By Jack Canfora
Everything changes at the holidays, even seminal works of literature.
(Gatsby in his mansion, alone, disconsolate.)
Gatsby: Daisy chose Tom over me. It can’t be. It can’t. (The phone rings. Picks it up.) Daisy?
Gatsby’s Wise Yet Hitherto Unmentioned Uncle: Well, it’s been a long time since anyone’s called me Daisy. No, it’s your wise but hitherto unmentioned uncle.
Gatsby: People used to call you Daisy?
Gatsby’s Wise Yet Hitherto Unmentioned Uncle. Now never you mind, nephew. Come home to your mysterious home in the Midwest, the town of Christmasville, for the annual Christmasville Festival.
Gatsby: It’s early September.
Gatzby’s Wise Yet Hitherto Unmentioned Uncle: Which, if you recall, is when the Christmas season kicks into gear here in your previously unnamed hometown of Christmasville.
Gatsby: I suppose there’s nothing for me in the East but further corruption and dissolution. But, no, I MUST stay. For Daisy.
Gatsby’s Wise Yet Hitherto Unknown Uncle: Just for a few days. You said she’s in Europe, anyway.
Gatsby: No I didn’t.
Gatsby’s Wise Yet Hitherto Unmentioned Uncle: Oh. Um…
Gatsby: All right, I’ll go, but I promise myself that I won’t be sucked into the small-town dead end provincialism I made a point of escaping early in life.
Gatsby’s Wise But Hitherto Unknown Uncle: What?
(Christmasville, USA. Gatsby’s home town. Gatsby takes it in.)
Gatsby: I’d never noticed how beautiful and Christmas-like Christmasville is. Or how generically beautiful everyone here seems to be.
Generically Pretty Hometown Girl: Hey – Aren’t you James Gatz?
Gatsby: I’d normally deny it, but your kind and innocent hometown ways have already broken down that line of defense.
Generically Pretty Hometown Girl: I’m not sure I follow. For as you can see by our eerily picturesque Main Street, life is simpler in Christmasville. Especially come Christmas. Not so much in February, of course, when the seemingly endless winter spikes our suicide rates appreciably. Anyway,I’m glad you’re back in town, even if you have put on some big city airs, James Gatz. I can’t wait for you to meet my implausibly sweet daughter. Her father died tragically in the Great East Egg Nog fire four years back, adding just the right amount of pathos to my backstory.
Gatsby: I’m sorry to hear that. In any event, I won’t be here long. My life’s based on the greed engendered by corrupted American values and goals, thus driving me to want all the wrong things.
Generically Pretty Girl: Whatever! Just help me put up this tree, eat these cookies, and join me and my irritatingly twee daughter tonight as we listen to the town choir sing Christmas carols at the tree lighting, as they do every weekend of the year.
(Choir singing. Gatsby and the Generically Pretty Girl hold hands discreetly)
(Morning, Christmasville Town Drug and Soda Shop. Gatsby, having just established a bootlegging operation there, emerges.)
Generically Pretty Girl: Hello, James! You know, there’s some canoes down by the dock, right near the green light, and the weather’s lovely. It won’t snow until nightfall, because that’s more atmospheric. I was hoping maybe we could go for a boat ride.
(They’re on the river. Gatsby paddles.)
Generically Pretty Girl: You sure are a mystery, James Gatz. You’ve sure changed.
Gatsby: Did we even know each other when I lived here?
Generically Pretty Girl: Who knows? Anyway, let’s get out of the boat.
Gatsby: Yes, despite all my paddling, we’ve seem to have been borne back ceaselessly.
Generically Pretty Girl: You say the funniest things sometimes, Old Sport. Say, you’re not going to miss the town tree lighting tonight, I hope.
Gatsby: Wasn’t that last night?
Generically Pretty Girl: There’s one EVERY night! Isn’t that creepily wonderful? Incidentally, you should know, my barely mentioned daughter has suddenly clung to you as a paternal figure, which complicates this plot further. I think it was all the brightly colored shirts you inexplicably threw at her.
Gatsby: Yes, she did cry stormily into them.
(They look at each other a long, lingering moment).
Generically Pretty Girl: I’ll see you at the tree lighting! I’ll bring hot cocoa, because at this point it would be weird if I didn’t!
(Tree lighting ceremony. There are Christmas carols being sung quietly in the background)
Gatsby: Who’s singing?
Generically Pretty Girl: No one knows! It just happens every night between early July and mid-June. We’ve just sorta roll with it.
Gatsby: You know…I’m awfully embarrassed, I never got your name.
Generically Pretty Girl: It’s probably something like Ashley or Dakota. Let’s go with Ashley.
Gatsby: Fair enough. You know, Ashley, Christmasvile seems immune to the corruption endemic to American capitalism somehow. In fact, the more problematic aspects of our country’s rapacious and brutally Darwinian ethos seem entirely absent here.
Generically Pretty Girl: What?
(Just then, a Colorful Town Character runs out of the drug store in which Gatsby has established his new bootlegging empire)
Colorful Town Character: Mr. Gatsby, there’s a “Daisy” on the line, her voice full of…well, money, is the only way I can describe it, breathlessly begging to talk to you.
Gatsby: The name’s Gatz. Tell her I’m not in.
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