You’ll Plug Yourself Up!
It would bring me great pleasure to see the classic tale of A Christmas Story retold through the eyes of a vegan to scorn the cheese and dairy industries for supporting chronic constipation in America where only 3 percent of the population actually get enough fiber. Most people growing up today will never experience the effortless release of a healthy bowel movement. It’s like modern toilet bowls need to come equipped with garden tiller like claws to mash up those petrified Lincoln Logs whenever the user engages the lever.
The characters in my remake would all resemble the original: the caring Mother Parker, the much older Old Man Parker, the daydreamer Ralphie and the slower brother Randy. However, the new perspective would not have Ralphie asking for a Red Ryder Carbine Action air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time, but instead petitioning for a large, triangular block of cheese in the shape of a Trivia Pursuit piece, riddled with holes and cavities, just like in the cartoons.
I’m picturing a plot that revolves around Ralphie’s attempts to subtly implant his cheese cravings indelibly into his parent’s subconscious mind. He lays awake one evening trying to think through his persuasive rhetoric. The following morning at breakfast an eagerness fills his voice, “Hey, Mom! Yesterday, they had macaroni and cheese for lunch at school. It smelled great!”
His mother pinches her eyebrows together and shakes her head in disgust as visions of public schools and their prison quality rations pump a shot of hot venom into her bloodstream momentarily. She refers to any processed food as “Betty Crocker” food – dry, stale, and would taste like pure unadulterated cardboard if it weren’t for the added sugar, fat and sodium.
Unfortunately, Mother Parker doesn’t take Ralphie’s bait and with an unconcerned motive asks Ralphie what he would like for Christmas. Without even thinking, he blurts it out. “I want an extra sharp two-pound brick of cheddar cheese, please!”
Ralphie’s slim and better knowing mother denies his ridiculously unhealthy request by chastising “You’ll plug yourself up!”
Disappointed, Ralphie grabs his well-prepared vegan brown bag and heads to school.
Throughout the entire movie Ralphie envies the lunches from his gluttonous friends whose parents provide Little Debbie snacks, cheese sticks, meat sticks, cheese and crackers, nachos, Cheetos, bottled milk and cheese sandwiches to their overweight and pre-diabetic children.
Upon returning home from school everyday, Ralphie enters the living room on his tippy toes in search of the grocery store advertisements where he fantasizes undressing the cheese wrappers with his hidden urges and salivating orifice. He frequently becomes lost in a reverie of cheese stick debauchery where his lips and tongue wrap themselves around the salty cheese stick shafts in an explicit scene of palatable fellatio.
Hearing his mother enter from the kitchen to turn on the radio, Ralphie quickly hides the paper in the magazine stand as if it were a naughty Penthouse magazine with risqué pictures that he ought not look at.
Ralphie wants nothing more than to nibble on those delectable looking, but nutrition lacking, cheese cubes and keeps bringing the issue to his mother who incessantly lectures him on the dangers of constipation, needless calories, chronic acne, inflammation and digestive problems.
“Do you really want to sit on the toilet for 30 minutes at a time pushing a heavy brick out of your little rear, Ralphie?” she would ask him as the table was prepared for curried sweet potatoes with chard and chickpeas, black lentil celery couscous with jeweled fruit, a cocoa mock-mince pie and lemon infused water.
As the holiday celebrating consumerism creeps closer, Ralphie’s school teacher doesn’t fatigue in distributing homework assignments to the less than enthusiastic children. The class groans in unison as they are assigned, yet again, another theme to draft, a miserable little task that’s as much fun as sticking one’s tongue to an icy flagpole.
However, our hero Ralphie perks up at this surprising turn of events. The subject of this theme is to write what they would like for Christmas. If Ralphie can win over Miss Shield’s support through his elements of eloquence, the flourishing result could lead his mother in finally seeing the light too.
Ralphie scuttles home to perch at his cluttered desk and compose the greatest theme ever written. He wets his lips while the words pour from his No. 2 with a feverish fluidity.
What I want for Christmas
What I want for Christmas is a 2-pound hunk of cheese. I think that everybody should have a hunk of cheese. They are very good for Christmas. I don’t think Tinker Toys are a very good Christmas present.
The next day at school, Ralphie swells his chest as he turns over the perfected composition to Miss Shields. However, when the graded papers are returned to the class, she explicitly mentions on being disappointed in the margins, and sadly, the educator awards Ralphie’s masterpiece with a paltry C+, which pops the balloon of anticipation in his bosom. His eyes fall to the bottom of the graded theme to see the ugly witch had also slashed out a few words of derision in red crayon, “Imagine the fit your mother would have!”
