retton to avoid crushing Shane… a gallant goodbye whinny as his head lay cradled in her arms… the Queen placing the winner’s wreath across the shrouded lump on the track… Shane awoke screaming night after night, soggy with sweat — savage sweat.
Her reverie exploded with a crash of her office door.
“Shane. The formula. I must have it.” Brandon Chase, smoldering, igneous, advanced toward her.
“Never,” Shane gasped. “You’ll have to have me instead.”
She threw him across her desk, mad with passion. Oh, how she hated him! The longing, oh, the ecstasy… no, that was just a pencil jabbing her in the side…
The intercom buzzed. “Miss DuMain McLane,” her secretary repeated. “Telephone, line two. It’s the President.”
‘Til next year —
Meg, Paul, and kids