The part of Lizzie Borden will be played by a random, goateed, psycho hipster axe-murderer.Karyn and I showed up at this do-it-yourself tree farm with high hopes that it would yield something beautiful and meaningful. I'm thinking Griswold Family Christmas Tree from the movie Christmas Vacation (starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, and a surprisingly mainstream Juliette Lewis!). Karyn had more specific goals in mind: 7 1/2 or 8 feet of pure, piney Douglas Fir from the swamps of central New Jersey.
The part of His Girlfriend will be played by the hipster's girlfriend.
The part of the Forest will be played by Simonson's Tree Farm in Cranbury, New Jersey, where you can cut down your own tree, or simply pry it out of the ground with your bare hands if you don't feel like giving the $10 deposit for a saw.
The part of Lizzie Borden's mother (whom she gave 40 whacks, if the legends are to be believed) will be played by a small Frasier Fir tree in the northwest corner of the tree farm. I mean, the northwest corner of the forest.
The part of Lizzie Borden's axe will be played by the hipster's actual axe.
The part of terrified onlookers will be played by me and my darling friend Karyn, who were, in actuality, onlookers who thought the whole scene was pretty entertaining, if a little bit cold, and who at one point were dancing through the "forest" singing Little Shop of Horrors and waving a $10 saw in the air.
The part of irritating suburban children whose cacophonous screeching made me want to introduce them to the business end of the hipster's axe will be played by irritating suburban children whose cacophonous screeching made me want to introduce them to business end of the hipster's axe.
The part of other people I would have liked to introduce to the business end of the hipster's axe will be played by the smug tree farm operators who think they're so special just because they know so damn much about trees, smug New York-New Jersey drivers who think they're so special just because they know so much about trees, the Pope, Paris Hilton, any of the surviving munchkins from The Wizard of Oz, and Cher.
The part of Jesus will be played by James Caviezel.
What we weren't prepared for was to spend an hour in the freezing cold being chased around by an axe murderer.
I remember the flash of gray in the corner of my eye - a stray swatch of his coat, poor camouflage against the pine-tree background. He was toting around an axe in broad daylight. His girlfriend ambled along in front of him, stupidly, I thought. Lesson number one in dating an axe murder: ALWAYS LET HIM WALK IN FRONT.
Actually, lesson one is not to date the axe murder in the first place. Lesson two, for those dumb enough to ignore lesson one, is, ALWAYS LET HIM WALK IN FRONT.
Moments later, from somewhere to the south there came the telltale sound of oversized car doors, and two parents climbed out of their suburban assault vehicle with two screaming children in tow. Sadly, the axeman was walking in the other direction, away from them.
He turned out to be genial enough when he found us, and even quite understanding about why we were crouched, hiding, our underwear soiled, and our fingers raised in the shape of crosses to ward off his soulless evil. Karyn even complimented him on what a nice axe he had. I thought, why would you compliment someone on their axe? That's like complimenting a mugger on how sharp his knife was, or telling an axe murderer what a nice axe he had. That's Karyn for you, though.
Anyway, apparently he didn't have it in for us. I wish I could say the same for this poor tree though. I actually heard this savage beast of a man whoop with joy upon discovering his victim. Some people are just sick.
After witnessing this unmitigated barbarism, Karyn and I packed it in and went to a garden center 20 minutes away in South Brunswick where we bought a tree that had obviously been killed much more humanely. Then we took the tree back to New York City and stuck it in a corner of Karyn's apartment. Karyn baked cookies to celebrate, and hosted a party where her friends came over and hung lights and ornaments on it. But all I could think about was the brutal axe murder I had witnessed without even speaking up. I don't think Christmas is going to be the same for me this year - maybe not ever again.