Once upon a time (back when there was even a remote possibility that these stupid cards weren’t going to send me straight to Hell), there was a simple little village known as Bethlehem. It was a devout little place, where the gentle Hebrews led simple lives and attended temple with pious regularity.

Everyone who lived there hated the dump. There was absolutely nothing to do for fun. The broken down inn at the center of town was the only place in the village that could even be remotely considered a diversion, and the innkeeper there was always turning away travelers in order to make room for Bondage and Discipline conventions that spilled over from Jerusalem. And while that was certainly was a boon to Tom Beaudette, the vile innkeeper, the ticket prices were out of reach for the simple locals. Desperate for some entertainment, the town elders went to the skinflint Beaudette, a Sun Worshipper and therefore not an offensive stereotype.

“We’re bored out of our skulls, you cheap Sun Worshipper, you!” said Jehosephat, the eldest elder who always got the best pew at temple, despite his annoying flatulence that caused local children to mock him by hiding deadly scorpions in his beard as he slept and then yell taunts as he ran screaming through the streets. “Since the goat died, the only diversions left to me are prayer and masturbation; and since one of those damned scorpions bit my pecker, masturbation’s not the thrill it used to be. We need you to help us out.”

“I’ve told you before,” thundered Beaudette, a vile old fart who won the inn in a game of Simon Sez many years before, “I don’t have the money to pay first class lounge acts to appear here. And if you think I’m going to lay out an extra shekel to make you clowns happy, you’re out of your minds!”

“Well,” piped in Nicodemus, the village sharpener of the Briss knives, “What if we got an act so cheap that you wouldn’t have to lay out any cash?”

“We’d have to get an act so bad that they’d appear for a pittance,” thundered the innkeeper, “and then we could have our fun by yelling oaths at them and them pelting them with the scorpions that Jehosephat shakes out of his beard. Who’s so lame that they would be desperate enough for a gig like that?”

At about that time, a young muse named Jonny M. was being fired from his job as a cantor at the Temple of Aramithia. So drunk that he was unable to pronounce the Hebrew words of the hymns he was required to sing, the obnoxious muse would fake it by scatting pornographic lyrics to the ancient tunes. As he ran for his life out of the back door of the Temple with the infuriated worshippers close behind, the handsome muse opened his copy of Back Stage/Middle East to try and find a new gig. His eyes were immediately drawn to an ad reading “Lounge Act wanted at Bethlehem Inn. Must be willing to bus tables and clean chamber pots. Deferred pay, and nudity required.” It looked like the best job he had had in years, and with only the prospect of a stoning and a speedy crucifixion awaiting him Aramithia, Jonny high-tailed it to the little town of Bethlehem.

Late December was always a particularly depressing time in Bethlehem, what with it’s starless nights and deafening noise from the B&D guys who were already starting to trickle in for the convention. The locals began dragging out the old Atari and setting up a Pong tournament as a desperate diversion, when Jonny M came rolling in on a unicycle and singing all the words to “Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be” from the Hamlet episode of Gilligan’s Island. He stopped in front of the inn and regarded the gathering crowd.

“Registration for the B&D convention is inside, mister,” said Nicodemus as he regarded the muse. “Like to be kicked in the face, do you?”

“Why, no,” said the noble muse as he made a mental note to make an appointment with his plastic surgeon when this gig was over. “I’m the muse you advertised for. I sing, tell jokes, do magic, juggle, perform an erotic dance of the seven veils, and tell a very compelling story about how I had to have a metal plate installed in my penis. Let me show you a little of what I can do.”

The crowd was riveted as Jonny unleashed a hilarious array of knock-knock jokes; but just as he was about to begin reciting the epic poem he wrote while living in Nantucket, Tom Beaudette the innkeeper broke in.

“What in the name of the Sun is going on here,” fumed the unbelievably cheap innkeeper (who I’d like to point out one more time is not an offensive stereotype.) “I’m trying to set up the spanking horse for the convention. Who are you?”

“I’m the muse you hired,” beamed Jonny, proud that he finally had a job in one of these stupid cards that didn’t involve mopping up vomit. “Put me to work. Shall I sing a song or do a dance?”

“First thing’s first,” thundered Tom Beaudette as he grabbed the muse by the scruff of the neck and dragged him inside. “I’ve got some vomit I need you to mop up.”

Jonny found that he liked the work. True, Tom Beaudette was hard and brutal taskmaster; but the muse did have occasional spare moments to entertain the devout townsfolk, and he figured that even submitting to Beaudette’s abuse wasn’t as degrading as, say, working in a supermarket. But late one evening, as Jonny was applying liniment to the welts on a B&D guy’s back from some fun with a cat o’nine tails, the muse heard his boss screaming at someone from the front door.

