Monday, July 20, 2009


They should have a calendar of them: “The Christmas Tree Men of Carroll Gardens”. Each and every month would be December, each one better than the next.

They ascend on my neighborhood every holiday season. These guys that sell trees to all the people here that live in historic brownstones. It seems like there’s one on every corner, filling the neighborhood with holiday cheer, the verdant scent of pine and testosterone. They come from upstate, Vermont, or Maine. They sell Scotch Pine and Douglass Fir and sometime maple syrup. They have big shoulders, nicely weathered skin, beards or goatees. I wanted to purchase one of them, put him in the corner of my living room and light him up for the holidays.

One of these guys set up shop right across the block from me. He was just my type, looked like he could bench a Poplar, had a closely trimmed beard, and shaved head. He didn’t have the tallest trees, or the widest trees, but they were very nice trees, indeed. He had a warm smile and a ready ‘hello’ every time I passed my corner. I found myself looking for reasons to go out in the cold, I started to take only 20’s from the ATM just so I could pass his spot with more frequency.

That Saturday night I went to dinner at the restaurant on the corner right across from his tree depot. It was my neighborhood place, I knew everyone there. I could go and sit there at the bar, have a glass of wine and some food and feel right at home. I walked in around 9 and alas, he was there at a table, sitting alone. He had treated himself to a big steak, and was drinking a glass of wine. I took a seat at the bar, and pretended not to notice, I couldn’t believe that he was actually there - I didn’t want to seem all excited. The waitress took my order, we chatted a bit. I was taking him in out of the corner of my eye. He had finished most of his steak, and was standing up. A little holiday depression washed over me, my timing had been off - he was leaving. But he walked over to me, and said, “do you mind if I join you?”

His name was “Tom”. He put down his wine glass next to mine, they looked so pretty sitting next to each other on the bar that way. He excused himself and grabbed his plate, and sat himself next to me. He was wearing Levi’s and a white cable knit sweater. He smelled like fresh snow and maybe Merlot. He ordered a bottle of wine from the waitress. She gave me a “well, look at you” look, before she went off to fetch it.

“Merry Christmas to me,” I thought. He was handsome and seemed kind. And he wasn’t from upstate, or Maine, or even across town. He lived on Sackett Street. A half a block from me. Turned out he spent half the year in Florida, the rest of it, in my home sweet neighborhood. He seemed bright, earnest, he was into wines, golfing, and he said that he dedicated most of his time to being a fine arts painter. It was his passion. He lived in a brownstone that he owned, lived in two floors, and rented out the other two. He sold Christmas trees to round out his income. I thought he was just lovely. We chatted for a couple of hours, I picked at my salmon, I was more taken by his unusually clear blue eyes. The wine was washing over me, it was going to be a great holiday, it seemed, even though my family would be spending it in California, and I would be spending this year’s holiday alone. But things were shaping up nicely, it seemed. He was single, outdoorsy, owned a beautiful home, and had dedicated his life to Christmas trees and painting in oils. Around midnight he excused himself, he said he had to get up early. I imagined him going deep in to the woods, snow crunching beneath his Timberlands, axe in hand - returning with all 15 trees over his shoulder, throwing them in to one of those old station wagons with the wood paneling on the side. He said, “I’m sure I’ll see you very soon,” kissed me on the cheek, drained his glass, and went out in to the cold.

I thought of us a year from now, opening gifts around the perfect tree. He would choose the best one out of all of the trees in the woods for me, we would trim it together. He would climb the ladder to put the star on the top, where I would have a bird’s eye view of his perfect Levi’d butt. We would drink hot cocoa that I would make from scratch, I would have to find out how to do that. We would make homemade waffles together, and pour his syrup generously over them, then kiss, wonderful maple syrup kisses, sticky sexy and sweet.

