So, a couple of announcements, I guess. One is, this is officially my last month in the air as an active, here’s-your-coke, how-do-you-take-your-coffee, I’m-sorry-sir-but-you’ll-have-to-keep-your-shirt-on stewardess. My company offered a buyout, and I took it, and at the end of this month I’m “retiring” (at the age of 42, mind you–it will not exactly be a rocking chair-and-mint julep retirement, at least not for a while…). I’m going to keep the name “Mister Stewardess,” though, cuz I earned it, meaning that one time when that girl yelled it, she was talking to me. I wrote this year’s Christmas Story (which brings us to our second announcement: it’s out today from JMS Books!) before I knew they were going to offer these buyouts, but you will see on about page one that retirement (or blowing a slide and taking two beers and quitting, however you wanna go out…) was on my mind as a hot topic. Justin, our 43-year-old hero, has just been laid off, you see, and he says, “After thirteen years in the cubicle zoo, my severance was okay. Not more than I felt I was owed, mind you, but enough that I’d be able to pay my bills and cover my nut for a few months while I looked for something else. Or enough to live like a king on an island the size of a college campus within spitting distance of the Gatun locks of the Panama Canal for eight weeks, which is what I decided I’d way rather do. I had the rest of my life to job-hunt. But I also had a car payment and exorbitant Southern California rent to worry about. I was never going to have a big pile of money sitting in my checking account just begging to be spent again, and I figure if God didn’t want me running off to Central America to drink beer and chase brown-skinned boys, He wouldn’t have invented the sublet.”
Enter Cole, a middle-aged American who wanders off from the cruise line-approved waterfront and ends up in Justin’s favorite island hangout. Justin hasn’t come all this way to ogle Americans. It’s like he says, “If I was looking for a big, square-shouldered American meathead, I’da stayed in America. I live in San Diego, for Heaven’s sake—it’s like the square-shouldered American meathead outlet mall.” But Cole knows how to dance, and it turns out he knows how to kiss, and it’s only one night, after all, although by morning this seems to Justin less like a selling point and more like a grave romantic injustice. When he spies the ship still in port while he tends to his Christmas Eve hangover, Justin knows he must manage his expectations. Just because the ship’s still here doesn’t mean Cole will come ashore, and so what if they do cross paths again? Did they really connect as Justin thinks he remembers, or is that just the beer filling in the blanks? He invents an errand, throws on some clothes, and heads for the dock, figuring there’s one way to find out.
Remember, during their first week, all JMS new releases are 20% off, and only available at JMS Books.
Lest auld acquaintance be forgot, The Ghost of Christmas Past recommends last year’s holiday hit, The Gift of the Gay Guy, also a JMS Book!