Monday, January 2, 2012

TOM SUGERLAND’S LAST MEMORABLE CHRISTMAS / By Ray Ramos / Copyright Ray Ramos / Page 16

Yasmine couldn’t believe that Tom had somehow finagled her on the Efren Wallenda shoot in French Polynesia. Yasmine knew that she had to let her parents know she was leaving the country? But they were still on their cruise, and she was unable to get a hold of them on their cell numbers. So she sent them off an email.

Hi Mom and Dad, I hope you’re having a blast on your cruise? I have some awesome news; I’m going on a photo shoot with Italian Vogue in French Polynesia for a week!! No Kidding!!  I’m going as the assistant of surfer turned model, Tom Sugerland (WHO IS EPIC!!!) But actually Tom's just letting me tag along with my camera. It’s a long, long story…I can’t wait to tell you all about it when you return. Don’t worry, I’ll secure the house and have Lola all taken care of.

Happy Chanukah!

Kisses & Hugs

On their last day on the set, Christmas Eve went smooth. They were all there that day; Tom, Yasmine, Rockquin and Beatrice. That day Tom even took great pleasure when Dottie Dolen came by for her last visit, before she was off to spend the holiday with her family; which he suspected was a dozen cats. As daffy as she was, she had been instrumental in the good fortune that had all started with this silly job. Tom even thought of that angel Clarence in that movie, It’s a Wonderful Life … perhaps she was kinda like him. Tom laughed to himself at such a silly thought; but you never know he thought to himself?

Tom had asked Yasmine if she would join him for Christmas Eve dinner, but he'd forgotten that most places close early of Christmas Eve. So they decided to throw something together themselves. As they were cruising in Tom’s pick-up Yasmine banged on the dashboard suddenly.
“Stop! Over there!”
Tom looked over to where her hand was pointing. He couldn’t help cracking up.
“You want a Honey Baked Ham?”
“Yes! I love Honey Baked Ham!”
“Well then, so do I,” Tom said.
Tom cranked the steering wheel and headed the car towards the Honey Baked Ham store.

Tom and Yasmine went to the local market to grab more items for their covert Christmas Eve feast. On their way back to Yasmine’s home in Cheviot Hills, they went past a small Christmas tree lot on Washington Blvd.. Again Yasmine pointed.
“I want a tree! Can we get one Tom?”
“You want a Christmas tree?”
 “I know it’s crazy, but I’ve always wanted to celebrate Christmas… not the religious stuff obviously… but the tree and the colored lights… obviously Santa.”
“And don’t forget ham,” Tom said.
“Obviously ham,” she said.
“Well them let’s get you a tree… I bet we can get a great deal one since its Christmas Eve,” Tom said with wink.

Tom and Yasmine pulled up in her drive way with a big fat Christmas tree. They forgot the fact that the needed decorations to decorate it. The best they could think to do was stop at the local 99 cents Store and buy some cost effective lights and bulbs.

As they were unloading their Christmas loot from the truck Yasmine’s next door neighbor, Mrs. Sussman came out of her house with a sour look on her face.”
“Yasmine what on earth is that?”
Yasmine froze; she was at a total loss for words.
“It’s the world’s biggest Chanukah bush ma’am,” said Tom. And without another word grabbed the tree and pulled it out of the truck bed and head towards Yasmine’s front door.
“Happy Chanukah,” Yasmine said grabbing the ham and other groceries and running behind Tom.
“That was no Chanukah bush!”
Mrs. Sussman shook her head and walked back in her house.

Tom and Yasmine made it safely in her house. Tom peaked out the window.
“Who’s Mrs. Kravits?”
 “Mrs. Kravits? Who’s that?”
“Sorry that was the name of the nosey neighbor on Bewitched… that was an old TV show, about a hot house wife who was a witch.”
“Oh, that’s Mrs. Sussman… she’s a Mrs. Kravits all right. She’s dying right now wondering what I’m doing in here with a Christmas tree and a tall older man, with a ponytail no less!”
Scandalous,” said Tom.
Yazmine grabbed the ham and headed for the kitchen.
 “Come on, we got lots of work to do,” she said.

It was about 9:45 PM and things were looking pretty good and Christmassy in Yasmine’s parents Jewish house. They had the radio tuned in to the station that played strictly Christmas songs for the holidays; White Christmas was playing.

