Jess comes home carrying a Santa suit. She’s wearing the beard, which she says is purely because she needed a way to get it up from the car and her arms were full, but Nick is pretty sure it’s because she’s Jess, and part of her has always secretly wondered how she’d look with a Santa beard.
“Guys, I have a favor to ask,” she says. Her beard twitches as she talks.
“No,” Nick says.
“Too bad Santa’s so white,” Winston says, along with a regretful sigh that’s even faker than Jess’s beard.
“But I haven’t even—”
“Say no more,” Schmidt says. He essentially sprints over to Jess, grabs the Santa hat, puts it on, and adjusts it at (what Nick somehow knows is supposed to be) a rakish angle. “Santa S. Claus: reporting for duty. The S stands for ‘sexy.’ Or maybe ‘Shirt, comma, take it off.’”
“Or Simon?” Jess suggests.
“JAR,” Winston says. “To him,” he adds to Jess, “not you. I think ‘Santa Simon’ kinda has a nice ring.”
“Aw. Thank you,” Jess says, smiling.
“You guys. Respect for Santa Sexy? Please?” Schmidt says, frowning. “You are veering wildly off topic.”
“Okay,” Nick says, “this conversation’s over.”
But it isn’t.
“You ever hear that song ‘Santa Baby’?” Schmidt says. He’s in the full suit now. He even got the beard off Jess, but not without a fight. Cece is also here now, because she seems to have developed some sort of Schmidt’s Doing Something Even More Horrendously Weird Than Usual sixth sense.
“Well, yeah, who hasn’t?” Jess says. “When I was a kid, I always used to think that in the song, Santa was an actual baby, which made it really cute – until you paid attention to the whole ‘been an awful good girl’ lyric, which it brought up a lot of questions. Because she sounds so young, you know. ‘Is Santa the result of teen pregnancy?’ Stuff like that. And—”
“Jess,” Schmidt says. “Silence. You’re killing it.”
“No, she’s not, Schmidt,” Nick says. “It’s dead already. Let it stay dead. In fact, it was never born.”
“Pfft! It is as eternal as the hope and joy of Christmas,” Schmidt says, undeterred and, oh, just horrible. “Here’s how it goes: chicks dig Santa. You show a hot chick a hot guy in a Santa suit, hot guy’s bells are getting jingled.”
“I don’t know how many chicks are going to be hanging out at the elementary school Breakfast with Santa—” Jess begins.
“You are so messed up,” Cece says meanwhile to Schmidt.
“Oh yeah,” Schmidt says, going into swagger mode. Or. Trying. “You like that?”
“God help me,” Cece says, “yeah.”
“Well. Cool. Can you just – just hang on for a minute—” He turns around so he’s facing Nick and Winston, and proceeds to silently, giddily scream like a twelve year old girl that just got asked to prom. If they had proms for twelve year olds. Cece and Jess watch. Cece doesn’t even run screaming from the apartment, so maybe she and Schmidt are perfect for each other after all. But still.
“Dude,” Nick says, “she is seriously right there. She’s not even five feet away from you. You’re embarrassing me, and I have nothing to do with it.”
“It’s okay,” Cece says, tilting her head appraisingly. Oh, God. Is she checking out Schmidt’s ass in his Santa pants?
“For you, maybe,” Nick groans.
Schmidt talks about Santa Baby some more. He and Jess sing Santa Baby. All of it. A few times. It really does seem a little like the plot of a Lifetime movie. It goes a little dark. Or maybe Nick is biased because he’s being forced to sit through it. Jess’s sweeping hand gestures also add a certain melancholy.
Jess then sets down some ground rules for Schmidt, which mostly just establish that he’s not allowed to work the ‘S.’ in ‘Santa S. Claus’ for anybody at the breakfast. (Except Ramona the lunch lady, who, according to Jess, has seemed a bit lonely lately.) Schmidt is currently bedazzled by Cece’s splendor, on account of the fact that she’s looking at him, and says that Winston can have Ramona.
“That could work,” Winston says, shrugging. “I like lunch.”
“I’m willing to loan the beard to you for like five minutes,” Schmidt says, “if you think it’ll help you lock it down.”
“God,” Cece says wonderingly, tugging at the beard, “it looks so bad, but I just want to touch it.”
“Not the first time he’s heard that,” Winston says.
“Two things,” Schmidt announces. The first, to Winston: “Shut up.” The second, to Cece: “Marry me.”
Yeah, so. Apartment full of crazy people.
Jess comes over and perches on the arm of the couch next to Nick.
“I still need an elf,” she tells him.
He gives her his best skeptical face. The one he absolutely hasn’t been practicing lately to make sure he doesn’t look like a turtle when he does it. “You really think I would be an elf?”
“You could be the grumpy elf,” she offers, poking him in the arm. “You know, the one that’s all, ‘Grumble grumble, toys, who even likes these! When I was a kid elf, I only played with rocks and clothes pins!’ but then gets it done anyway because even though he’s a grumpy elf with a turtle face—”
“I don’t have a turtle face—”
“—he still has a good heart,” she finishes, and suddenly she’s – that really inconvenient way she gets sometimes. Like if Audrey Hepburn and sunny day picnics and polka dots and candy all got together and somehow had the world’s most radiant love child.
“Jess, I’m not being the grumpy elf,” he says, but somehow, inexplicably, it comes out sounding a lot more like a yes than a no. The corner of her mouth twitches. He elbows her side lightly. “Who are you dressing up as, anyway? Mrs. Claus? A magical Christmas angel? Rudolph?”
“All cool,” she says, “but no. I … am the abominable snowman.”
And as soon as she says it, he can see it. In fact, it’s kinda perfect. Weird perfect, because that’s how it goes with Jess, but.
“No way! Like, from the Rudolph movie? He was always my favorite.”
“Mine too! All white and fuzzy and misunderstood. Plus,” she adds joyfully, “fake teeth!”
“Maybe I’ll stop by,” he surrenders, “to see you in action. But not as an elf.”
“That sounds very nice,” Jess says, and fake-coughs ‘grumpy elf!’ into her hand. Such a dork.
They smile at each other for a minute. Then her eyes get really wide and she – looks down at his feet? So does he. They’re just there. Being feet. On the floor.
“Jess,” he says, “what’s wrong with my feet?”
“Uhhhh,” she says. “Nothing. Cool shoes, bro,” she adds, and punches him on the shoulder. Hard.
“Um,” he says, rubbing his shoulder. “Thanks?”
“Yep!” Jess says. “Yep, yep, yep. Nick is wearing some shoes -- they are ... on his feet right nowwww ...shoes ... Nick's shoes ...”
"Not your best," Nick says.
"Yeah," Jess says, biting her lip, "I was hoping maybe I'd find a rhyme somewhere, but ..."
When the breakfast comes around, Nick’s the grumpy elf. It’s not so bad. (Except when Schmidt – but, no. You really, really don’t want to hear about that. Cece makes out with him anyway.)