In hindsight, Bash can see why adding a Dirty Santa exchange to the first-ever GLOW Christmas party was a mistake.
It had all seemed like such a good idea at the time. GLOW was a hit with the network and the fans. They were back on solid, if not unlimited financial grounds, and the last six months had been a whirlwind of promotion, training, and matches in front of larger and larger crowds. They all deserved to cut loose and enjoy themselves a little, and what better way to do that than a big Christmas blowout? Bash had always loved a traditional Christmas with all the trimmings- decorations, carols, gifts, eggnog and whatnot. But what he was really enchanted by was the idea of a Christmas with his arms around all the people he cared for; his own family didn’t really do emotion- or touching.
The party started fantastically, with everyone admiring Florian’s decorations and rocking out to the tunes. Even Sam was tapping his feet and jerking his head in an approximation of dancing. They actually figured out how to attach a beard and Santa hat to the robot. It’s the little things that count the most.
The trouble really started when Melrose spiked the eggnog. Of course, it was already super alcoholic. Why she didn’t know that he would already have taken care of that was beyond him, but Bash generally didn’t try to question the way Melrose’s brain worked. Regardless, she had sidled up to the punchbowl of bourbon-laced eggnog and tipped an entire handle of vodka into it, and that was the beginning of the end.
Before long, Cherry and Keith were slow dancing and grinding in the middle of the floor. Aesthetically, Bash could appreciate the show, but he was a little afraid they might actually get down to business and the rugs really were very expensive. Next to them, Justine and Billy looked even more young and inexperienced by comparison, though they gamely twirled and stomped their Anarchistic little hearts out. It was kind of adorable.
Rhonda, Carmen, Arthie and Jennie all danced together in a circle, giggling and swirling in and around each other in a dizzying pattern. As the vodka kicked in, the group got wilder and more exuberant, pulling in Sheila and Reggie and Stacey and Dawn, with Tamme in middle throwing Florian into a series of dips. It was like one of the all-hands wrestling scrums at the end of matches, only with more laughter and less hair-pulling.
Bash had been tempted to join them, but he had gotten hold of a batch of Christmas crackers after Rhonda had told him how she always had them at home in England on Christmas Day, so instead he ducked back down the hallway toward the kitchen where he thought he remembered stashing the box. He was almost through the door when he heard voices and stopped short just out of sight.
“So… I got you something for Christmas.”
Debbie sat on a bar stool, jostling Randy back and forth gently as she tried to get him to nod off for good. Ruth leaned against the countertop, trying and failing to look casual. The present sat in front of Debbie, wrapped somewhat haphazardly in the funny papers.
Debbie reached out a hand and ripped the paper back from one crinkled edge, revealing a bottle of tequila that Bash thought was Debbie’s favorite brand.
“Ruth,” Debbie said warily, quirking her eyebrows in that way she did when she was trying to work out what was really going on in a scene. “You didn’t need to do that.”
Ruth said quickly, “I know, I know. I just wanted to. To show my appreciation for all the hard work you’ve put into the show this past year.” She picked at the stem of her wine glass, very pointedly not looking at Debbie or even in her general direction. “It hasn’t been easy, dealing with… everything. And I know we’re not friends like we used to be and we really can’t be again, but I couldn’t stand the thought of a Christmas without exchanging gifts or at least giving you a present, so…”
Debbie sat silently for a minute, only her arms moving gently and her back swaying as Randy’s eyelids closed and opened ever more slowly.
“Do you remember…” she asked haltingly. “Do you remember the first Christmas after I got cast on Paradise Cove, and I had to go to the big production Christmas party, so I pulled out the jewelry set my Nana had given me…”
“And you wore that huge tacky necklace that turned your neck green!” Ruth chortled. “I remember you called me from a payphone outside the hotel to see if I knew any way to turn it back.”
“I was so embarrassed, and Mark offered to lend me his tie to make a scarf or something out of it.” Debbie stopped abruptly, the mention of Mark casting a chill over the reminiscence. Of course, he came up in conversation, it would be weird if he didn’t, but it always caused a little bit of strain.
Debbie drew a deep breath and looked Ruth in eyes. “Ruth, it can’t be the same again. But I want you to know that I’m sorry for taking everything out on you, especially at the beginning. I was so angry- angry at you, angry at Mark, angry at myself for being so stupid.”
“You weren’t!” Ruth tried to interject, but Debbie raised a hand to stop her.
“I felt stupid. But it wasn’t just because of the affair. It was about my life and my career and having a baby and a lot of things. Not just you and Mark.”
Ruth nodded slowly. “Well, apology accepted. And I’m sorry again. For everything.”
Bash smiled to himself, turned and headed back up the hallway away from the kitchen. No need to interrupt them when things seemed to be going so well. The crackers could wait.
Not long after, they began playing Dirty Santa, and Bash realized his mistake. These girls were amazing, and they all loved each other like a real family. But that didn’t mean Carmen wouldn’t put Sheila in a hammerlock for stealing a like-new griddle pan someone had found in a charity shop and added to the present stash.
And then Sam had thought it was funny for his gift to be porn, and Melrose complained that it wasn’t even GOOD porn, which started a shouting match about the merits of rival porn studios. In the end, things dissolved back into a general melee and all Bash could do was frantically motion Florian to move the breakables. But he wouldn’t have it any other way.