I waited until after 2 that day to leave the apartment, I didn’t want to seem all anxious to see him. I stayed across the street on the way to the ATM to get my 20, he saw me, and we waved, and he winked. I hung out inside the bank vestibule for a while, warming up, trying to calm down, I was planning to walk on the same side of the street of his tree stand. I prayed that I would time it right, that he wouldn’t be hocking pine to a woman that hadn’t been fucked by her husband in a long time, there were a lot of them in the neighborhood, and they tended to spend a lot of time lurking around these Christmas tree men.

But Christmas Tree Tom was there alone, rubbing his gloved hands together, trying to stay warm. He threw me a big “HEY!!” as I walked towards him, I got a cold kiss on my cheek. We made small talk, and then the Christmas miracle I had been praying for all year long came true. He asked if I would like to come over to his brownstone and see his ‘work’ and have a glass of wine. The man wanted to share his passion with me, he wanted me to see his paintings, to open his soul, a bottle of fine wine, maybe he would make a fire, who knew where the night would lead! He told me to meet him back at that corner just after 8. Then Christmas Tree Tom and I would head down the block to his cozy home and live happily ever after. “Yes, I would love that,” I said. The holiday’s rock, I thought, like I’d never thought otherwise.

I went down a couple minutes after 8, after trying on several - I’m sexy, and ready to look at your oil paintings and maybe make out under the mistletoe - outfits. He looked cold, and happy to see me. He locked up the gate that held his inventory, and we walked up the snowy sidewalk, he opened the cast iron gate to his house, it was so pretty. Charming, with antique shutters, snowed over flower boxes at every window. He opened the door to his first floor apartment - the floors were dark stained and welcoming. The living room had only a grand piano, and a very large Christmas tree, already lit, throwing color all over the freshly painted walls. There were grand, 20 ft tall pocket doors at the end of the vast room, he gestured towards them and said, “Come. See my work.” He ceremoniously slid them open and proudly walked through. They were everywhere, lining the walls, on multiple easels. The most horrifyingly bad paintings I had ever seen in my entire lifetime. Each of them a portrait, ugly, immature, inexcusably bad; garish colors, unskilled, no sense of space or dimension. Paintings you might expect to see at a garage sale marked one dollar, still there at the end of the day. I didn’t know where to look. I couldn’t look at the canvases, I certainly couldn’t look at him, I looked at the floors, covered in muslin sheets, paint splattered, no indication that only a fraud traipsed them.

Christmas fucking sucks, I thought. I had to get out of there immediately, go home and cry - then maybe go out for a bite to eat. Christmas Tree Tom was beaming at me, arms open, gesturing towards the dreck on display. “They’re incredible. Absolutely unbelievable,” I responded to his unfaltering grin. I told him that I was late, that I had to meet friends for dinner. There were no friends, they had all left for the holidays with their boyfriends to meet their families. We walked back out through the room with the perfect tree and the mahogany grand piano, thank God he hadn’t offered to play, or worse, sing. His gift for the arts promised to be disastrous in every medium.

I saw him the next day on the corner from across the street. He still looked very handsome, but now different - sort of like when you see a mentally disabled guy who is blessed with really good looks. I felt a little sad for him. I gave him a little wave, and headed on down the street to my corner ATM. I took out 200 dollars this time and headed home to hunker down for the long winter ahead.


  1. Damn, that is a sad story! It's always something....

    Nicely done, tho ;)


  2. Y'know, it's so funny you say that, I was JUST thinking that after I finished this. In fact, I may have to rename the blog, "It's Always Something"... thanks for the compliment... and the observation.

  3. Wow. Just imagine if you met someone who had a crush on your sexy self, but then didn't like your writing.

  4. But that's impossible!!

  5. P.S., I have a friend that met a musician, and found his work to be, well, not her taste. She decided to continue dating him in spite of it, now they're very much in love!

  6. My Christmas Tree Man is an amazing singer/songwriter . . . but he likes blonds.

  7. Well, what did you expect from a Christmas Tree Man from Southern California?