“It looks right out of a Bing Crosby Christmas Special,” said Tom proudly.
“Who’s Bing Crosby?”
“Who’s Bing Crosby? The guy who’s singing the song that’s on the radio right now.”
“I love this song, it’s so pretty. Dance with me Tom,” Yazmine said with a smile. Tom took her hands and started to lead.
“Did you know that this song was written by Irving Berlin… who was Jewish.”
“Really? That’s crazy, isn’t this like the most famous Christmas song ever? A Jewish guy wrote it!”
Tom laughed, “Funny, I think the Jewish guys wrote all the Christmas songs that folks listen to at Christmas time? I dare say, Christmas wouldn't be nearly as musical without them."
The little Jewish girl laughed.
“Oh, my God, this is so awesome! But my parents would so kill me… totally.” She giggled.
“Christmas is for everybody… why exclude anyone? If you don’t believe in the story of Jesus, than go with Santa, and if not him… then I don’t know? The Grinch? Like I celebrated Chanukah with you; I was happy to do it… it was because I was in your company… that all. Do you know who Anne Frank was?"
“Of course I do,” Yasmine said.
“Well, if you recall in her diary, Anne and her family would celebrate Christmas as well as Chanukah when they were hiding in their attic… because it made them feel good… didn’t matter that they were Jewish…It was just a time to feel a little better. That’s just humanity, right?”
"You sure know a lot about the Jews, Tom?"
"I guess so?"
Yasmine looked up at Tom, she felt so happy.
“Tom, thank you for making my only official Christmas, the most memorable Christmas ever.”
Bing was over and Sinatra now was singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
“This is my favorite Christmas song; no one sings it like Sinatra.” Said Tom.
Yasmine listened more carefully to Sinatra as he sang the words.
“I can’t tell if this is a happy song or a sad song?”
“I guess that’s the beauty of it… it’s whatever your little heart feels,” said Tom.
“Did a Jewish guy write this one too?”
“Probably,” Tom chuckled.
“I can’t wait to shave this beard off tomorrow, they want it off for the shoot… they’re not sure about the mustache, so I gotta keep that.”
“Tom can I have a another Christmas wish?”
Tom stopped dancing.
“What now?”
“Could I shave you?”
“I’ve always wanted to shave a man. I have the stuff, my grandpa’s old kit. My dad was gonna send it to the thrift shop, but I took it out of his car when her wasn’t looking. I’ve always wanted to use Grandpa Jack’s straight edge razor.”
Tom looked at her a little nervously.
“I don’t know? You could screw up my lucrative modeling career before it ever gets started?”
“Come on, I’m good with a razor. I have a delicate touch. I shave my legs as well as other delicate places every other day.”
“Well it would be nice to have dinner not looking like a damn Billy Goat.

Yasmine took Tom into her parent’s large bathroom. She placed him on a bar stool that they had brought from downstairs.
“You don’t want to mess up your shirt, take it off,” Yasmine said.
“You’re the barber.”
Tom took off his shirt. Yasmine had never seen him up-close without one on before.  His body was lean and trim, but it feature numerous nicks and scars from his many years of surfing. What caught her ever though was a small tattoo that he had on his arm. She couldn’t believe that she had never seen it on Tom before, it simply read; Wanderlust.
“No way!”
“No way what?” Tom said confused.
“Your tattoo,” Yasmine said, again doing her pointing thing.
Tom looked at his arm embarrassed.
“Oh that, I was surfing Shark Island down in New South Wales, Australia.  I was very drunk when I got that damn thing… silly, I know.”
“No! Tom that was the one word I had told myself that I’d get tattooed on me; if I ever did get one!”
Tom shook his head.
“You’re kidding me? You’re not supposed to get a tattoo anyway, you’re Jewish.”
“I’m not supposed to eat ham or have a Christmas tree either ! The point is not whether or not if I ever get one… which I probably will. But the point is that you of all people have my fantasy tattoo! Tom that is so epic!”
“That’s epic too?”
Yasmine gave a pout, then stamped her foot on the ground
 “Okay, I get your point. We’re two jokers in the deck, kid.”
“No! We're kindred spirits!”
“Yeah, you’re right that sounds a lot better. Well are you gonna give me a shave or not? If not I’m gonna put my shirt back on?”
“Get in the chair. I can’t believe you have my tattoo!”

