Monday, December 28, 2015

After Christmas, After the Christmas Cad

After Christmas, After the Christmas Cad

During the four years that I have shared Allison's diary entries about her relationship with the Christmas Cad, several of you have called her foolish, or expressed sadness that such a good-hearted person is "doomed." Neither statement could be further from the truth. Allison, although she has grown up naive, sheltered, and optimistic to a fault, is a very bright and capable young woman. This was the last Christmas season that she will have been blind to the Cad's many character flaws. Their break-up this coming spring will be briefly painful for her, of course -- intensely painful, why deny it? -- and she will be certainly be mortified afterwards as she gradually recognizes the depths of her past naivete. Against this, however, her natural buoyancy will serve her well. A little older and quite a bit wiser, she will soon realize that there are many, many more promising fish in the sea.

Next fall, to the infinite relief of her long-suffering father, Allison will finally enroll at the state university. For the next four years, she will never be off the dean's list. She will enjoy dating several very kind and reliable young men for a few years, and then, after that -- who knows? -- maybe she'll meet someone special!

Things will go harder for the Christmas Cad, I'm afraid. He involved himself on the fringes of organized crime last year, and as everyone knows, once you've established those kinds of connections it is awfully hard to break them off. In the spring and summer of 2016 he will be an increasingly frightened man, under pressure to submerge himself deeper and deeper into scarier forms of criminal activity. About Allison? I wish I could tell you that he will understand what he has thrown away, but he won't, not for a long time.  And this is no surprise, really.  Like many young men in trouble, he is far too concerned about his own shabby immediate crises to be able to invest himself in meaningful personal relationships.

About the same time that Allison moves into her dorm room -- although he will no longer be in touch with her, and will not know of the coincidence -- the Christmas Cad will leave town in a hurry, fleeing to the Chicago suburbs. There his older brother, no saint but at least a role model with a relatively stable lifestyle, will help him land a steady job in a restaurant. This act of petty patronage doesn't sound like much, but it will save the Christmas Cad's life. His abundant natural grace and charm will serve him well in food service, and as the years go by he will be able to move into the upper reaches of restaurant work, almost always lavished with more money in tips than most of his peers could ever hope for. He'll steer forever clear of any further criminal activity or drug use -- although, to work in food service is to be surrounded by alcohol, and I'm afraid he'll always drink a little bit more than he ought to.

His days of dancing the lead in ballet performances are over, obviously. Indeed, as he puts on weight, his nights on the stage will begin to seem like dreams from another lifetime. But he will remain emphatically one hell of a dancer, and he will always love dancing both for its own sake and and for the attention from women, at first sexual and eventually, as he ages, merely flirtatious, that his ability on the dance floor earns him. Fifty-one years from now, unwell and pushing eighty, he will still reduce everyone to tears at his granddaughter's wedding, dancing with her at the reception with the same effortless ease and grace that he possessed at twenty, the two of them together ("she inherited Daddy's moves," her mother always boasts) almost gliding over the floor. By then, he will have long since been no longer a Cad, but simply a man who lived a life made up of missed opportunities, second chances, and stolen joys.


Jennifer said...

*hearty applause*

gl. said...

Wow. This story became so much richer! It makes me wish the Cad would look her up on Facebook in his old age, maybe send her an apology letter.