“I told you,” bellowed Tom Beaudette, his shrill voice made even more annoying by the fact that he had swallowed a kazoo earlier that morning. “There’s no room at the inn! The B&D convention has taken up every single unit!”

Jonny looked over his vile boss’ shoulder to make out who he was yelling at. It was a young and very tired-looking couple. The muse’s sympathies were particularly raised when he noticed that the woman was about as pregnant as you could get, and the pool of water she was standing in indicated that she was not going to stay that way for long.

“Wait a minute, boss” rushed in Jonny with a stool he offered the young woman to sit down in. “There’s plenty of room in the manger ever since the goat died. They just have to mind the wet spot, is all.”

“All right,” sneered Tom Beaudette. “You can take them to the manger. Forty-five bucks for the night, and if you use the cable TV, it’s extra. But don’t let them make too much noise. It’s the last night of the convention, and Betty Paige is giving an address on the future of the industry.”

The couple smiled warmly at Jonny as the muse led them to the welcoming barn.

“Hey, thanks for helping us out,” said the man. My name’s Joseph; Joseph Christ, and this is my wife Mary.

“Your last name is Christ?” asked Jonny, figuring that the cover of this card had already got him in so much trouble that it couldn’t get any worse.

“I shortened it from Christberg,” explained Joseph. “It was my agent’s idea. We came from Nazareth to watch the crucifixions. I’m thinking of going in the jewelry business, and I think the image of a guy in agony on a cross would look lovely dangling from a pendant. I was about to make some preliminary sketches, but Mary went into labor. Funny, I didn’t even realize she was pregnant.”

“And the weird thing is,” piped in Mary as her husband began timing contractions, “Joe and I have never even done the nasty. Pretty unprecedented, huh?”

“Not at all,” reassured Jonny. “The same thing happened to my mother when one of my brothers was born. The really weird thing is that when he came out, he was the spitting image of our black mailman. So what are you going to name the kid?”

“We were thinking Elvis,” answered Joseph as he applied cold compresses to his wife’s forehead. “What do you think?”

“Hmmm... not bad,” said the muse, “but a name like that might lead folks to have too high expectations. How about ...”

Jonny was about to offer a suggestion, when he was silenced by a brilliant shaft of light blazing through the barn door. And since the average street lamp was a heretic burning at the side of the road that gave off painfully insufficient illumination, Jonny thought he’d better check it out. When he beheld the sky, the normally egotistical muse was overcome with an unfamiliar feeling of humility. For shining directly above the barn was the brightest star that Jonny had ever seen.

It was the brightest star Jonny had ever seen.

“Holy cow!” screamed the muse. “Looks like the government is about nineteen hundred and forty years ahead on their nuclear testing! What the hell is that?”

“It is a sign that the son of God is being born unto us this night.”

Jonny spun around to see three impressive looking guys standing before him. Remembering that threesomes got in for half price, the muse was about to direct them to the B&D convention when he suddenly realized that the three guys were here for a very different reason.

“We are three wise men,” said the spokesman of the group as Jonny tried to overlook the trio’s high opinion of their own intellect. “We followed the star here tonight to witness the birth of our savior. For Mary is the mother of the child, but our Lord God is the father.”

"We are three wise men."

“Wait a minute,” said Jonny skeptically. “You mean God banged Mary, and she doesn’t even remember it? I thought I was a bad lay, but...”

The three wise men were about to beat the living crap out of the heretical muse, but they were stopped by the excruciating labor howls of Mary inside the barn. The compassionate muse ran to her side.

“Something’s wrong,” screamed Joseph. “For some reason, the kid’s got a halo and it’s burning up Mary’s love pie! Do something!”

Jonny took frequent puke breaks.

Without even thinking, the muse reached up into where no man has gone before, and worked to ease out the precious infant before any damage could be done. The kid’s halo did indeed have the voltage of a Duracell Copper Top, but the muse heroically struggled to save mother and child. Jonny had always heard that the glory of a new life coming into the world was an unparalleled miracle, but the reality was that the muse was grossed out beyond belief and had to take frequent puke breaks. But after two hours of intense labor broken only by Jonny’s intermittent breaks to vomit in the corner, he finally worked the child out and gave the newborn a life-giving swat on the fanny.

“Maybe those B&D guys have a point,” mused Jonny as the baby gave out a cry of life. “Sometimes spankings can be rewarding.”

