“But what if there are bears on the plane?”
“Sir, I can assure you there are no bears on the plane.”
“Have you personally checked the plane yourself? For bears in particular, I mean? ‘Cause sometimes when you’re just looking around for general hazards you might miss ‘em, because your mind isn’t deliberately looking for bears, I mean. I can understand that, happens to me too. Like when I’m making sure I’ve got both kids in the car after going grocery shopping. To be honest, most times I’m just doing a quick headcount. But it’s those times that only mid-point on the drive home do I notice in the mirror that one of ‘em’s Hispanic all of a sudden and-“
“Sir, there are no bears on any plane-“
“What about a zoological transport plane? Maybe our plane was hired as one just prior to our flight and they missed one? Maybe a cub in the overhead bins?”
“Pepper spray, and this INCLUDES your bear spray, is a restricted product in aviation transportation. I have no choice but to confiscate it, period.”
… Damn. She was tough.
“If I slipped you ten bucks would you keep it for me ‘till I get back?”
Nothing but a stern look was her reply.
“Ooo! And I’ll even throw in a pack of Fruit n’ Veggie gummies?” I pulled out a children’s snack packet out of my back pocket.
She was no doubt on the verge of handcuffing me when my wife yanked me (a touch harshly, I might add) towards the rear of the lineup for airport security, muttering something under her breath, probably asking sweet baby Jesus for another mug of spiritual strength. In hindsight, she might have saved me the uncomfortable awkwardness of a body-cavity search (I mean, are you supposed to maintain eye contact with them during the exam? Is dinner with the agent a pre-requisite? I just never know how to behave in public.)
We didn’t mean to bring the bear spray. It just kinda hitched a ride with us, like a capsaicin stowaway. We unfolded the stroller at the airport, and voilà, there it was, our ever-present backwoods trail companion. The bags were checked, so sneaking it into the baggage hold was not an option, and we’d parked remotely, having taken a courtesy bus from the parkade. I tried leaving the spray at the “information/lost and found” booth, but seeing as how we were booked for a wickedly early flight, the booth was still unattended and quite closed, attendants decidedly preferring to deal with bear-spray wielding idiots at a more sensible hour.
Still wandering around while carrying my young daughter, I briefly thought about ditching the aerosol can behind a bench or dark corner somewhere and hope it would still be there upon our return over a week later, but I’ve seen too many terrorist action movies to know that the multitude of security cameras keeping an eye on things would probably betray me, leaving my wife to wonder where she went wrong so many years ago. Sigh. Always the bad boys.
So, I had no choice but to allow the lovely, physically superior security officer to take my bear spray while I witnessed little stacks of winged money flapping away with it, and joined my family at the gate to board a (supposedly) bear-less plane bound for California.
A cousin was getting married, and what better excuse for a stretched-out family vacation? A little mountain getaway for a few days, with relaxing trail walks and games by a fire, followed by a beautiful wedding with delicious free food, and finishing with a sunny visit to San Diego and the aquatic wonders of Seaworld with the family… it had all the promise of a terrific trip, and really, it was.
Yes, yes, the kids drove us nuts a lot of the time, what with the disrupted sleep schedules and the constant stimulus and the acclimating to eating out all the time and new toys and souvenirs and lockable bedroom doors and LIGHT SWITCHES THAT ARE SUDDENLY WITHIN REACH WHILE TRYING TO COOK SOME FRIGGIN’ DINNER?!!
All par for the course when it comes to travelling with children, I suppose. Or having children, for that matter. But the smiles of new experiences and discoveries make it all worth it, even if the checkbook doesn’t balance once the travel bills come in. To a point, of course. We had a good enough read on our munchkins to know that cashing in our RSP’s for admission to the bigger theme parks would be like hucking pearls at piggies. Seaworld was a good bet, though; ya just can’t go wrong with dolphins.
