Friday, December 12, 2008

Dear Santaland Diary,

Usually at this time of year, I like to sit in a comfortable chair and re-read one of my favorite short stories, David Sedaris's "Santaland Diaries." The setting: a winter wonderland at Macy's. The players: demented Santas, screaming children, photo-happy parents, Jon Bon Jovi, and a chorus of elves, as told by David Sedaris, a 33 year-old man dressed in a green frock as Crumpet the elf, who just might possibly be a little bitter about his station in life. Today, the universe smiled down upon me and brought me some extra Christmas cheer as several moving forces converged and I found myself eating a bowl of soup and watching my favorite story being acted out on a stage in front of my nose.

Act 1: My Dublin travel guide had mentioned lunchtime performances at Bewley's Cafe on Grafton Street. But my travel guide also says that Dubliners call the pub the "chipper" and urges the traveler to do the same. So basically anything that comes out of that travel guide has a 50-50 chance of being either really useful information or utter horseshit, and you are really taking your chances on it each time.

Act 2: Yesterday at lunch, I walked into Bewley's to buy yet another Orla Kiely tea tin. A girl at the door, trying to stuff a flyer into my hand, mumbled something about a lunchtime performance. I was on an Orla Kiely tea tin mission, so needless to say I did not really pay attention and all she got was my polite sidewalk smile.

Act 3: This morning, coming up on lunchtime, with half of the office gone and me waiting around for the work day to end, I suddenly remembered that poor girl outside of Bewley's and the lunchtime performances I had read about in that horseshit slash good travel guide. An Internet research project was born.

Act 4: With a bowl of soup and some soda bread, I watched/listened to that favorite story of mine.

"We were packed today, absolutely packed, and everyone was cranky. Once the line gets long we break it up into four different lines because anyone in their right mind would leave if the knew it would take over two hours to see Santa. Two hours - you could see a movie in two hours. Standing in a two hour line makes people worry that they're not living in a democratic nation. People stand in line for two hours and they go over the edge. I was sent into the hallway to direct the second phase of the line. The hallway was packed with people, and all of them seemed to stop me with a question: which way to the down escalator, which way to the elevator, the Patio Restaurant, gift wrap, the women's rest room, Trim-A-Tree. There was a line for Santa and a line for the women's bathroom, and one woman, after asking me a dozen questions already asked, "Which is the line for the women's bathroom?" I shouted that I thought it was the line with all the women in it."

The actor channeled David Sedaris's voice and mannerisms pretty convincingly. The only times I doubted that he was an American was when he said "tay-co" for taco and "Karl" for carol. Also when I saw on the program that his name was Patrick O'Donnell.

Epilogue: To continue on the Christmas spirit, after work I rushed to the first day of the "12 Days of Christmas Market" across town. After such a hard day's work I felt it necessary to reward myself with some mulled wine and garlic mushrooms and Christmas stollen. In a few days I will go back for the German sausage, crispy potatoes, and mince pie. Possibly also to browse the actual wares stalls. Definitely to get some Christmas market PODs. I hope that woman standing by the mulled wine vat is ready for her photo feature in the Review Notes blog!

The End/Sincerely,



  1. so it's a German market in Dublin...?

  2. I would have paid big money to see that.

    Over tea and beans and toast.

  3. there is a german market in philly this year, but it's honestly depressing. Philadelphia city workers selling "bratwurst"