W347: Whack at Wonderland

I am an unabashed fan of Teh Portly Dyke and her writing. She wrote two posts that I intend to cherish during the holidays for the rest of my life. I include them below in their entirety, but please visit the sources at Teh Portly Dyke and Shakesville. They follow.
A Portly True Christmas Story
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Once upon a time, I knew this rather interesting lesbian couple.

They were both daughters of Christian preachers from very strict denominations (must be something in the communion wafers).

They were both very active politically -- they were leaders in the lesbian-community where I lived, espousing extremely progressive, queer-positive, feminist values, fighting all sorts of -isms in that hands-on way that I admire, and both were slightly older than I at a time when a few years seemed to make more difference than it does to me now.

One of them was what might be termed a "nice girl" -- a quality which can be very comforting and appealing, but which she had realized was actually only 25% natural to her -- the other 75% having resulted from ingrained cultural entrainment as a "preacher's kid".

Her therapist (we all had therapists in those days) had suggested that she start exercising the muscles of her "bad girl", in order to come into balance, and the therapist challenged her to do three "bad girl" things before the end of the year.

One of these "bad girl" things is the story I'm about to tell.

A few days before Christmas, Nice Girl approached me and my (then) lover and asked for our assistance in her current bad-girl project. She (preacher's kid) and her partner (also preacher's kid) had devised a scheme for bad-girl action, but they needed accomplices. My lover and I were both more of the 75% bad/25% nice-girl persuasion, so of course we said yes.

This was the plan:

She and her partner would dress in full angelic regalia (white chintz gowns, tinsel-wrapped halos, and gauzy wings), and we would drive around to various outdoor locations which they had already scouted, where we would perform bad-girl feminist "actions". They needed a driver (since their gowns were all flowy and shit and possibly gas-pedal impeding), and a photographer -- which is were my lover and I came in.

I volunteered to drive, since I'm fairly clueless with a camera.

Once it was fully dark on Christmas Eve, we set out in a foreign make compact station wagon, I at the wheel, my lover in the passenger seat, and the two angels crammed in the back, their wire halos bumping the ceiling, with their stash of "action" supplies awkwardly stacked between them. The two soon-to-be bad girls guided us through the streets to the proposed site of our first action -- a full on, nearly life-sized plastic creche arrangement on a well-lit front lawn.

I must say, I was a bit daunted. The house lights indicated that someone was probably home, and the lawn dazzled with lights of the twinkly/Christmasy persuasion in addition to a very prominent halogen streetlight on the corner of the property. As we passed, I slowed down in what I hoped would be a convincing mimicry of "just out to see the decorations", and then pulled down the block a bit, where I parked in the shadows.

In my best film-noir mode, I adjusted the rear-view so that I could see both of the angels in the back seat and said, authoritatively: "OK. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to circle the block again, and get a better look at whether they're home, and if so, whether they're in the front room or anywhere they can see us easily. If it's clear, you two jump out, do the action and get your asses back to the car. THEN we circle the block once more and if no one's on the lawn because they heard or saw us, we snap the photo. Got it?"

Peering into the rear-view, I saw Nice Girl's eyes widen in awe. "You've done this before . . . . "

Well, no, actually, not exactly this, but I had done things like this before. I bit my cheek to keep from laughing. She just looked so earnest.

We proceeded with the plan. Drove around the block. Two very jittery angels jump out, do the action, plummet back toward the vehicle, and jump in -- then we circle and get the picture. I think we hit about ten nativity scenes that night, including one on the street which was most infamous for its XDX (Xmas Decoration Xcess -- you know -- the street that every town/city has, whimsically called "Wonderland" or "Candy Cane Lane" or "Festival of Lights"?) .

And when we were through, this is the earth-shatteringly bad thing we had done:

We then retired to their cozy manse for hot-chocolate.

You're scared of me now, aren't you.

This was posted last year, but I just read it this morning as a link within this next post. The following is a story I have never heard, but it is so fitting on a blog for the sustainability crowd. I won't say any more . . . Enjoy.

What the Poop, For Real
posted by PortlyDyke | Saturday, December 13, 2008

I've been trying to think of a way that I might contribute to Petulant's War in Defense of Christmas, but as a pagan dyke with no boxes of shiny glitteryness at hand, I found myself at a loss.

'Twas then that I stumbled upon a seasonal decoration that I felt I could really get behind -- a time-honored Xmas tradition from romantic Catalonia. The Caganer:

"The caganer is a particular feature of modern Catalan nativity scenes . . . . . Accompanying Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Shepherds and company, the caganer is often tucked away in a corner of the model, typically nowhere near the manger scene. There is a good reason for his obscure position in the display, for "caganer" translates from Catalan to English as "pooper", and that is exactly what this little statue is doing — defecating." ~ Wikipedia

The "possible reasons for placing a man who in the act of excreting waste in a scene which is widely considered holy", are listed at Wikipedia in this order (emphasis mine):

  • Tradition.
  • Perceived humor.
  • Finding the Caganer is a fun game, especially for children.
  • The Caganer, by creating feces, is fertilizing the Earth. However, this is probably an a posteriori explanation, and few cite this reason for including the Caganer in the Nativity scene. (posteriori -- tee-hee)
  • The Caganer represents the equality of all people: regardless of status, race, or gender, everyone defecates.
  • Increased naturalism of an otherwise archetypal (thus idealised) story, so that it is more believable, taken literally and seriously.
  • The idea that God will manifest her/himself when s/he is ready, without regard for whether we human beings are ready or not.
  • The caganer reinforces that the infant Jesus is God in human form, with all that being human implies.
I absolutely treasure those last five justifications -- I can just see the first joker to sneak a squatting shitter into the creche scene, hauled in front of the local the bishopric, babbling away:

"But . . . . but . . . . . I was struck by the Spirit! Baby Jesus came to me while I was taking a crap and said -- 'I, too, shat'!!"

Yeah. Right. And this little prank that I pulled was a devout tribute to the Lord's fully-God-fully-human nature that implies that gender and sex are irrelevant. Uh-huh.

So, as we count down the next 12 shopping shitting days 'til Christmas, I'll be posting your "Daily Caganer" -- because it turns out that there are kajillions of different variations on the classic Catalonia Caca-phonist.

Daily Caganer! Watch for it! A Shakesville Exclusive! Brought to you by PortlyDyke.

(No need to thank me. Just doing my part to brighten the season.)

I can't remember a post from PD I didn't enjoy reading. Even when the topic is tragic, I can enjoy the depth and sensitivity this woman brings to the writing.

As a child I loved being the one to set up our family creche each year. One of my earliest memories as a toddler was under the tree, in the glow of the colored lights, lying on the fake cotton snow playing with the little nativity and other little baubles. My mother recently bequeathed my son with the family creche because he too was in charge of setting it up each year at her home (when I was an absentee parent in school at Cornell.) But, it has been many years since I participated in playing with the xmas props. And I know I will never look at a nativity set the same - ever again.

Sir Photo montage from Teh Portly Dyke post To Sir With Love

Update: Source for caganers

No comments: