The Christmas Story — Updated

One day in late December, Maria got a spammy sounding email in her Yahoo mail account from a stranger named Gabe, who went on and on about God and how she was blessed and how this was her lucky day.

She didn’t think much about it. But she did mention it to her boyfriend, Joe, because she thought it was messed up that it didn’t get picked up in her spam filter - even though the email came from gabriel@thelord.com, which was clearly suspect with its faux-law-firm sounding domain name. She cursed Marissa under her breath, and admitted that it was probably time to finally switch to Gmail, which Marissa was probably still using herself anyway (other than using her Yahoo mail for fending off board member hostilities which seemed to be ever accelerating).

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In any event, Maria and Joe had very recently become resigned to taking a last-minute road trip. Their tax advisor told them that it would be best to establish domicile in their neighboring province, to be counted in the upcoming census. Which was a pain. It was especially dreadful as they were travelling on short notice, during high season. Note to self: time to sell H&R Block short for such lousy advice. Joe and Maria felt foolish — like the Parisians they love to make fun of who head to Nice in August without any pre-booking.

So, when they pitched up in the tourist trap, what do you know, all of the hotels were booked. Adding insult to injury, the gaudy and over-priced local Trump Plaza practically ran them out of the lobby just for how they looked. Admittedly Joe’s determined but pathetic remnants of what looked like a miserable attempt at Movember remained, which wasn’t a great look.

Naturally, Joe fired up his Airbnb app and found a great deal on a quaint and rustic farm house nearby for the night. Good thing the price was right, because the place was in the sticks and practically a barn.

Imagine Joe’s surprise when Maria’s indigestion and gassy cramps turned into full-blown labor contractions. As in, she was starting to have a baby. Joe felt duped, even if it did provide a more rationale explanation for her recent bloating than the chicken enchilada nonsense. Also, it now seemed that Maria’s seemingly pristine and puritanical Tinder account was blatantly fraudulent at worst, or seriously misleading at best. While Joe himself may not have been exactly pure himself (hey, he went to college), Maria did seem genuinely mystified by what was happening, and he really wanted to believe her. But yet, a baby was coming!

Still, maybe it wasn’t totally unprecedented, as there was that Civil War legend of the bullet that nicked the dude’s scrotum and landed in the woman’s abdomen next door, thereby fertilizing her egg. But, Joe looked it up on Snopes and learned right away that this was in fact just an urban legend. Who exactly is this Maria?

Right then, Maria remembered the message from gabe@thelord.com. Maybe. Just maybe it *was* true. Maybe her baby *was* a gift from God. Not in a Kanye kind of way, but for reals. She pitched this to Joe. But Joe wasn’t exactly buying it. He wanted to hear more about this “Gabe” guy. I mean, what is this, Welcome Back Kotter? Is this all a big joke?

But right then, three amigos suddenly turned up in an Uber. They were all wearing super festive outfits, and seemed really agitated and enthusiastic. One of the dudes, wearing a particularly royal getup, showed Joe and Maria his smartphone with his SkyGuide app fired up, pointing to a super bright star, just overhead. Once they learned that a baby had just been born (I skipped that part), the three friends all hugged and gave high fives.

One of the other wise guys asked for the wifi password, as he was feeling hungry and wanted to find a TaskRabbit to pick up some falafel and hummus and a pile of pita bread, and bring it over. Also, a Zippo lighter, as the damn frankincense and myrrh was notoriously a royal pain in the ass to get lit. They were determined to lavish Maria, Joe and the baby with gifts, and produced, among other things, a handful of iTunes gift cards and an annual Spotify subscription.

By now, the baby was bawling like a bat out of Hell. Maria was delirious from her delivery, and Joe was torn between (a) posting baby photos on Instagram with funny hashtags like #paternitytestinmyfuture and #crazytuesdaynight, or (b) whether to just up and leave and never come back. They had exactly zero stuff to deal with the baby and the mess he was already an expert at producing, and Joe, having seen both seasons of Silicon Valley, found himself idly coming up with a business model for “Poober” — a diaper-change-on-demand service where lazy parents of infants can pay locals nearby a couple of shekels for real-time diaper changes. Just as he was contemplating looking on Linkedin to see if he was connected to anyone who could introduce him to Gurley for the seed round, Maria noticed and complained that some shepherds had arrived and started live-Tweeting what was going on. Which was awkward.

At this point, the landlord arrived and warned Joe that he would give him a 3 star rating on Airbnb if he didn’t keep the visitors and noise down. The other guests took the hint. By now Uber was on surge-charge, so they found a van on Lyft 8 minutes away. When the hipster driver arrived, he placed a cute little pink moustache onto little baby Jesus, who by then was fast asleep. Joe sat ashen faced in the corner, idly scrolling through pages of strollers and cribs for sale nearby on his OLX app.

Fade to black.

Brad Porteus tends to take three times longer than he needs to to make his point, adding tangental side-bar stories as he goes. If his meandering style doesn’t drive you completely mad, there is a lot more where that came from. Check here on Medium or the complete set on porteus.com.

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American in Amsterdam.

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