In a post guaranteed to alienate every religious bigot on Earth, The Slog reveals the derivation of ‘Christmas Carol’, and the true story of the Saviour’s attempted comeback.
So it comes to pass that Mariella’s time has come, and as she’s been knocked up by some no-good Eyetalian who then does a disappearing trick, her friend Joey Schlepmann (who let’s face it has always held a candle for her) goes with Mariella to another neighbourhood where they ain’t known. I mean, like a zillion neighbourhoods away: they traipse through the Bronx and Little Italy, bumming rides out of New York State until they arrive in what Joey figures is the middle of the pits of nowhere: Bethlehem Illinois, population two hunnerd eighty-seven persons.
Also Joey wants to put as many States as possible between himself and his mother, who – since he took up with the Sicilian schikse – has been raining hot coals on his head sufficient unto the creation of a human Bessemer converter.
“What you think, like you are maybe some kind of Crusader?” she has asked him, “the Bronx is crammed with girls called Bernstein, Hoffman and Shonn eager to rip off your underwear but oh no, you have to save this doozy damson in distress some loverboy left in the lurch who is blessed with the name Capacelli. The whole street thinks you’re a schlemiel, and I’m struggling to disagree with them here”.
Such was the way with his Momma. “I shall welcome her into our apartment and into my kitchen,” she told Joey, when he said he was going to rescue Mariella, “with my head in the oven…..”
They saw the sign, crooked and rotten by the roadside. It said “Welcome to Bethlehem. The Town that Bigs Up Small”. Mariella sat down on a passing tumbleweed.
“My tits are likea two carafo di vino and this bambino, she’s a kickin’ like she maybe wannabe a chorus girl some day” she announced, “You thinka thees gabinetto might run to a Holiday Inn?”
“Search me,” said Joey, “We should take a look rather than frame hypotheses. And tell me, how come you know this is gonna be a girl?”
Mariella’s eyes flashed as only dark female Italian eyes can flash when their wisdom is questioned by men who knowa nertheeeing.
“I woman knows these theengs,” she hissed, raising herself from her crouch to reveal what seemed to Joey like the best impression he’d ever seen of someone who had swallowed a small moon of Jupiter.
So anyway, Bethlehem’s one small bar-hotel had this sign over the entrance telling travellers that it was called Angie’s Stopover. Underneath the name was the fading promise that this was ‘The last Resort – until Chicago’. It didn’t make Chicago sound too good.
The couple shuffled inside, and Joey saw – peeping over a podium – the only face he’d ever seen more fat and glum than his Aunt Sadie. It was Angie Mirakel, the owner.
“Ve are full,” she said.
“Full?” asked Joey, “It’s the end of December in this dustbowl and you’re full already? What is this flop joint, the Promised Land?”
“I voss thinking zo,” Mirakel replied, “und zo I have given all the rooms avay free to ze to poor Syrian refugee children victims of Israeli aggression disguised as grown-up Ethiopian gangsters for zeir own protection.”
Joey looked at Mariella, and Mariella looked back. They turned to leave.
“All the hotel bars in the midwest,” Joey whispered, “And we have to to walk into one owned by Hitler’s daughter…..”
“VAIT!” yelled the owner, “I am not a Nazi. Und I voss never a Kommunist Yooss leader under Honneker also. You must not zeess rumours be spreadink….”
“So give us shelter,” Mariella demanded.
Which is how Mariella Capacelli and Joey Schlepmann wound up sharing the old barn behind Angie’s Stopover with three cows, two goats and a donkey on December 24th….along with few sausages from Angie’s fridge, and some snippets of truly ridiculous conversation.
“So you have maybe a name in mind for this daughter you’re carrying?” asked Joey.
“I binna givvin it molto thought” Mariella replied “and I decide a-yes, I call her Carol”.
Joey’s eyebrows shot up towards his already receding hairline.
“Carol?” he demanded, “Carol? What the fuck kind of Wasp name is that for the firstborn of an Italian Jewish couple?”
“Lissen uppa Jewish boy,” she answered, “I havva de beeg ambeetions forra this kid AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!”
Schlepmann shot back into the hotel screaming about parted seas and breaking waters, and before you could say Virgin Birth, the barn was full of midwives, pans of boiling water, huge screens and old crones pushing Joey out of the barn into what was by now a stark, clear bollock-freezing winter’s night. Looking up, he was almost blinded by a bright star in the sky over Washington DC.
Over in a nearby field, some shepherds were washing their socks, a group of angels hovering above them. Only a few metres away, three Arabs on Camels rode towards Schlepmann. Then they stopped.
“We bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh,” said the lead rider.
“Meeeuuuur?” asked the expectant father “What the fuck is Meeeuuuur?”
None of this struck Joey as normal shit.
But then a woman came out, shouting “A son! You have a son!” Schlepmann ran inside to find yet more women, this time yelling for swaddling clothes. Joey had no idea how clothes might swaddle, but he saw Mariella looking down adoringly at her son wriggling about buck naked in an Orange County fruit box.
“So much for female intuition” he remarked. Mariella glared at him.
“Sharropayoface!” she ordered “if he not a Carol then he gonna be a Carl….affater Perkins – dassa great American name…”
“Carl?” Joey spluttered, “Carl? Jesus Christ!”
And the next thing Joey Schlepmann saw was Mariella’s eyes like two saucers spinning either side of her nose.
“Mamma mia!” she cried “Dassa one helluva nominazione!”