Once upon a time (back before the tragic events of September 11 would have made this disgusting card seem marginally less tasteless than it does now), there was a tiny little country in the Middle East called Afkirabookle. It was a barren rock of a place with a devastated economy, chaotic political system, oppressive culture, and whose embattled and bitter populous were only kept alive by consignments of wheat from the United States. I mean, I usually paint a pretty nice picture of the setting of these stupid cards in the first paragraph only to drop the other shoe in the second; but this place was just a hellhole.

“I blame the devil United States for all our problems!” screamed Sheik Ihavent bin Layden, Afkirabookle’s billionaire leading citizen who made his money by providing the sand from his country’s oppressive desert to make Etch-a-Sketches. “Their gifts of surplus wheat are enslaving our people and turning them against Allah! We must destroy this demon!”

“Gee, Sheik,” responded Omar, bin Layden’s devoted henchman. “Don’t you think our centuries of extreme societal and religious castes that have divided our people against each other and surrounding nations, thereby crippling our social structure, might have had something to do with it, too?”

“Shut up!” responded the Sheik, knowing that if they resorted to rational thinking there won’t be a story to this idiotic card. “I tell you it’s the wheat! We must make the devil United States pay!”

“But our attempts to unnerve them by blowing up their buildings and sabotaging their postal system with poison have all failed,” said Omar, who realized that he was only there as an expositional device and accepted it. “Every time we strike a blow, they band together as a people and come back even stronger. I tell you, it’s enough to make you stop wanting to be a terrorist.”

"We stole a copy of Santa Claus' delivery schedule," said bin Layden.

“That’s because we haven’t hit them close enough to the heart, yet,” said the Sheik ominously. “You don’t know these people like I do because I watch a lot of American TV and have a subscription to Tiger Beat. I thought that if we took out one of the producers from Frasier, that would demoralize them into submission. But I see now that the only way to beat them is to attack their sacred tradition of Christmas.”

Omar listened intently.

“Our North Pole operative managed to get a copy of Santa Claus’ delivery schedule on Christmas Day,” continued bin Layden. “It’s well-known that this emblem of the devil US’s gluttony got his obese physique through his addiction to sugar-filled syrupy drinks. And as I suspected, he’s scheduled to stop for a Slurpee at our Seven-Eleven in Times Square at exactly 11:59 p.m. during his run on Christmas Eve.”

“He is, huh?” said Omar, who thought that the inclusion of Santa Claus into a story about terrorists seemed stupid; but knowing that if he expressed any disagreement that bin Layden would have his eyes gouged out, said nothing.

“When he drinks that Slurpee,” said the Sheik, holding out an ominous-looking weed, “it will be laced with an extract of a few dreaded Alecksayleez roots, a powerful hallucinogenic. One sip and he will be unable to keep control of his sleigh and fly it directly into the Empire State Building!”

“Brilliant!” shouted Omar, who winced at the painful pun that the root’s name was, but was impressed that the story of this year’s card actually seemed to center around Christmas somewhat. “The devils of the U.S. will be so bummed out by the double-loss of their fat-bearded icon and another one of those cool, tall buildings on their holiest of days that they will have no choice but to bend to our will!”

“And then they will stop sending us that Godawful-tasting wheat and all our problems will be over,” agreed the Sheik. “There is only one problem. All of our U.S. operatives were given two-week vacations by their jobs over there and they high-tailed it to Hawaii, and my place on the FBI’s Most Wanted List has caused their Satanic government to limit my student visa to only being valid during the spring semester. We need to find someone to carry out this plot. But who can we get that’s so stupid that they’d unknowingly murder Santa Claus and lay waste to one of the world’s most famous buildings?

At about this time, a young muse named Jonny M. was being fired from his job as a bouncer at a New York strip club. Local drunks quickly realized that the muse’s geeklike frame offered no opposition to their advances on the dancers, and tired of constantly shelling out the dough to have Jonny’s face reconstructed by the Puerto Rican guy who performed plastic surgery and abortions in the back room, the management gave him his walking papers. Sadly, the noble muse opened the want ads in Backstage, only to have his eyes drawn to a notice that read “Earn Good Money While You Practice Your Craft! Management Trainee wanted for Graveyard Shift at the Times Square Seven-Eleven. Nudity required.”

