By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Oh, the hairy holidays! Time of familial fighting, parental put-downs, and dire differences! Next time you get the urge to strangle big brother Bart, bite the bullet and head straight for the corner bar. And remember, you'll be in good dysfunctional company.
The Shady Bunch
In preparation for holidays with the fractured fam, I go on a custom-tailored drinking binge. First I trot to spook house Jekyll and Hyde(91 Seventh Avenue, 989-7701), where I raise the glass to my Italian father's side of the family and the extreme duality of the alcoholic personality. The "spooky" host-comedian sets an appropriate vibe; his distorted accent and hurtful sense of humor assure me this is the perfect memorial for the living ("Why do you have those stirrups in your ears?" he asks, jabbing a finger at my hoops. "Someone going to mount your head and ride?" Now, that's the Christmas spirit! Uncle Lee, is that you?!). Apropos drink specialties include the Failed Experiment, which I bypass for Mr. Hyde's Frozen Mudslide (mediocre, $6.50). Fake fog fills the air as I sip, and an electronic Hyde growls: "I will kill you all!" Minus the weak drinks, feels just like home . . .
Next: Mekka (14 Avenue A, 475-8500). I pour a little out for my hell-raising black stepmother, who taught me the art of the pointed rhetorical exit line (Dad: Where're you going? SM: OUT! Door: Slam.) To be cute, my pallid self orders the Soul Sister ($7.25). It's lemony and extremely potent, just as stepmother would've wanted. Warm cornbread brings me back to earth . . . sort of.
Time for a nightcap. In reverence to my dear, sober(ing) Jewish mother I head to Second Avenue Deli (156 Second Avenue, 677-0606). The ceremonially popular Manischewitz isn't offered, so I settle for a Kosher Gami Sauvignon Blanc from Israel ($5.75). With a passion for exact mimicry, I take only a few sips before claiming tipsiness and pushing the glass away. Eclectic like a line at the DMV, you gotta love the fam. Merry Christnukwanzah, NYC! CHELSEA PERETTI
Dashing on the Go
Spartos makes a mad dash for the 3:02 Harlem line to Mount Vernon, but her holiday haste proves pointless: Out of breath, she reaches track 29 of Grand Central Terminal(Park Avenue and East 42nd Street, 800-METRO-INFO, www.grandcentralterminal.com) only to find a portly conductor cheerfully ho-ho-ing from a departing train. So our terribly tardy heroine rushes to a pay phone to call Ernie and Lois collect ("Mom, Dad . . . put the turkey on hold!"), then huffs it over to Vanderbilt Hall for the annual holiday fair. From the rows of funky vendors, Spartos impulse-buys a crunchy buckwheat pillow scented with sleepy chamomile; comfy Nick-and-Nora pj's covered in clear blue skies and fluffy white clouds; a ceramic "New York City cookie jar" (to hold duck sauce and ketchup packets!); and a sparkly Lucky Wang pom-pom ponytail holder. Next, Spartos lugs her shopping bags to the classy new lounge at Metrazur (east balcony, 687-4600), where she sips on a kicky Knickerbocker Limited (Vox vodka, Cheri Beri, and sour mix; $8.50) while watching the Statue of Liberty march on the main concourse's Sky Ceiling during the free and patriotic Laser Light Show. When she tires of the brilliant stars and snowflakes, she races downstairs, grabs an unsuspecting Midwestern tourist, and demonstrates the vocal-throwing powers of the amazingly cool Whispering Arch. Then it's a quick dip into the pearl of an Oyster Bar (lower level, 490-6650) for some slippery bluepoints ($1.45 each) and a crisp St. Pauli Girl ($5.50). Spartos checks her watch. Uh-oh! Where did the hour go? She books it back upstairspausing to smooch a cute suit under the Laser Mistletoeand heads straight for The Bar Car(tracks 29 and 119; no phone). "Gimme a Commuter Special [16 oz. Rolling Rock can; $2], and hurry!" cries Spartos, before sprinting aboard the 4:02. C. SPARTOS
'Tis the Season to Be Nogging
I've recently been opening up the homestead every weekend forshudderdinner parties, that most bourgie (but fun) contrivance and first sign of creeping lameness. With dinner comes steady consumption of alcohol, and Christmas just brings this home like the mail. I've heard legendary stories of the salesmen of Warehouse Wines & Spirits(735 Broadway, 982-7770). They make drinking look like an adventure, trilling the names of makes, years, and serving recommendations as if they were born next to a vineyard. I marveled as a customer dropped $600 on wines while the salesman gave him a 45-minute initiation into the art of fine winoism. I weaseled out of the place with three bottles of Old New England Egg Nog, a muddled, semi-sweet cream made with brandy and rum ($6.99 for a liter bottle) and a cheap bottle of red ($5.99) to make sangria with brandy. "Wine and cheese plates," I chimed, taking a swig of nog. "It's so the next step." JOSÉ GERMOSÉN
Dear, droll Science Fair. My bookish, rumpled Westinghouse winner. Five months we have courted. Near Thanksgiving our bliss was tested. My mother: "Has Science invited you for Christmas?" His father: "Has Shallow Gal asked you for Hanukkah?" Everybody else: "Isn't this your first New Year's Eve together?" So Science channeled the Krebs cycle as we navigated the awkwardness of other people's holiday expectations with our own boozy congress.