And California’s nice. Good people, easy climate, and oh good gravy, are the roads ever smooooooth… We really noticed the difference this time for some reason (maybe it’s a sign of age; I’m now more concerned with taxpayer stuff.) While our roads are subjected to the relentless onslaught of seasons (don’t give me that lip, California. You have summer, that’s it. Any cold spots you have actually belong to Oregon,) the mind-boggling freeways of southern California are watched over by fairies and sprites and elves, where every journey is like floating in the clouds.
Except for the drivers.
Can you believe we never received a single wave from merging traffic? Nothing! I tells ya, they were lucky to be sharing the road with a nice, laid-back Canadian on vacation.
But I could understand that, really. I’m sure very few people pick “Wave appreciatively at fellow motorists” when they register their vehicles. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Obviously, you’re not from around there. Let me lay it out for you, my friend.
When we got our rental car we were able to choose which laws we would abide by, kind of a motoring à-la-carte thingy. It’s California law. Don’t ask me why, I just vacay down there. There’s no maximum, but you need a minimum of 5 “law abides” for any car on the road. We scrolled down an expansive list while our children went through the luggage of people standing in line at the rental agency.
• Use of turn indicator while changing lanes.
We’re good little Canadians. Of course we picked that one. If we’d known no one else in California bothered with it, we would have skipped it, choosing to flip lanes Indianapolis 500 style. I should have clued in when “Turn indicator” was a hardware option when we selected our vehicle. Cost an extra four bucks.
• Speed beyond safe limits, up to Warp Five.
Shit, why not? We were on vacation. Less time on the road meant more time relaxing. Oh wait, I remembered we had kids. Relaxing isn’t in their programming. Eh, thought we’d try it anyway. Good thing too, ‘cause I’m pretty sure everyone had that one. Any freeway we were on, the flow of traffic was set minimum at 10mph faster than the posted limit. Once, we were chugging along with the rest of the freeway goers at 90mph (signs meekly displayed a max of 65mph), and a Sheriff was in the mix, not pulling over a soul, no camera flashes anywhere. All seven lanes (this is just one direction, mind you) were packed, wall to wall traffic as far as the eye could see, and eerily quiet as we moved in unison far ahead the wall of sound. Obviously, the Californians got organized ahead of time. “What’re they gonna do, pull us all over?! Yeah right, dude. Weeeeeeehaw!”
We topped off our selections with Use headlights at night, Stop at most stop signs, and Mandatory bird-flipping when honked at. I’m not much for bird-flipping other motorists, but hey, when in Rome. I didn’t want to miss out on tradition, you know?
But we must have missed a few on that list, being distracted with the kids committing felonies and all that, because it seemed most drivers had selected something akin to Drive however the fuck you want because no one got pulled over for anything. Motorcycles zipped between cars on the dotted lines, drivers didn’t slow down in school zones. But, to be fair, the signs always stated ‘Maximum 25mph, WHEN CHILDREN PRESENT’. The hell is that?
“Your honor, we the defendant feel that my client should not be held responsible, because that kid really was a short sumbitch.”
*Wham* “Case dismissed. Next!”
…And not to mention passenger-less motorcycles in the carpool lane. Uhh, were we the only ones to see these guys?
But there is something about weaving through traffic like a cannonball racer bent on breaking the record. It’s a game, and if I were stuck dealing with a million other cars on multi-lane freeways on my way to work every day, I’d probably take it up right quick just to keep it interesting. Shoot, after the first day battling traffic I was on board. “Get ouddadaway, dammit! I’ve got some relaxin’ to do!”
But that stuff needs to stay in the states, I’ll tell ya. I like the laid-back I’ll-get-there-eventually attitude of driving up in Canada. Sure, the driving in the big cities can be a touch busy here in the Great White-Most-of-the-Time North, but it’s nothing compared to the likes of L.A. Did you know Mad Max Fury Road was filmed at the dropoff/pickup area at LAX airport? They didn’t even needed modded vehicles and makeup, that’s actual footage.