Mohammed Ahab looked dejectedly out of the window of the Seven-Eleven in Times Square that he managed. Once a thriving enterprise, business had fallen off drastically since the September 11 tragedy. He glanced at the December 23rd date on the calendar; and then at the hot dogs and nachos that he used to sell within a week of their being cooked still sitting forlornly beneath the 110 degree heap lamp bulb, their September 12 expiration date crossed out and revised in black marker over and over again. The Saudi Arabian transplant was about to forget his troubles in a cumin Slurpee and this month’s issue of Swank, when he was distracted by a pencil-necked milquetoast trying vainly to push open the store’s glass door.

“Good morning, sir!” chimed Mohammed, opening the portal for his fragile patron. “What can I get for you today? Judging from your slight frame and pizza-like complexion, I’d guess you’re here to peruse our wide selection of pornographic magazines that you might masturbate to.”

“Uh, no,” replied Jonny, momentarily tempted by the offer. “I’m actually here for you. I saw your Help Wanted ad, and I’m the man for the job.”

Mohammed offered to sell Jonny pornography.

Mohammed looked skeptically at Jonny’s resume: election pollster, vampire hunter, cabin boy for a bunch of gay pirates. Certainly nothing that qualified him for the demanding work of selling lottery tickets and looking the other way when underage kids wanted to buy some Captain Jack. But the manager took another look at the muse’s dainty physique, and deciding that he’d probably just be blown away by robbers on his first shift anyway, decided to take a chance.

“You’re hired,” said Mohammed, handing Jonny a blood-stained name badge that read ‘Akbar.’ “Cross out the name and write in your own.”

“Yes, sir,” smiled Jonny, making the mysterious bullet hole in the badge stand for the ‘O’ in `Jonny.’ “I’m just happy to be on the team.”

“I don’t know why the head office was so insistent that I hire someone by Christmas Eve anyway,” moaned Mohammed as a brick came sailing through the window, narrowly missing the merchant’s head. “Business has fallen off so badly that I can easily handle it myself. I don’t like to leave the store, since people have taken to racial profiling ever since September 11 and start beaning me with debris from the World Trade Center as I walk home, even though I was as devastated by the tragedy as anyone.”

“Right,” said Jonny while trying to read pay rates for the new job. “Hey, is that what the minimum wage is up to now? Boy, I’ve been getting screwed.”

“You’re just lucky that the head office is on a Hire the Retarded kick,” continued Mohammed. “With that Down Syndrome you’ve got going on, you might even be the corporation poster boy this year!”

Jonny chose to ignore the comment and happily went to work as Mohammed began to put on his anti-riot armor for the two block walk to his house. He cast one last skeptical look at Jonny, who was busy accidentally dumping an open bucket of nacho sauce onto his head, and trudged out to face the abuse of his

“Thanks again!” shouted Jonny from beneath the ooze as his new boss disappeared into a haze of cursing and flying bricks. “And Merry Christmas!”

Mohammed spent an unhappy evening in his tiny apartment. Worried that his frail new subordinate was mispricing the twelve-packs of RC Cola or mixing up the gay porn with the fetish stuff, he was unable to sleep. He toyed with the idea of going to see Mamma Mia, but knew that even the music of ABBA couldn’t relieve the worrying about his shop. After a sleepless night, the merchandiser was relieved to see the sun come up so that he could get back to the store, dispose of the muse’s bullet-ridden corpse, and have the whole incident behind him.

But when Mohammed reached the Seven-Eleven, he was amazed at what he saw. Not only had Jonny survived his shift, but he had decorated the store in dazzling Christmas lights and ornaments. And when he walked inside, he was even more astonished - the place was packed with customers.

Mohammed was amazed at what he saw.

“What’s going on?” demanded Mohammed, as he pushed through a guy who was waiting for Jonny to gift wrap a packet of Twinkies to take home to his wife. “What have you done to my store? And where did all these people come from?”

“I just added a little spirit of the season,” beamed Jonny. “In this time of trouble, we all need to embrace the feelings of Christmas more than ever. When people saw the lights and holly, they remembered that there was more around them than the blight and destruction that have been all over the papers lately. There’s the spirit of giving and brotherhood that Christmas represents.”

