Friday, November 11, 2016

Christmas Cookie: The Story of Sugar Plum Love

“Hey there, Christmas Cookie can I kiss you?” called one of the ice-skaters across the ice to a lovely young woman. 

“Sugar Plum, I am not your Christmas Cookie,” the woman replied to the man before he could say anything else. 

Defiantly, she landed a Salchow—an edge jump—right in his face, causing him to do a toe loop jump as a response.

Other skaters practiced on the ice in between their maneuvers, ignoring the banter between the two skaters. 

“Well, you sure are my Christmas Cookie!” he said, skating her direction and making an abrupt stop with his skates. He grabbed her hand and twirled her on the ice. “We have hours of practice to prepare for our Christmas Eve skate,” he said. 

“You might have hours, but I only have minutes,” the skater said, as she flipped her long chestnut hair in his direction.

Each Christmas Eve, the Rockefeller Center Skaters put on a spectacular ice show at the Rink at Rockefeller Center. 

Only steps from Times Square and the Broadway Theater District, visitors gathered all month long for skating lessons until the 24th of December. Then, everyone in New York City gathered on the plaza beside the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to enjoy the holiday event. This year, Cookie Roberts and Ernest Plum were the featured skaters in the festivities. However, the duo didn’t always get along as one might expect, mostly due to Ernest’s unrequited love for Cookie. 

“We can practice now, but you’re only allowed to touch me here and there,” Cookie said, putting his hands on her shoulders and back. “If you tell me you love me one more time, I’m getting the skating coach and finding a new partner.” 

“What’s wrong if I love you?” Ernest said. “You could have a skating partner that hates you and that would be horrible.”

“You’ve been sending postal packages to my apartment every month for years, and then twelve gifts each Christmas,” she said. “I gave you nothing. This is not exactly the way it is supposed to work. I never sent you one package ever.”

“Maybe it’s better if we don’t talk about this right now,” Ernest said to Cookie. “So much better to skate with you . . .”

“Oh, fine,” Cookie said. “We have to prepare for Christmas Eve. Everyone in New York City will be watching.”

Although there are six figure skating jumps, the most difficult is the Axel, an edge jump with its extra half rotation. 

“I have to get the Axel jump down,” Cookie said, doing a forward takeoff and barely landing backwards.

“Don’t fall, Christmas Cookie,” Ernest said, skating by her and taking her hand. “Let me catch you, darling.”

“I’m going to try again,” Cookie said. “And I’m going to get it perfect this time. Do not touch me. I can do it alone.”

With that, Cookie took off in the forward direction, spun in the air, and landed on her bum, instead of her skate. 

“Why? I think I broke my ankle,” she cried, as Ernest skated over to her. “I can’t believe this. We have to perform!”

“I’ll carry you to the emergency room,” Ernest said, scooping her up into his arms and skating across the ice. 

“Carry me to the emergency room?” she said. “I told you not to touch me. Now everyone will think I love you, too!”

“My darling, Christmas Cookie!” Ernest said, walking up the stairs at Rockefeller Center, carrying her in his skates. 

“Put me down!” Cookie yelled at Ernest. “Right now! I just cannot let you carry me all the way to the emergency room.”

“I’m so sorry, but I can’t put you down in the middle of the plaza when you’re injured!” he said, kissing her on the cheek.

“Kissing me in public is not part of the deal!” Cookie said, kicking her injured leg and flailing her arms. 

Ignoring her protest, Ernest caught a taxicab on Fifth Avenue to Rockefeller University Hospital in Manhattan. 

With exhaustion, Cookie fell asleep in the cab, and when she woke up, Ernest was singing “Auld Lang Syne” to her from the chair next to her bed in the emergency room. “What are you doing New Year’s Eve, darling?” Ernest said. 

“I’ll be taking a hot bath in my apartment with candles and a cup of tea,” she said, brushing her hair from her face. 

“What if I took you out dancing on New Year’s Eve instead?” Ernest said. “I’d love to ring in the New Year with you!”

“Are you ever going to give up?” Cookie said. “This latest stunt of carrying me to the emergency room during a crisis was sweet, but it doesn’t change much. We have a business relationship. You are my ice-skating partner. That’s it.”

More hurt than ever, Ernest stood up slowly and walked to the door of the hospital room, still in his ice skates.

“At this rate, I’m thinking you hurt your leg, so I couldn’t skate with you,” Ernest said. “I quit. Skate with someone else.” 

“Wait!” Cookie said, as Ernest walked out of the emergency room. “There’s not time to find someone to replace you.”

The next morning, Cookie returned to the Rink at Rockefeller Center, explaining to her coach that she injured her foot, but it would be better for the Christmas Eve performance. “The bad news is that Ernest quit being my partner,” she said. 

“What do you mean he quit?” Cookie’s coach said. “This is a nightmare. I guess you’ll have to skate with Roy.”

“Thank you so much,” Cookie said. “Roy and I can start practicing in a few days when my ankle is better. We’ll be ready.” 

By Christmas Eve, Cookie and Roy dazzled New York City in their white jump suits with silver sparkles on them. 

However, the performance had less heart and soul than when Cookie skated with Ernest. More than once, she almost fell. 

While Ernest would have supported her temperament, Roy made Cookie follow him as the center of attention. 

Relieved, Cookie barely landed the Axel jump, and when she looked up, she saw Ernest watching her from the plaza. 

“It would have been better if I had skated with Ernest,” Cookie whispered to herself amidst the applause. 

“Our performance was robotic and not at all emotional,” she said to herself while bowing. “What did I do?”

Before leaving the ice rink, Roy shook Cookie’s hand and ran to meet his wife, giving her a hug with their son. 

“I took Ernest for granted,” Cookie said, looking at her skates. “I should have appreciated him more . . .”

After spending Christmas Day with her parents in Upper Manhattan, she spent the rest of the holiday week shopping.

This year, unlike the past several years, she received no gifts from Ernest, so there was nothing piled underneath her tree.

By New Year’s Eve, she plunged into a bubble bath of hot water with her turn table on the bathroom counter, playing Ella Fitzgerald. She closed her eyes and relaxed, waiting for New Year’s Day. Drinking a cup of tea with extra honey, she had almost forgotten about losing Ernest, but it was hard to forget about him when she was all alone in the candlelight.

“Christmas Cookie!” she heard someone say, knocking on her apartment door. “Are you there? Happy New Year!”

Cookie grabbed the robe beside the bathtub, swung it around her, and ran to the door to see who was visiting her. 

“Who would be visiting me on New Year’s Eve at this time?” she said to herself, looking through the peep hole.

“Ernest!” she said, opening the door wide enough to see his face. “Will you ever forgive me? I’m so sorry!”

“I forgive you, Cookie,” Ernest said. “Will you be my partner? I can’t bear to be without you. I miss you so much.”

“Yes, Ernest,” she said. “I’ll be your partner. I didn’t know how special you were until you were gone.”

Ernest grabbed Cookie and kissed her. Then, she quickly got dressed, so the duo could head out to watch the ball drop in Times Square. While counting down the minutes until the New Year, Ernest grabbed a bag of leftover Christmas cookies from his jacket and handed them to Cookie. She smiled eating a chocolate chip cookie from the batch.

“You’ll always be my Christmas Cookie,” he said, pulling a wedding ring from the bag. “Will you marry me?”

“Yes, Sugar Plum,” Cookie said. “I’ll marry you! As long as you don’t stop sending me gifts and telling me you love me.”

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters 

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