Monday, December 12, 2011

A Very Special Lifetime Christmas Movie...Starring Me

Last night, Kate, Jacob and I watched 12 Dates of Christmas, an ABC Family movie about Amy Smart falling in love with Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell. The premise is pretty much Groundhog Day without the superb Bill Murray or the great script. Just mentioning that movie makes me want to watch it again right this instant.

In 12 Dates of Christmas, Amy Smart passes out at the mall after being spritzed with a perfume sample and then proceeds to relive Christmas Eve over and over for 12 days. 12 Dates of Christmas isn't great and is highly predictable.

Who cares? It's Christmas. I want to eat sugary treats and drink bourbon and I want to fill my brain with fairy tales.

At one point during the movie, I said, "It's only day four. It can't possibly take eight more days for her to figure out what to do. Why is this girl so stupid?"

Jacob said, "Why is this movie SO awful?"

He's 15. I'd be worried if he didn't say it was awful.

So, guess what happens.

Amy Smart realizes that she truly does not belong with her ex-boyfriend, Jack. We know this on day one because every movie has a character named Jack and Jack is NEVER who the heroine is going to end up with. Ever. But it takes Amy a few more days to get this into her thick skull. She also figures out that she belongs with grown-up Zack Morris who is cuter than Jack, nicer than Jack, and has a better (read more tragic) back story than Jack. This we also know by day one.

In between these two realizations, Amy introduces her elderly, lonely neighbor to an older man from the scene at the mall. ("Oh good," Jacob said. "I love when old people are happy in movies.") She mends the relationship of a random couple on the street; saves a homeless kid and his homeless dog; introduces her best friend to a nice man; learns how to bake; makes peace with her dad's marriage to her step mom; goes on a shopping spree and buys a sports car; gets a makeover and a tattoo; and goes ice skating.

At the end of the movie, I said to my children, "If you kids were doing what you're supposed to, you'd be writing letters to Santa asking him to bring your mommy a nice man for Christmas. You'd also be asking for me to get a book deal. Your letters to Santa are clearly lacking."

As soon as I said this, I realized that I am the perfect heroine for a cheesy Christmas movie. I have all the necessary requirements. Let's count them down:

12. I'm a single mom. The single mom is a popular role in many movies. Why? Because the single mom is single, i.e. clearly needs a man. Plus, the single mom brings many wonderful, built-in traits to the table, thus making character development unnecessary. The single mom is presumed to be strong, independent, hardworking, and worthy of some reward at the end of two hours.

11.  I have a cat. For some reason, pets are always a part of these movies. Usually, the heroine or the male love interest must have a dog. Dogs are the more popular choice because they're so lovable. Cats are a little too independent to be lovable (or to enter a scene on cue) but they still work for our purposes. The cat is the instant signifier of a female character who is single, reads too much, wears yoga pants every day, and clearly needs a man. "Clearly needs a man" is a big part of this genre.

Yeah, I said it.
10. I have a highly quotable teenage son. This kid can come in and out and make hilarious comments, but he doesn't chew the scenery. Plus, he's a ginger. Every movie should have a ginger.

9. I have a precocious preteen daughter. She's remarkably beautiful. She's sassy. She's not afraid to say what she thinks. She can come in at just the right moment, plot-wise, and say things adults want to say but never would. Among them would be something she has actually said to me regarding our lack of Christmas lights on the house. "You need to hook up a man." In other words, "You clearly need a man."

We call this "Stephanie Gibsoning."
8. I'm feisty. This means I will resist efforts to change my views on life. That way the movie, like 12 Dates of Christmas, can't be resolved on day one because, on day one, I'm still saying, "I sure as hell don't need a man." I am also unafraid to make an ass of myself. As I often say, embarrassment is for suckers. I'm not completely clumsy, but I do frequently run into the door frames around my house. Why? I don't know. It's not like they are in a different spot every day. I occasionally smack my head on the kitchen cabinet door where the microwave is. I've been known to stammer like an idiot when talking to a super hot guy. I also enjoy dancing and - bonus! - I'm not any good at it. Let the socially awkward hijinks ensue!

I love you, lil cracker.
7. I have a sassy black friend. His name is Christopher. He's the greatest. My children adore him. When he comes over, they practically crawl all over him and then the three of them participate in what we call "art on demand." The kids demand he draw whatever they say and Chris does it because he is patient and wise. Because of his patient and wise nature, Chris could also fulfill the role of "magical negro." It's OK. Chris wouldn't be offended by me using that word. That man calls me a "cracker" all the damn time.

6. In addition to Chris, I have a great circle of friends who would make amazing characters in a movie. Just one scene of us sitting around drinking cocktails, watching Ryan Gosling videos, and discussing the mysteries of love and life would set up several secondary plot points (i.e. Stephanie meets a nice man named Hines Ward; Erin starts her own business; Todd gets discovered by a legendary art dealer, Tina inherits $10 million, Laurey meets Bret Michaels, Jennifer gets laid.)