But it does give me an edge for when I get back on Canadian Roads. When I pull out at intersections now I’m leaps ahead of the other drivers, sometimes wondering if the light was still red when I stomped on the gas. My turn indicator lever is collecting dust from marginal use, and I see speed limit signs as more of a suggestion than – whoa! Barely missed that pothole… I’d better slow down.
Meh. It’s a nice day anyway, and the view is beautiful.
“Camping rule number one: Neveh get the same sleeping bag as your spouse’s; that way they can’t zip ‘em together an’ you get that draft in the middle ‘cause it doesn’t seal properly. Then you’re cold all night and you regret all your life decisions, eyh.”
That’s from a New Zealand buddy of mine (Conveniently, I didn’t have to go to the other side of the planet to find him, either. I found ‘im right here in western Canada. Apparently we import the silly things. So, please, go back and read that first paragraph in a kiwi accent, it adds a bit of flavour to his stance on the particular issue.) For privacy reasons, let’s just call him Jason. ‘Cause that’s his name. And I don’t feel like trying to remember a pseudonym as I write.
Jason’s a true romantic, if you couldn’t tell. But even more than that, he’s as practical as a spork.
He’s an adventurer, and explorer, an outdoor mountain nut. Jay’s unruly beard simultaneously earns him wins in “mossy tree look-alike” contests and impossibly frequent body cavity searches at airports.
But he’s my kiwi. My adventure buddy out here, where the mystique of the mountains flirt with my psyche incessantly. I’ve climbed with him (sport and ice), hiked, snowboarded, and enjoyed countless mountain biking adventures with the guy.
So whenever I’m struck with the moronic impulse to subject myself to Mother Nature’s unpredictable temperament in the form of a physical activity I’m irrefutably ill-prepared for, I know I can count on Jason not to have enough sense to oppose coming along and even organizing things.
“We’re going camping, honey,” I tell my wife. “Me and Jay. Jay an’ me. Jay an’ I.”
“”Umm, it’s winter. Are you nuts? You’ll freeze.”
“Pshaw, I say! It’ll be fine. We’re just going one night, anyway. I’ve always wanted to try it.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Canuckian mean temperatures at this time of year, it’s quite nippy. Nipply. As in glass-cuttingly. Weather forecasts that week were calling for overnight lows of minus 20 to minus 30, Celsius. And with the impressive insulating factor of a nylon tent, we would be sure to feel every one of those frigid little sub-zero gradations.
I wouldn’t let my endothermic wife deter me. She would never understand. I just had to try it. The looming possibility of frostbite just added to the allure of the whole thing. For some unknown reason.
Luckily for me, as well as having an insatiable hunger for all things outdoors, Jason just happened to be a professional expedition guide in New Zealand. Which means an entire room in his apartment is peanut butter-packed tight with all manner of outdoor gear, relentlessly begging him to take them out for some play time. Which means I don’t need shit. Jay’s got me covered when it comes to the specialty items needed for basic survival, so I don’t worry.
Eventually, the big day arrives. I kiss my wife goodbye as if I’m heading off to conquer Everest, and I drive off to pick up my kiwi and an interminable amount of gear.
“What’s in the black garbage bag?” I ask, placing a mysterious hump in the back of the truck.
“It’s a propane heater so we won’t die.” Okay. I’ll allow it.
All in all, we’re actually hauling a fair bit of gear for a single night of camping. But, shoot, better to have way more than we need for warmth than to end up huddled together naked in a sleeping bag trying to will the sun to come up (Remember what I said about his frequent airport body searches? I would honestly be a bit worried about being that clothes-less and that close to him in the off chance that maybe he’d developed an affinity for ‘em over time.) But all our stuff manages to fit on Jason’s expedition sled, so it’s all good.
“Where’s yer sleeping bag?” he asks after the box of my truck is empty.
“Whadda ya mean, ‘Where’s your bag?’ I told you I needed to borrow one of yours; I only have lightweight summer bags!”
“Whot!?” (Kiwi accent, remember?) “I thought you were bringing two of yours!”
