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Oooh, Tannenbaum!

It's December now, and the Christmas tree industry's booming, and I just can't get my mind around shopping and party hopping, Johnny Mathis and candy canes and marshmallows by the fire. This time of year, I can't seem to think about anything but that most spectacular of species, the Christmas Tree Boy -- that erotic masterpiece, with his athletic swagger, his quick grin, thumbs hooked through his belt loops as he guides customers through the mysteries of Christmas tree buying.

For one blissful month, I see these tall firm boys everywhere -- in dreary parking lots underneath optimistically striped tents, on sweetly scented tree farms that sidle up to two-lane roads north of the city. I even see them slouching curbside at the big discount chain stores. Truth be told, I could probably do without the tree, which is only going to shed and die, but as for the Christmas Tree Boys -- there'd be no Christmas without them.

Where do they come from, these strapping young men with their tight blue jeans, their big hands that smell of evergreen, their scuffed boots and tattered belts, their tousled hair sprinkled with pine straw? You can have your Nautilus men, your gym boys with their bubbling biceps and straining quads; in a test of strength and general stuff, I'll put my money on the Christmas Tree Boys, who make up for what they lack in bulk with their style and sex appeal.

Sadly, the older I get, the more forbidden they seem. They're so young, these holiday lumberjacks -- just boys, really, their faces still flushed from the stress of final exams. I see them and think of picket fences; surely sweet mothers await them with batches of gingerbread cookies, gallons of virgin eggnog. I think of their girlfriends too, who must be blond young things in ribbons and sweater sets. These boys, my lord, they seem to be of another century.

This piece originally appeared five years ago in Salon. This is just a taste. Read the whole shebang here.

My favorite place for trees this year: the lot at 36th and Balbao.