Gurney's Inn
January 10, 2007

Kiss & Tell

I Shot The Nativity Scene But I Didn't Steal The Baby Jesus

One of my inspirations for the new year was to revisit my filmmaker roots. This manifested in a short film or technically video I'm making about a girl with a dead dad and dog who rediscovers faith and love through a pair of wooden reindeer. Hold the phone Hollywood!

One of my locations was the nativity scene set up on Main Street in Sag Harbor. The lighted plastic figures of the crèche are nestled upon a hay strewn platform by the Allan Schneider now the Corcoran Group offices. As my character lifted her wooden deer to join the plastic donkey and cow on their holy watch, she stopped cold. In between Mary and Joseph was a blank spot of hay. Cut! Someone had stolen the baby Jesus.

What has happened to our safe little town that someone would steal the baby Jesus from the Christmas nativity scene? I mean maybe a shepherd or a wise man, but the baby Jesus? That's sacrilege.

"But you're doing a scene where some guy is ogling your thong," my friend reminded me.

"This is a sweet love scene," I retorted.

Signs of something gone wrong here in our bucolic village are, like the missing babe in swaddling clothes, not immediately apparent, but if you look closely, very disturbing. Graffiti has appeared on stop signs and houses and if I get my hands on whoever "AMP" is I'm going to utilize his or her desire to paint everything and have them repaint the Whaling Museum, with a water color brush.

It used to be that spray painted sayings were limited to the enigmatic "Virgil is a frog boy" or "Class of 2005" under a railroad bridge. But now the old Bulova Factory in Sag Harbor looks like the South Bronx.

Our enlightened town officials, in an effort to stop cars parking down the lanes leading to the beaches have replaced the seasonal eye sore with large metallic No Parking signs every 15 feet. I have always loved the Bridgehampton Club, which, because it is private, has not a single sign but one next to the beach path, which reads "For those who need to be close." Bravo.

I remember the days, not so long ago, when I would never lock a door. At worst what would happen in unused houses during the winter is the owner would arrive in spring to a bit of a mess and an empty liquor cabinet. Now fancy security systems are de rigueur and after all the beach burglaries (my car included) I leave my purse at home before driving there for a walk.

So it's not just the Knights Of Columbus' plastic baby Jesus which was stolen (unless some sort of Grinch character took it in for repair) but our collective sense of innocence and faith. Will our crèche characters now come with sensors like those to stop shoplifting at the mall? Will we have to bathe unused buildings in barbed wire? Will beach walks be wrought with more fine print than pharmaceutical ad side effects?

Maybe the sheriff will take on the nativity case, yet I fear witnesses will say they weren't sure exactly what happened to Jesus but they did see an odd girl lurking around the manger, and it wasn't Mary.

So, to all those thieves out there who would try to steal what is dear to us, I say be warned — there's an angry filmmaker out there who might just catch you in the act, and watch out — I'm ready to shoot.

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