Dec 9, 2006

In Which I Become Ridiculously Attired, But Am First Haunted by the Hungry Ghost of Perry Como

Yes, that's me in a Santa Costume. I've worn a lot of silly things in my life- a kilt, beret, a tuxedo, various capes and cloaks, an altar boy's alb, an executioner's hood, a nun's habit, pirate garb, a Boy Scout uniform, chainmail, a pith helmet, etc. But I thought that I had some sort of autobiographical immunity to ever dressing up as Santa. Hahaha! How wrong I was! Japan has seen to it that I must now "Santa Suit" to this list of Silly Things I've Worn. I was kind of hoping to give that one a pass. More on this later...

My parents have this horrible tape that they play every year. It's called Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music. This thing is awful. Pure waves of scholck and non-ironic kitsch radiate from the speakers when this thing plays. In my set of mental signifiers, the stress and travails of holiday travails are summed up nicely in the crooning cadences of Perry Como wandering through an insufferable rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Wait, what I am I saying? That's totally redunant. All renditions of The Twelve Days of Christmas are insufferable. That repetetive, banal ballad is possibly the worst song ever. Even worse than Abracadabra by the Steve Miller Band. And who really wants a bunch of lords-a-leaping anyway? And when are the twelve days of Chirstmas? Boo this song!
So, there's this Perry Como Chrstmas tape that I can't stand. I thought that being in Japan would be a good opportunity to miss out on all the things that I don't like about Japan- the family stress, the horrible songs, the consumerism, etc. I was somewhat wrong about a few of these things.
You see, they have Christmas over here in Japan. Granted, it's different than in the States, but it's still very much here. The stores and malls are decked out with red and green, there are lights everywhere, and when you walk through any public space, you can hear hideous, hideous Christmas music.
Like Perry Como.
I was in Okayama station, and suddenly noticed the music on the PA system. It was familiar- very familar. It was something that I'd heard before, something familar in a strange way. It was, of course, Perry Como singing his hideous and saccharine version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Even with a Political Science degree, I hated American cultural hegemony more then than ever at this moment. No amount of intellectualizing can match the visceral disgust of audiophonic repulsiveness making its way across the vast Pacific. (Of course, I basically owe my job to American cultural hegemony, but that's another rant.)
Why couldn't it have been Tony Bennet or Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin or somthing? Those guys were cool. They were suave, well dressed, charismatic, and smooth and stuff. If Tony or Frank or Dino belted out some kitschy Christmas music, even they could probably make it sound nifty and sexy. But no. It was Perry Como, their insufferable imitator.
I cringed as I made my way to Kurashiki.

Every year my school has a Christmas party. And, every year, some poor sap has to dress up as Santa. The students and teachers all bring a small gift (nothing more than 500 yen) and everyone puts it in a bad, and Santa (this year, me) randomly gives everyone a present.
I basically got stuck with the Santa job because I'm new and everyone else said "not it" before I could. One of my managers approached me earlier this week and told me that I would have to be Santa, and that I had be be "genki" about it. "Genki" in Japanese literally means "healthy," but it's also used to mean happy, enthusiastic, and nifty and such.
Mr. Ecaudor obligingly dressed up in a reindeer hat to help me hand out the presents, and I must say that I do belt out a damn genki "ho ho ho!"
It was fun. Lots of fun, actually. Us teachers and a bunch of the students went to karaoke afterwards, for lots of Christmas karaoke action. British Girl and I sang a duet of Fairytale of New York by the Pogues, which is basically the best Christmas song ever, but the humor, irony and slight mournfulness of the song was lost on our Japanese audience.
However, a good time was had by all, and I returned home feeling downright festive. I'm missing Christmas this year- no friends, no family- but at least I got trussed up in fake beard and silly hat for the first time.
Ho ho ho.


Eric said...

I swear to God Joe, if you make fun of the Steve Miller Band again, I'm gonna reach out and grab ya. And don't think I'm a joker, because I'll fly like an eagle and then take your money and run.

Nice beard. Of course you'd make a good Santa. You're kinda jolly and stuff. While you have your Perry Como, I'm stuck with John Denver and the Muppets. We all have our cross to bear. I just have one question that I'm sure is on everyone's mind - nun's habit?

Joseph said...

You familiar with Jingle Dogs? Sort of like Christmas music with handbells, except instead of mellifluous bells you get barking dogs and mewing cats? That's my annual dose of Christmas tackiness.

SonicLlama said...

Well, if you're ever in a production of The Sound of Music, I can gaurantee you that everyone involved- cast and crew- will try on one of the several nun's habits at some point.
Yesh, I'm familiar with jingle cats/dogs. My god, man. I have nothing but buckets upon boatloads of sympathy for you.
As for the Steve Miller Band... hey, Jet Airliner and Take the Money and Run are pretty cool songs. Anyone that can rhyme "taxes" with "facts is" earns a certain type of weird respect for me. But come on. Abracadabra and Fly Like an Eagle are two of the worst things to ever befoul classic rock radio. They're right down there with Freebird and Night Moves, you've got to give me that much.

Joseph said...

Don't forget that he also rhymnes "facts is" with "justice" and "texas". That takes a certain weird sort of chutzpah all on its own.

Colin said...

My mom read this aloud and I laughed riotously. You are well on the way to replacing Dave Barry in our family's traditional "mom reads funny stuff to us." Now, don't get some chippie named Michelle and quit writing this.