Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas 2018

Eric testified Thursday in front of the Senate Correspondence Committee about accusations of forgery leveled against him by the late Peggy Schuyler, sister-in-law to the famed politician and rap sensation Alexander Hamilton. The following is the transcript of Eric’s opening statement, as prepared by The New York Times:

Mr. Chairman, readers of my holiday letters, and members of the Senate Correspondence Committee, thank you for allowing me to make my statement. I wrote it all by myself yesterday afternoon and evening. Nobody helped me. Nobody has seen it, other than Amy and Julie and Laura and Karen and Susie and Maura and Megan and Nicki. The list goes on. Yes, I was drunk when I wrote it. I like beer.
Last year, after I sent a holiday letter purportedly written by Peggy Schuyler in 1773, I was publicly accused of forging the letter. I denied the allegation immediately, categorically, and unequivocally. Most of the people who read the letter said they don’t recall that it was a holiday letter. In fact, many said under penalty of felony that they do not even know me! And that includes Amy and Julie and Laura and Karen and Susie and Maura and Megan and Nicki. The list goes on. Think about that fact.
The day after the allegation appeared, I told this committee that I wanted to write another holiday letter as soon as possible to clear my name. I demanded that Christmas be held again the very next day! Unfortunately, it took an ENTIRE YEAR before we could have another Christmas. In that very long year, as was predictable and as I predicted, my name has been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations. The year-long delay has been harmful to me, to holiday letters in general, and to the country.
I have been accused not just of forgery, but also of plagiarism! It’s been suggested that my holiday letters are nothing more than stolen movie scripts, song lyrics, or transcripts from Senate hearings that have only minor changes. These reckless accusations have ruined my reputation. I will now never have the opportunity to pilot a Boeing 747 or coach women’s basketball, two things I might have enjoyed. Now I’ll never know. It’s so unfair. Interestingly, nobody ever mentions all the authors who I haven’t plagiarized. And there are many of them! To my knowledge, I have never stolen the work of Tennessee Williams. OK, that was a shorter list than I thought it would be, but I’ve made my point.
Since I wrote my last holiday letter, there’s been a frenzy to come up with something--anything--to block me from writing another one. One recipient said he would “oppose me with everything he’s got.” Another reader said, “Eric’s holiday letter is your worst nightmare and will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come.” That’s probably an exaggeration. And then, as no doubt was expected, if not planned, came a long series of false last-minute smears designed to drive me out of the letter-writing process. This whole effort has been revenge on behalf of the Clintons, who have never forgiven me for that time I attended a fundraiser and stole a decorative soap from their powder room. This is a circus! Yes, I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out and forging letters. If every American who drinks beer and writes letters that are supposed to be by someone else is suddenly presumed guilty of forgery, we’ll be in an ugly new place in this country.  

I am an optimistic guy. I always try to be on the sunrise side of the mountain. But today, I have to say that I fear for the future of holiday letters. Allegations of forgery must always be taken seriously. At the same time, the person who is the subject of the allegations also deserves to be heard. Due process is the foundation of holiday letters. I’m not questioning that Ms. Schuyler may have had a letter forged by some person in some place at some time. But I have never forged a letter by her or anyone. That’s not who I am; it is not who I was. I intend no ill will to Peggy Schuyler or the Schuyler sisters.
First, Peggy Schuyler’s allegation stems from a forgery that is alleged to have occurred in December of 2017, when I was only fifty years old. Just a child, really. Second, Peggy Schuyler and I did not travel in the same social circles. It’s possible we met at some point at some event, although I do not recall that. In fact, it is very unlikely that we ever met at all, because she died in 1801. To repeat, the very person whose letter I am accused of forging has not confirmed any of this because she is dead. These allegations are uncorroborated. Further, nobody mentioned in the letter has come forward to support the accusation. This includes Alexander Hamilton and King George III, who are both also dead. Coincidence?
Third, I have submitted to this committee detailed calendars recording my activities in December 2017. Let me explain to you the very special way I use calendars. Sometimes I write something down in a calendar to remind me to do that thing on a specific date in the future. But--here’s the exciting part--I can also look at a date from the past and see if I wrote down something for that date. If I did, it could offer a clue about something I did on that day. I know. I’m a genius, right? So, the forgery described by Ms. Schuyler presumably happened on a weekend because that is when I do my forgeries. Well, if it did happen on a weekend, my calendars show that I was too busy to have forged any letters. Especially such a high-quality and hilarious letter as the one I am being accused of writing. My calendar shows that I was busy almost every weekend night in December. I spent one weekend night at a small holiday gathering at Becky’s house with Matt, Denise, Lori, and Jenny. Their names are all listed on my calendar, which is not weird at all. All we did at that gathering was sit around and talk and drink a few hundred beers and forge letters. So let me emphasize this point: if the forgery described by Ms. Schuyler happened in December of 2017 on a weekend night, my calendar shows all but definitively I could not have done it.
The committee also has a letter that I forged from 65 writers who knew me last year. They said I always plagiarized them with dignity and respect. One of those writers, Gertrude Stein, sent me a text last night that read, “Deep breaths, you’re a good man, a good man.” A text I received yesterday from Jane Austen read: “Eric, be strong. Pulling for you to my core.” Or read the op-ed Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about me in 1936: “Eric was an advocate for young women like me. He encouraged me to take on more responsibility and to feel confident in my role. Eric gave me the opportunity to help with the preparation and review of the president’s remarks, something I never would have had the chance to do if he had not included me.” Wow. Powerful words from Eleanor Roosevelt.
As I said in my opening statement the last time I was with you: Cherish your friends, look out for your friends, lift up your friends, love your friends. And that includes Amy and Julie and Laura and Karen and Susie and Maura and Megan and Nicki. The list goes on. I wish all my friends and family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

[Happy New Year! This year Eric3000, Certified Archivist, presents a long-lost manuscript recently discovered in the church archives of Our Lady of Perpetual Deregulation. Enjoy!]

