It was October 25, 2000, exactly two months before Christmas, and the traditional day that Santa Claus held ElfFest, a daylong series of motivational seminars designed to "celebrate the elf" and to whip Claus' workforce into a frenzy for the two busy months ahead.
ElfFest 2000 was shaping up to be the greatest ElfFest ever. Speakers included Zig Ziglar (author of The World Loves a Happy Elf), Tony Robbins (author of Awakening the Elf Within), Barbara Bush ("America's Favorite First Lady") and her husband, former U.S. President George Bush.
(Incidentally, in case you were wondering how a toymaker who gives away his yearly inventory is able to host a motivational seminar that costs corporate mavens hundreds of dollars to attend, the fact is that Santa Claus gets a small cut of the royalties each time a song mentioning his name is played during November and December every year. Such is Claus' clout that he even makes money from Santa-related songs that are downloaded from NAPSTER, a fact that makes Santa Claus mightier than Metallica.)
After a day of being celebrated, Santa's elves were totally pumped up! Anticipation was high because word had spread of a special surprise musical act. Finally, former President Bush wrapped up his stirring keynote address, "A Kindler, Gentler Elf," and ended the suspense by shouting, "OK, Elves. You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the coldest part of the world, KISS!"
The crowd went wild! Peter Criss, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons, known the world over as KISS, hit the stage riding fire-breathing reindeer and immediately launched into their classic "Detroit Rock City," which they cleverly sang as "North Pole Rock City." Old-timer elves who remembered KISS' last performance at an ElfFest back in 1977 were amazed as the band handled the complex time signatures of "Detroit Rock City" just as well as they did "back in the day."
The concert was a huge hit, the perfect way to end the perfect ElfFest. KISS played for over two hours, mixing up their own hits like "Christine Sixteen," "Calling Dr. Love," and "Cold Gin" with more traditional holiday fare, including a touching "I'll Be Home For Christmas" that was clearly based on the classic Bing Crosby arrangement of the tune.
As the show reached its climax, Gene Simmons told the crowd, "You know, we're just four guys who make music for a living. But you guys! Man, you guys are Santa's Elves! You'll always be rock'n'roll stars to us!" Paul Stanley jumped in to say, "That's right, so we want you to rock'n'roll all night and par-tee every day!" KISS then launched into their signature song, "Rock'n'Roll All Night," bringing out George and Barbara Bush (both in full KISS makeup) to sing back up. ElfFest 2000 ended on that triumphant note.
The elves were motivated beyond belief after spending the day with Zig, Tony, Barbara, George, Ace, Paul, Gene and Peter. Unfortunately, disaster was about to rear its ugly head and only KISS would be able to save the day...and save Christmas.
The problem was that Santa had personally overseen every detail of ElfFest 2000 except for one, the catering. Claus was in a big hurry by the time he had to hire a caterer for the daylong affair, so he asked his "trusted" advisor, Jaffaro Davillo, to find a caterer.
This was a big mistake on Santa's part, as Davillo was secretly in the employ of one Scroogo McGrinch, a Christmas/Santa-hating caterer who just happened to live in nearby northern Greenland. McGrinch prepared a sumptiously tasty spread for the hungry elves, every morsel of which was saturated with a magical potion designed to put the elves in a deep sleep beginning on November 1st and ending on December 26nd.
And so it was that on one dreary day in mid-November, Santa Claus said, "Oh, dear Mrs. Claus, what will I do? All my elves are sleeping and Christmas is just a little over a month away."
"Oh, c'mon Santa, get a grip," replied Mrs. Claus, who thought that sometimes Santa just whined too much. "Why don't you call up that nice rock combo that played at ElfFest 2000. You know, KISS. Don't they have an army or something?"
"Mrs. Claus, you are a genius!" cried Santa. "They do have the KISS Army of loyal fans. I'll call them now." Santa reached for the telephone and dialed.
"KISS, Inc. This is Ace. How may I direct your call?" This is how Ace Frehley answered Santa's call because, even though the band had been a huge success for over 25 years, the members of KISS still answered their own phones.
When Ace learned of Santa's problem, he was only too happy to help since he felt that saving Christmas would help cheer the band up. Everything had been fine for KISS at ElfFest, but now the band's spirit was sagging, largely because of a controversial electoral situation that had cropped up in early November.
It seems that, each year, the national office of the United States KISS Army would instruct the Army chapters in each state to vote for their favorite KISS guy, who would then win the coveted Favorite KISS Guy of the Year award. Usually the contest was run smoothly, but this year the results were perilously close. In fact, with the results of 49 states tabulated, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were in a statistical deadheat to be named Favorite KISS Guy 2000. Florida, which had been prematurely called for Stanley, was the only hold-out state. The results of the Florida race would decide the election but, before Florida votes could be properly tabulated, the United States Supreme Court inexplicably stepped in and declared Peter Criss the Favorite KISS Guy 2000, noting his "pioneering work in the world of rock balladry with his lovely hit single, 'Beth'." Justice Clarence Thomas, the lone dissenter, noted icily, "I'm not even sure why we're involved in this, and besides, I was always more of a Gene Simmons fan anyway."
The disputed election resulted in bad vibes for both band members and fans, so Ace saw the opportunity to save Christmas as the perfect chance for reconciliation and healing. He told Santa KISS would love to help.
So here is what KISS did. They mobilized KISS Army members worldwide, telling them to put the post-election acrimony behind them and to head straight up to the North Pole to start making toys. Army members immediately packed their bags and headed north.
While this was happening, KISS got the publicity machine moving. Always a media-savvy band, KISS held dozens of interviews and press conferences to let the world know that they, KISS, would be saving everyone's Christmas this year.
At one of the press conferences, MTV News anchor Kurt Loder asked if there was an incongruity in the idea that a band whose name was once rumored to stand for "Knights In Service to Satan," would now be saving Christmas. Gene Simmons replied, "Well you know that Satan rumor was always completely unfounded. We've always treated KISS as a band, but also as a business operation and anytime the CEOs start dabbling in Satanism, the business plan ultimately suffers."
Ace chimed in, noting the band's '77 ElfFest appearance and saying, "So you see, we've always really been Knights in Service to Santa."
Finally, it was Christmas Eve and all was ready. KISS Army members turned out to be crack toymakers, so Santa's bags were bulging as he and the guys from KISS boarded the sleigh to make the big trip around the world. KISS even brought along coupons good for two bucks off their last album, Psycho Circus, to stuff in every stocking. KISS started playing "Shout It Out Loud" as the sleigh took off and Santa yelled, "Merry KISSmas to all! And to all a good night..."
(Please feel free to email to others who may be interested or to print a hard copy for them but remember: The Dichotomy of the Dog is copyright 2000 by Rich Wilhelm. If you plan on making a bazillion dollars from this piece of writing, please let me know so I can sue you or something.)