Much to Tom's surprise Yasmine had a real steady hand with Grandpa Jack’s big scary straight edge razor.
“You don’t use this razor when you shave do you?”
Tom said as he spalshed water on his face from the sink.
“Oh god no… much too delicate, can you imagine?”

Tom looked at himself in the mirror; he really did kinda look like actor Sam Elliott.
“That was a very good shave; I don’t see any cuts… no blood whatsoever? Amazing.”
Just then the doorbell rang. Lola, the red lab ran to the door.
“I bet it’s---“
“Mrs. Kravits?”
“Yeah,” said Yasmine.
“Well don’t answer.”
“No way! I’m sure she’s been watching the place. If I don’t answer that would be a million times worse; she’ll think we’re have sex. Wait here okay.”
Yasmine went to the front door and opened in just enough so it didn’t look like she was hiding anything; Mrs.Sussman standing there.
“Young lady, I know that your parents are out of town. They asked me to keep an eye things and to make sure you okay.”
Mrs. Sussman elbowed her way in the front door, to her horror the first thing she saw was the fully decorated Christmas tree in the family room. That wasn’t the worst part, when she saw the ham sitting on the dining room table; her eyes bulged out like something out of an old Bug Bunny cartoon.
“Is that a fucking ham?!”
“Technically,” Tom’s voice rumbled from around the corner.
Mrs. Sussman looked confused; Tom looked different with his shave. His handsome features really caught Mrs. Sussman’s eye.
“You look familiar… are you that cowboy actor… Sam Elliott?
“No ma’am. I’m his cousin, Tom.”
Yasmine tried hard not to laugh.
“Well I don’t understand what all these hams and Christmas trees and cowboys are doing in your house Yasmine? Are celebrating trying to Christmas?”
Yasmine started to gently move her towards the front door.
“No Mrs. Sussman, me and my friend Tom are just celebrating humanity.”
Mrs. Sussman now looked really confused as Yasmine shut the door on her.
“What… humanity? You don’t need a tree and a fucking ham for that?!”
Yasmine laughed as she and Tom watched Mrs. Sussman walk down the brick path and back to her yard.

Tom and Yasmine sat there at the table stuffed. They failed to make a dent in the Honey Baked Ham.
“Tom what are we gonna do with all that ham?”
“What Lola doesn’t eat we can send over to Mrs. Kravits,” Tom joked.
“Sussman, she’s not that bad… I’ve lived next her all my life… twenty-two years.”
Tom just sat there quietly; Yazmine could tell that he was deep in thought.
“Too much ham?”
“No, mashed potatoes… they were excellent.”
“I put cheddar cheese in them,” Yasmine said proudly.
“Ya know, I was just thinking…”
“Yeah, I noticed Tom.”
“These six weeks have been really something… I was broke, and then I somehow end up being Santa Claus… where I meet some wonderful people like you, a gay Filipino elf, and now I’m gonna work as a high priced, at least for me... fashion model in Tahiti---“
“Don’t forget the part about becoming a male prostitute,” Yasmine said.
“Well I couldn’t have done it without you… I have you down as my pimp.”
Yasmine laughed and threw her napkin at him.
“I am not your pimp, Tom Sugerland… if I am? Then where's my cut?!”
Tom playfully threw it back at her.
“Well, what do you think paid for the ham and the tree?
Just then the grandfather clock started to chime. Yasmine jumped out of her chair.
“It’s Christmas! What do we do?”
Tom looked at her a little confused.
“I don’t know?”
“Let’s hug!”
Yasmine threw her arms around the old surfer who resembled Sam Elliott.
“You know something,” Tom asked.
“I don’t think I’ll ever have a Christmas that's this memorable again.”
Yazmine’s eyes started to water.
“Why are you crying,” Tom asked?
“This has been such a perfect time, I don’t want it too end.”
“Nothing last forever but a memory, kid. But don’t worry, we still got one more trick up our sleeve,” Tom said as he hugged her.