I texted him the week before, blatantly pointing out that I needed to borrow a good winter bag for this little adventure. Looked like we were going to be spooning after all. I hoped he would be gentle.
“Yer lucky I’ve got two bags, mate, I was gonna test this new one out. Guess you can use it.”
What a guy.
Snowshoes strapped, hiking poles in hand, sunglasses on, sled and gear in tow behind us. It really did look like we were heading off to the Himalayas. We pass in front of a couple anachronistically dressed in business attire getting out of their Range Rover, staring at us. We ignore them as we go by, men on a mission. Badasses. Absolute badasses. We tried to regulate our breathing so they wouldn’t know how badly winded we were less than fifty feet from where we parked. It’s not too late to book into a hotel…
We step out onto Malign Lake, hidden under two feet of snow, and begin our two-hour journey to Hidden Cove, a secluded little island upon which our tent would be perched for the night.
The day could not be better. Blue skies, bright sun, heavily frosted mountains surrounding every edge of the lake which we traversed. I am elated to be out once again, immersing myself in the raw natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains. It’s why I moved out this way, and nothing makes me feel as free and elated as the mountains do, every time without fail. Even though I had over forty pounds of gear on my back, and another seventy or so in tow behind me, I felt completely unburdened, the crisp winter air filling my lungs with high-octane fuel to satisfy the fire within.
Before long, we arrive at our spot, and it’s better than we had hoped. There’s actually a little cabin there with a wood stove which we can use as a cozy shelter for meals, drying our gear, and maybe even a drink or two amid a game of cards.
“What are those rune symbols carved on the door?” I ask.
“Whot!?” Jay spins to where I’m pointing, the cabin door, completely devoid of any carvings. We had watched The Ritual on Netflix before heading out, ‘cause we like to unnecessarily punish our imaginations for fun. Jay was a bit rattled with the movie. “Ahh, fok off, mate. That’s savage. I’d be leaving you to die real quick if there were carvings.” Still, I was tempted to weave an effigy before we left for the benefit of the next visitors.
The spot was perfect. We had everything we needed, and then some. The park attendants were even considerate enough to provide stumps of firewood, along with a heavy axe; you know, in case arguments arose between campers.
“You know, you could really murder someone in peace out here, boy oh boy, could you ever. No one around for miles.”
“I’m sleeping with my knife,” Jay said.
“But seriously, man,” I persisted. Could you imagine if some sick nut just watched this cabin through binoculars all the time, or maybe even a hidden trail cam, waiting for the right time to satisfy his need for dismemberment? Couple of city boys out here, all alone…it’d be the perfect time, really.”
“If I have to pee in the middle of the night, mate, I’m sending you out first.”
The seed was planted.
With the tent pitched and sleeping pads laid out, we retreated to the cedar comfort of the small cabin to start a fire and prepare dinner. The sun was beginning to fade, and a light breeze was moving across the lake, bringing the evening cold with it.
The afternoon and evening were exactly as I’d wanted it. Undisturbed time to read a book, a good, uninterrupted meal, and a few rounds of Sh*t Happens amid shots of questionable concoctions and a dram of whiskey. It was exactly what I needed.
But we grew tired. And though it was inevitable, we would eventually have to retire to the cold confines of the tent. We weren’t about to wuss out and sleep in the fire-warmed shelter hut, but truth be told, I was a little worried about Jay. He had been fighting a cough the last few days, having just recently gotten over the worst of the flu the week before. His cough had gotten progressively worse over the course of the evening, having taken on definite qualities of a chest infection. He assured me he’d be fine, but I couldn’t help wondering if I would have have to tow back his corpse on the sled the next day. Though maybe I’d return for him after a few days of R n’ R for myself. He’d keep, afterall; it was colder outside than in any deep-freeze anyway.
