With Celeste, Jake's girlfriend, away for Christmas, Charlie teaches Jake how to cheat on her, but this backfires when Celeste returns moments before Jake arrives with a girl he picked up on the beach, landing Charlie in hot water with Chelsea in the process. Meanwhile, Evelyn brings ailing TV personality Marty Pepper to Charlie's Christmas gathering. At the dinner table, everyone trash-talks to Charlie after the cheating incident.
It's holiday time at the Harper house and it has everything you'd expect—booze, singing, womanizing, and an old man soiling himself. This year, Alan has written the Harper Christmas newsletter to send out. Now, I sometimes get newsletters in lieu of a Christmas card and for me it just seems a little too impersonal. Unfortunately, there was nothing impersonal about this newsletter. In it we learn that Jake passed his class by the skin of his ass, Charlie is single no more after getting engaged to a lady, not a whore, and Evelyn rejuvenated her secret garden—turns out nothing rhymes with vulva. I think the best part of the scene, besides the poem of course, was Alan's responses, in his best Oliver Twist accent, to Charlie's bah-humbug attitude. I'm not sure if Alan was hitting the sauce or if the holidays just puts him in a jolly mood, but he was downright witty!
The real story of the evening, though, involves Charlie giving Jake some much unneeded advice about how to cheat. Charlie notices Jake scamming on some girl down at the beach and gives him a hard time for not going down to meet them. Jake reminds Charlie that he's in a committed relationship and, in turn, Charlie reminds Jake that he's only 13 (though he's actually 15) and shouldn't be tied down so young. Maybe Charlie is feeling a bit too tied down himself at the young age of 40 (though he's actually 42), because it seems that he wants to live vicariously through Jake. After much prodding, Jake finally agrees to go talk to the girl. Throughout the evening, and despite Alan's repeated objections, Charlie helps Jake with the rules.
OK, the rules of getting the girl without your girl finding out are as follows:
Your life doesn't stop when your girlfriend isn't around (though that is the deal Celeste and Jake agreed to).
Don't bring the grape soda to her—bring her to the grape soda (that way she can see what a cool house you have).
Be sure to text your girlfriend so that she doesn't suspect anything.
Any time you have a chance with some out-of-town strange, you should take it.
You should wear protection if you plan to deck her halls.
Unfortunately, Charlie has no rules to help prepare Jake for when Celeste shows up unexpectedly with his Christmas present, and finds Jake with the other girl. As soon as the new girl learns of Jake's girlfriend she storms off, the now ex-girlfriend leaves in a huff, and Chelsea gives Charlie a look that would castrate a lesser man!
In other Harper family news, Evelyn brings a Hollywood producer to the Christmas Eve dinner. Mr. Pepper, played by the ridiculously funny Carl Reiner, is a wheelchair-bound spitfire whom Evelyn just couldn't bear to see spending the evening alone in his $60 million estate—and with the $2 million she could make off of selling his house when he buys the farm, who could blame her? It turns out that he knows Lucille Ball wasn't a true redhead. He's willing to share with them how he knows but warns them, "It's dirty." and complains that he's sitting so close to the fire his chestnuts are roasting. In the end, it looks as though Mr. Pepper really does pass away. He slumps over and is unresponsive. As Evelyn mentally calculates her commission, Mr. Pepper awakens to say "She thinks she's going to sell my house when I'm gone. But I ain't going!" Then he looks down at his lap and realizes "Oops. I am going."