Yasmine carried two cans of Coke, as she walked in the sand, past Zara Mia, who was standing on the beach completely naked getting a makeup touch up. She couldn’t help but glace at the super models pubic area. “Yikes, Brazilian wax! I bet that must have hurt?”
Yasmine said under her breath as she continued walking as headed over to Tom who was sitting on a chair in a straw Panama hat. In his view were several other gorgeous models in various states of undress.
"Native women," said Tom lazily.
“Are they too much for you to handle... Here’s you coke.”
“Ha! I knew that there was a reason that I brought you along, Yaz. Your sense of humor.”
“Tough job?”
“I think that this might just be the most memorable New Years Eve ever as well?”
“Who are you gonna kiss at midnight?”
Tom peaked from under his straw hat and motioned his head at a Colombian model with the most incredible breasts the Yasmine had ever seen.
“I like that one,” Tom said with a snicker of Huck Finn.
Yasmine kicked his chair over and he tumbled laughing in the sand.
“Now you gotta get me another coke!”  
Just then a non-super model woman walked up to them.
“Excuse me Tom, Mister Wallenda requests you on the set.”
“I’ll get that Coke later Yaz, duty calls.” Tom got up from the sand.
Yasmine just shook her head and laughed, as Tom nonchalantly jogged over to Efren Wallenda who was standing on the beach with three models who were wearing only grass skirts.

After an incredible New Years Eve meal Tom saw Yasmine talking to one of the Tahitian  crew, a young man around her age. He smiled and then walked over and grabbed a beer from the cooler, then decided to slip away for a walk on the beach. He strolled down the sand until he was far from the base camp. He wondered how in the world did any of this happen? Was he really on an atoll somewhere in Tahiti?… surrounded with gorgeous naked women?… and getting paid for it! Tom found a place on the sand and said a prayer of thanks… if God didn’t hear it, at least Tom knew that he had said one, and that he was grateful.

Tom made his way back to camp about ten minutes before midnight. Yasmine saw him walking up the beach and came running to him; she was in tears. She could hardly speak. Tom immediately became frightened.
“What’s the matter!”
He grabbed her by her shoulders, he could feel her shaking.
“Did someone hurt you?!"
Tom saw the look in her face; it wasn’t fear… it was something else?  She finally spoke.
“It’s this place!”
Yasmine started pointing again.
“It’s this place! You’re here Tom!
Tom now was really confused.
“I know I’m here, I just took a walk on the beach, I’m sorry I left without telling you!”

Now it was Yasmine who grabbed Tom.
“Do you know what this place is? The guy just told me!”
Tom looked out towards the camp at a couple guys smoking.
“Did he get you high?!”
“This place, Tetiaroa! Do you know what it is?!
“No, are you gonna tell me?!
“It’s his island!
“Who’s island?”
“Marlon Brando! It's Marlon Brando’s Island! You finally made it you’re here! And you brought me with you!”
Tom looked at Yasmine, her big toothy smile that he loved was staring at him.
“You gotta be shitting me?!
Tom looked out on the water.
“Well, how do you like them bananas? You wanna see something else funny?”
Tom stuck out his wrist in front of Yasmine, a vintage 1950’s Gruen watch attached to it.
“Is that it? Oh, my god that is so freakin' weird! Why are you wearing his watch?!”
“Hell, I thought this adventure was kind of special? When else was I gonna wear Marlon Brando’s watch? I guess it turned out to be the perfect time… son of a bitch!”
Tom laughed and put his arm around Yasmine, he hugged this beautiful, silly girl that he’d grown to love.
“You know, Brando lied to me!”
Yasmine looked a Tom very confused.
“About what?”
“ I don’t see any good waves around here! He may have known how to act... but he didn't know shit about surfing”
“Boy, Tom you are a surfer till the end all right!”
Tom and Yasmine could hear the crew start to do the countdown to midnight.
Yasmine elbowed Tom in the side,“Didn’t you forget something?
"Where’s your Colombian model with the amazing tits?”
Tom looked to where all the models were gathered drinking beer and champagne.
“Oh those... I mean, her."
Tom could see the Colombian model in the distance, she looked a bit tipsy from champagne.
 "She can’t hold a candle to a sweet girl from Cheviot Hills.”
"Aw shucks Tom," Yasmine said doing her best little cowgirl imitation..
Tom stuck out his arm and they both followed the second hand of Brando's vintage Gruen watch till it hit midnight.
“Happy New Year Yasmine.”
Yasmine gives her old surfer a kiss on his cheek.
“Happy New Year Tom Sugerland.”

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