5. I have a super sad back story. Unfortunately, the dead spouse is a favorite device of this genre. In 12 Dates of Christmas, poor grown-up Zack Morris reveals that his wife fell off a ladder at their cabin and died. (And THIS is why there are no Christmas lights on the outside of my house.) This gives grown-up Zack instant gravitas. I meet this requirement. This is tricky, though. You need a love interest who isn't scared off by your super sad back story, but you don't want one who is excited by it either. Some men want to be your savior. I once had a date tell me, "I know you've been hurt, but I won't hurt you. No. Look into my eyes. I. Won't. Hurt. You."

After I threw up, I punched him in the head.

4. I have an archenemy who represents greed and avarice and her name is Kim Kardashian. Christmas movies must show the evils of greed and the good of unselfishness. You need characters to represent these two sides. In It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Potter, rolling around the bank in his wheelchair in all his Dick Cheney-esque glory, is greed personified. The spoiled and ridiculous Kim Kardashian can play this role in my story. She gets book deals even though she's not a writer. She "writes" novels and kills the English language by misspelling every C-word so it starts with the letter K. I have a C-word for her. If my dumb, drunk uncle left a huge pile of cash at her bank, she'd sneakily tuck it under her huge ass cheeks and attempt to ruin my life. No doubt about it.

3. I'm down on my luck. I don't have a job. My savings account is dwindling. Suze Orman most certainly would not approve of my financial choices. But if you're going to be the plucky single mom in a Christmas movie, you must be poor. Money is bad (see No. 4), except when you have the audience on your side and you come into your riches at the end of the movie. Then money is good. See how that works?

2. I'm very "bah humbug" about the holiday season. See my post on winter. Or this other post on winter. See my lack of enthusiasm for shopping or buying a Christmas tree (see no. 3). See my difficulties with hearing Christmas songs, which make me cry. See me "Bah humbug" this and "Santa can bite me" that. But wait. See my friend Laurey give me an artificial Christmas tree, so I don't have to spend money to buy a real one this year. See Kate being really happy because we're going to have a tree after all.

1. I'm losing faith. Like Maureen O'Hara in Miracle on 34th Street (the black-and-white version, not that crappy colorized version), I'm not so sure I believe in love anymore. I don't want to pretend that the damn elf in our house is really moving every night on his own. I want to leave the country and visit a tropical island until late February. But I'm not a total lost cause. There's a spark of belief still there and, if my children pray hard enough and write heartfelt letters, if I get visited by an angel or ghosts of Christmases past, if I get spritzed with magic perfume at the mall, if my travel plans go awry and I must rent the last car at Enterprise and share it with a handsome stranger to get to my destination, if I get trapped on the top floor of Nakatomi Tower and save the day (yippie ki-yay and merry Christmas, motherf*ckers), if I open my heart just a little bit, perhaps Santa will bring me what I clearly need.

That's right. I want a swimming pool for Christmas. 


  1. The most important question, of course, is WHO WILL PLAY US IN THE MOVIE?!

  2. I'll be the Bagger Vance to your Matt Damon anytime. Great post!

  3. I love this post. You know what you're missing - the chubby friend - I will volunteer.

  4. Love this post. I do see that there is obviously another Jennifer in your life. A lonely one at that. And, by all means, if this is made into a move, don't forget Dr. Floyd and Mr. Walton. Those two alone will win this Hallmark flick an Oscar.

  5. Yes! But wait, who also has a very special guest appearance? Oh your friend Ludacris. Cause you can't have Chrismtas without Luda. What you clearly need is ... a dance party intervention. Hold up, I'm gonna remedy this in six days.

  6. This is perfection! Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts with us! I want that pool too but I'm married so you can have that pool. That pool would look great at your home. I want you to have that pool really badly. You're hosting the next big holiday so the family can enjoy your pool. OK, enough.

  7. It's a magic tree!! Bret Michaels and a book deal will be under it on Christmas morning!!

  8. Stephanie, you will be played by a supermodel. Erin will be played by Charlize Theron. I should probably be played by Tina Fey.
    Kerry, you're in!
    Christopher, thanks for being my Bagger Vance. I would also like you to be my Morgan Freeman and follow me around narrating my life.
    Jennifer, I hope the other Jennifer in my life doesn't mind the storyline I've created for her.
    Erin, how could I forget Luda? He's definitely a part of the soundtrack. There will be an entire montage set to the song Get Back. There will be dancing.
    Carole, I love your comment! That pool does belong in my backyard. It's fate that I should spend the rest of my life swimming in that pool.
    Laurey, we decorated our magic tree last night. There is room underneath for Bret. I'll give him directions to your house.

  9. Luda is necessary because he's going to introduce me to Hines, of course!

  10. This is perfection. I love this movie in the making. Id sit down in your circle of friends having drinks any day of the year. 12 days of repeating with no hangover is call for a celebration in itself. i love sitting down to a daily dose of amy b....your day will come.


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