The Schuyler Sisters’ Holiday Letter 1773

Dearest friends and neighbours,

I embrace this opportunity to enquire as to your health and happiness and, if it should amuse you, communicate a few sentiments to you as well as inform you of some of the events of the past year. This year ‘tis I, Peggy Schuyler, who shall endeavour to write on behalf of the Schuyler Sisters and I pray you do not protest this imposition or take offense at my musings.

First, I should be obliged to you for humouring me as I recount the events that granted me the liberty of a free afternoon to place quill to vellum. My sisters, Angelica and Elizabeth, have gone downtown in search of a “mind at work.” Yes, that is apparently a thing that people do now. They have been embarking on these expeditions for well-nigh a fortnight. I expect they think it sounds better than “flirting with sailors,” but we all know what they are up to. I had actually gone after them this morning and they were all astonishment when they saw me. They asked how it was that I should be there. I told them that I had taken the 405 to the 101 to Laurel Canyon and then taken Sunset to Vermont. They stared in disbelief and then said, “Dear sister, you were a fool not to have taken San Vicente.” I had to explain that I was making a small joke. I reminded them about the pantomime troupe that performs skits on Saturday nights in what will become Rockefeller Centre. They do a skit called “The Californians,” which pokes fun at the Spanish for constantly complaining about all the donkey traffic when traveling about the pueblo of Los Angeles. As usual, nobody knew what I was talking about. 

Anyway, I expressed that their imprudent excursions were causing a perturbation of my spirits, to which Angelica hastily responded, “You are free to go.” So I was like, “whatever.” I told them, “Sisters, if you wish to see me gone, I shall avail myself of the opportunity to write a holiday letter.” They graciously informed me that Michealmas was long past. I said that they knew full well I was referring to the holidays that occur at the end of the calendar year, such as Christmas, Chanukah, New Year’s, and Saint Wiggin’s Day. They said anything that would get me to leave them in peace would be to their satisfaction and that I could write the letter and then they would sign their names to it when they returned home. Oy, with those two. 

Before I took my leave, Elizabeth reminded me of the need to procure stamps. I told her stamps had not yet been invented. She asked why there was a Stamp Act if there were no stamps. I tried to explain that it had to do with taxes and she said, “Oh, yes, just like when the king put the tax on tea, causing the revolt in Boston.” I told her that was a common misperception but that parliament had actually refunded an import tax on British tea in order to make it competitive with smuggled Dutch tea and that was a vexation to the smugglers. So the Boston Tea Party was really in response to reducing taxes, not raising them. I supposed she would find that amusing, but instead she told me, “Peggy, you ruin everything.”

Speaking of which, can you believe George III is still the king? What a nincompoop. He is no better than a common mountebank. An acquaintance actually said to me once, “Well, he had to have done something right if he became king.” I told the person that King George inherited that title and it had nothing to do with his accomplishments. The only thing he knows how to do is colonize a country, slap his name on it, and then run it into the ground. Everything seems to have the royal warrant on it: King George steaks, the Province of Georgia, which is actually not all bad, and, of course, King George University, which is an utter sham! The lessons are just sales pitches to get you to buy a timeshare in the territory of Florida, whatever that means.

Well, other than the constant duels, life has been pretty good. I confess to being a little weary of everyone breaking into song all the time, though. ‘Tis like a def poetry slam every time one walks down the street. Rhymes be the hottest commodity at the moment and ‘tis making fortunes and ruining lives. People have invested their entire life savings in a word and when the rhymes run out, they have been known to jump off a building. Fortunately, our tallest buildings are two stories high and our streets are paved with only the highest quality horse manure, which breaks the fall. But I still wonder when this madness will end. The other day, there was panic and chaos when it appeared that there were no more rhymes for the word “sir.” Experts said it would be worse than the tulip mania of the 1630s or the South Sea bubble of 1720. But then, out of nowhere, Mr. Burr, whose name coincidentally rhymes with “sir,” realized that the word “bursar” would work. We held a parade in his honour.

And Mr. Burr is not the only politician to be speculating in rhymes. I am not at present able to think of another more agreeable than Mr. Hamilton, who has mad rhyming skills and a face straight out of a ten pound promissory note. Elizabeth formed a particular attachment to him and it is now commonly believed they have an understanding. Correction: in the time it took to write that sentence, they became engaged and were wed. Events are full of expediency here. Angelica gave the toast at the wedding and sang a song about how she was secretly in love with our sister’s new husband and that she had actually let her have him. Then she asked, “Oh, did I just sing that out loud?” You can imagine my vexation. I have not the least doubt as to our lack of wanting for all the silliness of a Mozart operetta.

Our compliments to you and yours, &c., &c.,

Your devoted and faithful friends,

Angelica and Elizabeth Schuyler (and peggy)