Jared Kushner Receives A Gift

And Steve Bannon doesn’t give a fuck about how to pronounce “hygge.”

Image: waferboard via Flickr

JARED’s COLLEAGUES have encircled him like they’re staging an intervention but, in fact, they’re convening for the White House white elephant gift exchange. GENERAL MATTIS, still dressed as Santa Claus, moderates. He picks a name from the #MAGA hat the bust of Winston Churchill was wearing. Because they all not-so-secretly resent each other, they’re fighting about the rules. The loudest mouth prevails.

KELLYANNE CONWAY [standing on a chair, screaming]: Folks, this isn’t rocket science. General Mattis draws a name. If it’s you, select and unwrap a gift. General Mattis draws the next name. That person can choose either the unwrapped gift or pick another one to unwrap. The next person can choose from the two unwrapped gifts, or pick a wrapped one. Et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera.

[It dawns on JARED he will have to open a gift in front of people.]

GENERAL MATTIS [mansplaining, for emphasis]: So, in other words, you want to be the last name picked. [GENERAL MATTIS draws a name, and nods to GARY COHN.] Mr. Tax Man.

GARY COHN [jovially]: Did I really say ninety percent of individuals would be able to file their taxes by postcard?

IVANKA [laughing, for once]: I also said that!

GARY COHN [mimicking a person who files her own taxes]: Hello, from my island! The weather is fine! Because my island doubles as a tax haven, I owe you no taxes! See you in May! [GARY COHN unwraps Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011 and throws it out.] Who the fuck put a book in the fucking gift exchange?

[GENERAL MATTIS whispers to KUSHNER DAUGHTER that he read somewhere it was the only book you should gift this Holiday season. She reminds him that GARY COHN is a listener, not a reader, and that’s why he is so good at sales. She urges the GENERAL to meet people where they are, not where he thinks they should be.]

KELLYANNE CONWAY [still emceeing, but seated]: Frick and Frack, pick the next name.

[GENERAL MATTIS picks KUSHNER DAUGHTER’s name and nods to her. She mischievously play-acts that she will steal Gary’s book, but instead pivots to the largest gift on the table, and excitedly unwraps it.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [shrieking with genuine joy]: It’s an L-O-L Big Surprise! [She turns to IVANKA.] Mom, can I open it?

[IVANKA mouths, “Not yet,” as JARED wonders what an LOL Big Surprise is. He still feels anxious about opening a gift in front of people.]

GENERAL MATTIS [drawing the next name]: Kellyanne.

[KELLYANNE CONWAY decisively takes the LOL Big Surprise from KUSHNER DAUGHTER. EVERYONE groans and boos.]

KELLYANNE CONWAY [clutching her new gift]: Oh, fuck off. Just because I don’t bring them to work with me doesn’t mean I don’t have children.

GENERAL MATTIS [respecting chain of command]: That’s not why we’re booing.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [righteously]: You took a gift from a child.

KELLYANNE CONWAY [not incorrectly]: If you want the moral high ground, I know a few Democrats who will lose in three years you can work for.

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER is a good sport about selecting another gift from the pile. She picks up and shakes a few packages before settling on a rectangular-shaped box. She can hear liquid inside and she hopes it’s a lava lamp. She opens it.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [broadly]: A bottle of whiskey? I’m six.

[JARED takes the gift from his DAUGHTER, figuring if he does so, he won’t have to be called on to open up his own. IVANKA disapprovingly clears her throat.]

JARED [weakly]: I can take the whiskey if I want.

[IVANKA clears her throat again. EVERYONE freaks out because all of a sudden they’re sticklers for rules.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [correctly]: Dad, you haven’t been picked yet. [In fact, JARED will never be picked. GENERAL MATTIS forgot to include his name. For once, his anxiety is misguided.]

GARY COHN [trying to upgrade gifts]: Oh, for fuck’s sake. I’ll take the fucking whiskey.

GENERAL MATTIS [fastidiously]: Gary, it’s not your turn anymore.

GARY COHN [correctly]: Rules are for people who live paycheck to paycheck. I think we can all agree on that?

[EVERYONE does agree about that. GARY COHN takes the whiskey and begins drinking it. KUSHNER DAUGHTER unwraps another gift, this one Tupperware. GENERAL MATTIS and KELLYANNE CONWAY whisper to each other that SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS always does this, pawns off on others Tupperware she’s accumulated because she is a Tupperware Lady.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [demonstrating a level of emotional intelligence unfamiliar to most of her colleagues]: No, no. These are great. I’ve been wanting my mom’s staff to pack my lunch more. The food they serve here is—[KUSHNER DAUGHTER rubs her chest like she has indigestion.]

[STEVE BANNON enters, carrying a Target bag and his animatronic bass. He’s also on the phone with a member of the D.C. press corps. He’s so focused on spinning his own mythology that he’s actually knocked into and toppled a file cabinet. Redacted documents spill everywhere.]

STEVE BANNON [into his phone]: White union members so racist they’re willing to dismantle their own safety net so long as that means black and brown people fall through it. That’s the coalition. [STEVE BANNON reads a document from the file cabinet and smiles, shaking his head.] What do you mean, “And what?” Two or more groups aligning together because of common goals is your definition of coalition, not mine. We won Michigan with my definition. [STEVE BANNON takes a swig from GARY COHN’s whiskey without asking permission, and chases it with an entire Red Bull, which he draws from a pocket of his cargo shorts. GARY COHN exits, because with tax cuts law now, what else is he there for?] This is semantics now. People who’ve liked the drug testing welfare recipients Facebook page are not separate from cops, are not separate from Evangelicals.

KELLYANNE CONWAY [screaming again]: What the fuck, Steve. We’re exchanging Christmas gifts here.

STEVE BANNON [trolling]: Well, isn’t that so frigging higgy.

IVANKA [declaratively]: It’s pronounced HOO-gah

STEVE BANNON [sarcastically]: H-Y-G-G-E is pronounced hoogah? As in, hoogah hoogah? [STEVE BANNON mimes groping someone.] I fucking highly doubt that.

IVANKA [calmly]: Say it however the fuck you want. But it’s a European concept only white people care about so I thought you’d want to know how to pronounce it correctly.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [powerfully]: Steve, shouldn’t you be out pirating porches? You haven’t worked for us since August.

STEVE BANNON [lying]: I’m picking up the rest of my stuff. [He activates the animatronic bass he is holding. It sings “Take Me to the River.”] And giving my dude, Jackie, his Hanukkah gift. [He tosses a package of adult diapers at JARED. KUSHNER DAUGHTER intercepts them and tells her staff that accidents happen, and STEVE BANNON of all people should know that, since he helped orchestrate her grandfather’s extremely unlikely victory last November.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [sternly]: Hanukkah’s over, Steve. Now please leave, so we can finish our holiday obligations. [KUSHNER DAUGHTER catches herself.] Sorry, our Christmas obligations. I don’t mean to be political on your way out the door.

[STEVE BANNON does not leave. He drinks another Red Bull as GENERAL MATTIS draws IVANKA’s name next. She opens the only envelope on the table, a voucher for opera singing lessons, and sighs disappointedly. Her DAUGHTER offers to trade with her—singing is fun, she says—but IVANKA declines. She’d rather be unhappy than play nicely with others, and what would she do with all that Tupperware? She usually goes out to lunch. JARED, lost in his head, stands up, then sits down, then stands up again. Finally, he walks off, the thought of someone drawing and announcing his name, too much to bear.]