After about an hour of us churning around in our respective sleeping bags and finally settling in like pink worms in warm cocoons, a familiar tradition in tent camping presented itself. I had to pee. And urgently. The idea of trying to coax my winter wrinkled accordion-like noodle into minus twenty-something degree weather was a bit less than appealing. A lot less. I weighed my options, but they were bleak. Just as I was strongly considering relieving myself into the bottom of my cocoon (hey, it wasn’t my sleeping bag), amid the thick darkness of the tent’s interior came the disembodied voice of my pal.
“My kidneys hurt I’ve gotta piss so bad.”
“Use the doggy door,” I offered. There’s a little zippered door just for pets over on his side.
“I’ll piss all over the tent doing that, mate.” I had considered the porte for pooch myself, but I’d have to crawl over Jay to access it. And besides, limited length due to frigid temps (mostly. Well, some) kinda took that option out of the running anyway.
Misery loves company, and having a piss pal can help with motivation. “Look, we’ll both run out there, get it done, run back. Easy peasy, kiwi. Minimal heat loss.” With no other suitable options for personal relief, Jay reluctantly agreed.
We launched from the tent as if we’d found a bear in it, scurrying in opposite directions to do our business. Me towards the cabin, he into the woods. Now, don’t hold it against me, but the situation was too perfect, I couldn’t help it. You would have done the same, and you know it.
Except for the frantic fretting of frozen fabric, it was deadly silent out.
“Jay…” I call out in his direction, trying to sound troubled.
“W-w-what!?” He was struggling with his garments, his hands quickly freezing.
“Where’s th-the axe?” I was cold too, but I let the question hang for a moment.
Jay stood still for a second or two, then resumed trying to coax his worm out of hiding. “It’s b-by the door, you stood it up right b-before we went to bed.” It’s true, I had; an action which I had done with exaggeration, making sure Jay saw me do it.
“It’s not there, man. It’s gone.”
…”Fok off, mate, that’s not-”
I tossed a piece of bark into the woods behind him. Crack.
“HOLY FOHKIN’ SHITE FOHK ME-“ Jason tore back to the tent like he was on fire. I doubt he bothered stuffing himself back in before he took off.
I laughed as he ran, and my reward was a thickly accented rebuke of my character. “You’re such a dick, you fohkhead! You can sleep outside with the bloody coogars, ya twat!” He aggressively zippered the tent closed, but the effect was a bit less impacting than a door slamming. The swish of polyester and nylon hardly radiate frustration.
My bladder emptied (not sure if Jay could say the same) and still giggling (but quickly losing the feeling in my extremities), I returned to the completely non-existent warmth of the tent and nestled back into my sleeping bag. My buddy cursed me once again for good measure, but I could hear stifled snickering hidden behind the words, and so I smiled to myself in the dark, and let sleep take me to another realm.
Winter camping was a perfect little escape from things. I think it was even better than camping in the summer. Almost.
Oh. And Jason didn’t die from a chest infection. So, win.
Mezzer is on the right, the one that doesn't look like he just came out of a ten year sabbatical mating with squirrels. Author of useless internet filler and an award-yearning children's book, this shnook usually chooses not to listen to people wiser than him when it comes to silly ideas of outdoor pursuit. Which is most everyone. Except for that squirrel guy.
There’s a very special kind of torture I usually keep in mind for a very select few individuals on this planet. If I were ever given a carte blanche to dispense social justice, that is.
Some people just deserve some comeuppance, y’know?
Now, I’m not interested in narcissistic, profiteering fascists whose acts of oppression against their own people are continuously re-branded as patriotism protection measures. And you better believe that pompous pile of troll hair running things south of the 49th is one such ne’er do well.
But this post isn’t about that misogynistic waste of amniotic fluid, no sir (or m’am.) There is no shortage of jokes made on his account this past year alone, so I feel no need to add to the rising mound of shit upon which he resides. If you want some political fodder for the next office party, fire up your favourite browser; the sheer number of website hits will rival that of the entire online porn industry.