Jonny was interrupted by a choir of angels who suddenly appeared singing joyously of the newborn’s arrival. The muse stared earnestly down upon the babe, who up until then he had planned to sell to some gay Egyptian acquaintances as a sex slave. He looked up to the child’s parents for an explanation.

Jonny was interrupted by a choir of angels.

“What about God, Jr.?” asked Mary to her husband. “Of course, I’d have to okay it with his father, first.”

The reality of the situation finally sunk in on Jonny, who was awe-struck at the gentle child laying quietly in his arms. The noble muse began to utter a prayer, but was suddenly quieted by the newborn’s puking all over him. Jonny handed the child to his mother’s waiting arms, and only then noticed that he was covered from head to foot in afterbirth goo.

“Jesus!” screamed the muse as he regarded the mess. “I hope this stuff washes out. I don’t think this berg has a dry cleaners.”

“Jesus?” answered Joseph. “Hey, that’s not bad. I think we’ll name the kid Jesus. Jesus Howard, after the most underrated stooge, Shemp.”

“Jesus H. Christ,” pondered the muse. “I like it. Sounds like just the thing to scream out when I slam the car door on my hand.”

The three wise men finally couldn’t take it any more, and held the geeklike muse down and began brutally pummeling him. Just as one of their blows drove the bones from Jonny’s nose up into his brain, the ruckus was aborted by the bombastic entrance of the infuriated figure of Tom Beaudette the innkeeper.

“What the hell’s going on?” fumed the vile Sun Worshipper. “The screams in here are louder than the ones at the inn, and one of those guys has a stiletto heel up his rectum. I ought to kick you people out of here right this second...”

The innkeeper’s rants were suddenly quieted by the sight of the newborn infant lying in the manger. Tom Beaudette had seen plenty of babies in his day, usually in paternity suits that saw the kid chopped in two; with a half being awarded to each of the complaining parties, as was the judicial custom of the time; but this child was different. One look at the infant’s sweet face made Beaudette realize that he would have to start living his life differently. And of course the choir of angels trumpeting away didn’t exactly take away from the spectacle, either.

“I hereby renounce my Sun Worshipping ways,” said Beaudette, who was always quick to jump on a bandwagon when he saw one. “I will follow this child, and study his teachings. But do you think we could lose the umbilical chord? That’s going to look like hell on stained glass.”

“And I, too have changed my ways,” proclaimed Jonny as he gave one final retch. “Never again will I mock the solemn ritual of Christmas with these stupid and offensive cards, but instead will honor the day with reverence and keep it’s holy message in my heart all of the year long.”

“Really?” asked Joseph in surprise.

“Hell, no,” laughed Jonny. “I only said that so religious types won’t lynch my ass because of this idiotic card. We’re already at work on next year’s issue: Jonny’s Concentration Camp Christmas. Hitler and I make gingerbread men in the bunker.”

“Hey, that’s great,” said the wise men spokesman. “And to celebrate this momentous occasion, we have brought gifts of gold, frankincense and Muir.”

“Do you have the receipt for that?” asked Mary. “Muir’s great, but I think I’d like to exchange it for some flannel underwear and maybe some Beanie Babies.”

So all was happiness in Bethlehem. Tom Beaudette converted to Christianity and moved to Crete, was he had a great career as lion food. The Three Wise Men went into tag team wrestling, and later challenged Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF title. Joseph and Mary got a recording contract as the Joseph and Mary Chain. The people of Bethlehem got rich off of tourism, and bought so many goats that they were never bored or lonely again. And little Jesus became the Savior of Mankind, unless you’re a Jew, Buddhist, atheist or Moslem, in which case he was just a nice Jewish boy who went into his father’s business. And a great tradition of Christmas was born, giving happiness, joy and hope to generations; not to mention a huge boon for the burgeoning eggnog and fruitcake industries.

But happiest of all was Jonny M. As he looked around at the joyous celebration around him, he took a special pride in knowing that he had contributed to it. So with a happy wink to his newfound friends, the muse opened a copy of Paradise Lost to see what parts of Hell he should visit after this idiotic card sealed his fate, and walked off into the desert night, where the bright star turned out to be an alien space ship that kidnapped Jonny and probed his rectum so brutally that he spent the next two years in a wheelchair.

And love and joy to you, gentle reader. Whether you be celebrating the birth of Jesus, the arrival of Santa Claus, Hanukkah, Kwansa, Jonny’s birthday on December 15th, or simply the opportunity to have one last party before Y2K knocks us all back to the stone age, know that you always have a loving and devoted friend in Jonny M.

Return to the Jonny Christmas Story home page