“What’s that to me,?” spat Mohammed. “I’m a freaking Muslim!”

“Christmas isn’t just about being Christian,” smiled Jonny as he handed a customer a box of latex condoms with a big bow tied around it. “If it was, I’d be screwed. Christmas is about universal brotherhood that transcends religion. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwansaa, or just have a birthday on December 15 like I do in which gifts of alcohol would be appreciated, this is a magical time of year. Would you like some K-Y Jelly with that, sir?”

Mohammed was pissed. He was happy for the business, but these were the same people who’d been throwing rocks at him for the past four months. He snorted, kicked aside a holly wreath that had fallen off the Bud Lite display, and went into the back room to inventory the Cuban cigars and illegal fireworks.

11:00 p.m. didn’t come soon enough for the merchant. Thanks to Jonny’s decorations the store had been swamped all day, and the shopkeeper didn’t get a break from his antagonistic neighbors. When Jonny finally walked in the door to begin his shift, Mohammed was at the end of his tether.

“You’re five minutes late!” snapped the merchant. “What do you mean coming in here this time of day?”

“Christmas Eve comes but once a year, sir,” replied Jonny meekly.

“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fourth of December,” Mohammed grumbled. “Be here all the earlier the next morning!”

Mohammed stormed out the door as Jonny looked on, confused in his boss’s animosity but happy that A Christmas Carol was in public domain so he wouldn’t have to pay royalties on those last three paragraphs. The young muse sat by the window and let the dazzling Christmas lights and the joyful bustle of the people in the streets lift his spirits. He busied himself about the store, happily straightening the inventory and making sure everything had the correct 300% mark-up, when a bearded customer wearing a turban entered.

“Good, evening sir, and Merry Christmas,” chirped Jonny to his patron. “What can I do for you this evening?”

“Ohhhh...I don’t know,” murmured the man. “I suppose you could start by letting me tie you up!”

With that, the man pulled a box-cutter to Jonny’s throat. The muse’s life momentarily flashed before his eyes, but after a few seconds of reliving his hellish teenage years, Jonny decided it would be more pleasant to focus back on the robber. What the handsome young muse recognized astonished him: he was staring in the face of the notorious terrorist Ihavent bin Layden!

Jonny was staring in the face of Ihavent bin Layden!

“What are you doing here, you fiend?” spat Jonny. “You said at the beginning of this stupid story that you couldn’t get into the country to pull off your evil plan!”

“How did you know that?” asked bin Layden.

Jonny said nothing, forgetting that he was the only one who got a complete script to these asinine cards so the other cast members couldn’t leak the plot to the media. bin Layden tied the muse up and gagged him with a piece of tape.

“When I saw the imbecilic scrawl you used to fill out your job application,” said bin Layden as he jammed Jonny into the store room, “I knew that you were far too much of a moron to pull off my plan. Fortunately, with air fares so affordable in the wake of September 11, I decided to wing over here and carry out the plot myself. Is this the Slurpee machine? It only needs one more ingredient.”

bin Lyden poured the potion into the Slurpee machine.

Jonny’s heart sank as the brute reached into his pocket and retrieved the ominous vile of extract of Alecksayleez roots. The bound muse was powerless as bin Layden poured the poison into the mix.

“And now all we have to do is wait,” intoned the terrorist. “In a few moments your devil Santa Claus will be here, and he will gluttonously drink of the hallucinogenic. Then, he will be in my power and he will fly his sleigh directly into the Empire State Building!”

No sooner were the words out of bin Layden’s mouth than a familiar bearded figure wearing red and white entered the store. Jonny was no fan of Santa Claus, since the jolly old elf and his reindeer had brutally gang-raped the muse in last year’s Christmas card; but since he did enjoy going to the top of the Empire State Building and hawking loogees on the pedestrians below, Jonny despaired.

“Give me two scratchers and a blueberry Slurpee,” directed Saint Nick. “And could you make it snappy? I’m double-parked.”

bin Layden’s eyes narrowed into devilish slits as he poured the concoction into a plastic cup. The muse could feel his heart stop as Santa raised the drink to his lips. Time seemed to stand still for just a moment as Kris Kringle prepared to drain the tasty potable down his gullet...