Oh, skunked again.
Ralphie’s adolescent brain spins and spins as it tries to untangle the web of rejection his mother and teacher had wrapped him in. But then it comes to him. Santa! Why didn’t he think of it sooner? He would ask the jolly man in red for the 2-pound brick of Sharp Cheddar since the festively obese figure must have connections to buttloads of that government cheese that nobody else seems to be buying.
Ralphie and Randy queue up at the end of the lengthy Santa line in Higbee’s department store while the parents scamper off to buy the kids’ Christmas presents.
Santa turns to his elf and says, “If Higbee thinks I’m working one minute past 9:00, he can kiss my foot.”
The two boys stand there for what seems like hours, progressing slower than hobos waiting in line for a bowl of soup. And just as they near the finish line, the clock strikes 9 o’clock.
Ralphie sees Santa stand from his elegant throne and bark out the words, “HO-HO-HO!” Santa then descends the stairs waving goodbye to the disappointed children still waiting for a sitting. “Santa has to go finish making your toys, little children. Mehhhhhh-rry Christmas! HO-HO-HO!”
Ralphie can hardly believe his luck as the last ray of hope is extinguished by the jovially barked syllable bellowing out quieter by the second. A minute later, a voice erupts over the intercom, “Santa has left the building.”
Ralphie’s voice tightens as he says to himself, “Sonofabitch!”
Ralphie vents endless frustration to his friends, Flick and Schwartz, and to the other cohorts present during recess. However, the ceaseless complaints earns Ralphie a triple-dog-dare from a vagabond acquaintance to pinch a ten-dollar bill from his mother’s purse and buy the damn cheese himself. And no schoolyard kid can refuse the obligatory demands and social dignity upheld from carrying out a triple-dog-dare.
A montage ensues where we see Ralphie devising a fool-proof heist inspired in part by the Little Orphan Annie Secret Society radio program. He places a roller skate at the top of the staircase so when Randy runs down for dinner, he slips on said skate, tumbles down the stairs and bangs his head against the woodwork.
While the mother is distracted with the wailing and injured child, Ralphie slithers into the parents’ bedroom, slips the ten-dollar bill from a handbag and reappears at the top of the stairs showing a moderate concern for his brother’s misfortune, at which point Ralphie then glances at the camera with a shit eating grin on his face. Oh boy, it worked!
After the school bell rings the following afternoon, Ralphie high tails it to the nearest convenience store and sprints to the dairy aisle where he spots a package of cheese sticks with an organic label printed colorfully on the front. Thinking he was doing his mother proud by choosing organic cheese, he grabs the bag and makes his payment. The walk home is euphoric for the sly deviant who now has a striking spring in his step, a rosy grin on his face, and the cheese stashed secretly in the recesses of his backpack.
That evening, under the guilt-free covers of his bed and a flash light illuminating the appetizing snacks, Ralphie unwraps the first cheese stick and chews it down with a connoisseur’s zest, savoring each bite slowly as if it were his last meal.
He swoons over the tasty morsel. The sodium and saturated fat fondle his tastebuds with great affection while the casein molests his brain’s opioid receptors like crack cocaine. The cheese addiction sermons his mother gave him in the past brought forth waves of guilt, but hot damn did it taste good!
Ralphie wolfs down several more of the rectangular shapes but with each stick he chokes down a peculiar thought slowly emerges in his head. Why has each each serving becoming less satisfying than the one before? The after taste didn’t feel worthy of a Christmas theme either. But regardless of any imperfections he discovers, Ralphie continues to unwrap and hammer down most of the bag with an uncontrollable compulsion.
The child gradually falls asleep with a mild satisfaction and a lingering desire to vomit out everything he had quickly shoved down his gullet.
The next morning, Mother Parker breezes into the room to wake the children for school. She pulls back the bed covers and discovers a sleeping Ralphie still spooning his mostly eaten bag of cheese sticks.
All hell breaks loose. Ralphie’s malfeasance combined with the pent up sexual frustrations from the Old Man not being able to get it up any more creates a chaos of verbal abuse from the Mother that ends with her snorting out obnoxious piggy sounds at Ralphie’s tummy. It would leave him emotionally scarred for the rest of his childhood.
Randy is woken from the clatter without a clue to what the hell was going on, but bemused by his own bewilderment, just giggles profusely and plays along like a buffoon making his own little piggy sounds to imitate his clowning mother.
Later, Mother Parker would blame the influence of her husband’s foul language for the tapestry of profanities she had woven in her children’s presence.
Three days after the cheese incident a pediatrician would require the expertise of deep spelunking to empty out the cement now solidified in Ralphie’s butthole.