Santa raised the drink to his lips.


The noise startled Santa into dropping the drink on the floor. bin Layden looked over in fury to see who had interrupted his plot, to behold the breathless figure of Mohammed Ahab!

“You know, you still have to pay for that Slurpee,” said the merchant as he looked at the mess on the floor.

“What are you doing here?” demanded bin Layden.

“Are you kidding?” replied Mohammed as he retrieved the Baretta automatic from behind the cash register. “This place is crawling with surveillance devices. You think I’d let a derelict like Jonny M. alone in my shop without knowing what was going on at all times? As soon as I heard what you were saying in your ‘bad guy explains the plan before killing the hero speech,’ I high-tailed it over here to stop you.”

“But you’re a fellow Muslim!” pleaded bin Layden.

“Allah and I want nothing to do with you and your murderous ways,” replied Mohammed. “You can save that kind of crap for L. Ron Hubbard.”

Just as Mohammed was about to pull the trigger on bin Layden, a throng of neighbors burst into the shop to see what the commotion was. They immediately recognized bin Layden, and started to swarm on him just as Jonny M. managed to free himself from his gag and shackles.

“This is usually the part in the story where I make a big speech about the Christmas spirit and get the crowd to see the light,” announced Jonny. “But this guy’s nothing but a freaking mass murderer. Let’s get him!”

With that, the crowd jumped on bin Layden and tore him into a pile of bloody goo. When the last vestiges of DNA had been ground into a fine paste, one of the rabble realized Mohammed was still standing there.

"There's another one!" the man screamed.

“There’s another one!” the man screamed. “While we’ve got a taste for blood, let’s get him, too!”


The crowd was stunned into silence. They turned around to see the outraged figure of Jonny M. edging himself between them and his shaken boss.

“How dare you!” snapped Jonny, delighted that he was going to be able to deliver his big speech after all. “How dare you even think of placing this good man in the same category as that murderer! This is Christmas day, a time when we must embrace all our brothers and sisters in the human family, and recognize them as individuals. Anyone who would lump one man into any kind of a stereotype and hate him on this day of days because of the God he worships to, or the clothes he wears, or the weird-ass loud music that he’s listening to at 3:00 a.m. that’s bleeding through your apartment wall when you’ve got to get up and go to work in the morning, is completely missing the point of our most sacred of days. Shame on you! I say shame!”

Mohammed and the irate throng glared at each other anxiously. The muse was afraid that his profound sermon had gone for naught, when the silence was broken by the jolly voice of Santa Claus:

“Hey! My scratcher paid off! Slurpees for everyone, on me!”

So all was happiness in the United States. Santa Claus completed his rounds, and later served a five year suspended sentence for his vicious rape of Jonny M. Ihavent bin Layden went directly to hell and spent eternity having red-hot pokers inserted up his rectum. The neighbors accepted everyone as individuals regardless of their ethnic background, at least until dogs started disappearing after that weird Philippino family moved in. Mohammed Ahab received a twenty-five million dollar reward for the capture of bin Layden and became a national hero, and took on a trophy wife with whom he later created a scandal when he murdered her for having an affair with a waiter. And the United States ultimately healed its wounds in the wake of September 11 after blowing Afkirabookle off the map with stealth bombers, just to prove that we still had the biggest cock of any nation around.

But happiest of all was Jonny M. As he basqued in the newfound love and acceptance of his new friends, he took a special delight in knowing that he was a part of it. So, taking a final look at the joy around him, he grabbed a bottle of Schmirnoff vodka off the Seven-Eleven shelf and disappeared into the Christmas night, only to be pursued by Mohammed and beaten to a pulp for shoplifting moments later.

And happy holidays to you, my friend. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwansaa, Jonny’s 40th birthday on December 15 in which gifts of alcohol would be gratefully accepted, or just picking up some hooch at your local convenience store to drown your depression; remember that this is a year unlike any other, and that we must always keep alive the intense realizations about life and love and our fellow humans that we felt in the wake of September 11. And remember that you always have a loving friend in Jonny M.

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