And, say, what do you think happened to all the porn stars of olde? I mean, you don’t hear of porn stars anymore. Going into adult film making was a legitimate career choice during the prime of the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. Shoot, most vocational colleges had programs, I believe. Likely something along the lines of Indecent Proposals 101 or Advanced Bow-chicka-wow-wow.
And young actors looking to get some field experience could hone their adult film acting skills with an easy after-school job, like a pizza delivery dude or studly handy-man.
The internet must have completely destroyed the industry, no?
I mean, they (still talking about porn stars here) must have all gathered together to see the very first online nookie video, downloaded at 14kbps over the course of 11 hours (as long as NOBODY PICKED UP THE PHONE!) And you just know, with the looming possibility of people sharing endless naughty videos online for free, someone in the group must have muttered a deep truth right then and there concerning their questionable futures as adult film stars. Something eloquent, no doubt, somewhere along the lines of “Well, we’re fucked.” Ha! Get it?
So, like, what happened to these poor souls? No way are they still making films, right? With people making their own amateur videos and posting it for free while earning ad revenue, I would imagine there is no need for infamous adult stars anymore. People (couples as well as “just friends” duos) used to eagerly await the release of their favourite star’s latest endeavour, like Saving Ryan’s Privates and Harry Does Sally, in full colour VHS, and watch the hour and a half feature film with a steamy bowl of popcorn by their sides, probably with no small amount of light petting. But now, surely, the guys and gals of the traditional porn industry must have all hung up their whips, cock rings and fuzzy handcuffs long ago. I imagine them all deciding one day that it was time, that the world no longer needed them, and so they all walked off together, hand in hand, dissolving into the wind as they strolled towards a perfect Hollywood sunset.
Kinda sad, in a way.
A perfect example of how technology has made people’s jobs obsolete. Shoot, they weren’t hurting anybody. And it was just a part of life, one which every little boy and girl learned about at a healthy age, when they first stepped into a video rental store. Remember that mysterious little room with the black curtain? Oh, yes, we all remember that curtain. Girls, being the more mature species of humans, were probably less than remotely interested in what was behind that curtain. But for young boys, the magnetic pull was tantamount to that of the local hardware store BB gun. Not necessarily because we craved to see female nudity long before puberty ever asserted itself, but because we were curious, that’s all. We just wanted to sneak a peek in that little forbidden room of treasures, to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, I never got a chance. Before I hit 18, I’d met my future wife, and it was more fun to hang out with her than the idea of sitting alone in a dark basement with a well-worn hi-fi copy of Village of the Rammed (and I’ll have you know, we kept the petting to a minimum when we were dating, thank you. My mum in law might be reading, after all.)
But the whole idea of renting a nudie flick is a bit gross, no? When you think of all the strange hands (sinful, inquisitive, probably never washed hands) which those hard-copy videos had passed through…ick. Now, however, with the delicious convenience of wi-fi and a vast array of other connected electronics, it’s far more hygienic for voyeurs to keep their hands confined to their own personal (and probably sticky) devices.
Where the Hell are we?
So, yeah, some people deserve a bit of torture, in my opinion.
What, did I lose you back there? I’m talking about serving up some justice here, people, try to keep up. And get your mind out of the gutter.
No, I don’t care about real world dictators and “democratic” leaders wagging their dicks (there you go again, you naughty person you) at each other as they point to their big missiles set to deploy at the push of a button. Karma will set them straight one way or another.
But there are some monsters out there. Creatures of senseless evil which need to be tortured mercilessly for their comments and actions. People who, though they cannot possibly be held accountable for inflicted misery at the same level as instigators of genocide or even reckless natural destruction, are still regarded as undeserving fiends to society due to their complete lack of, well, imagination.
I’m talking about people who win the lottery, I’m talking mega bucks, then don’t do a dang thing different.
“Congratulations, sir, you are the proud winner of thirty million dollars from Friday’s Lottomax draw! What are you going to do with your winnings?”
Undeserving shnook: “Oh, I dunno, s’pose Edith an’ I’ll buy some bonds or something. GIC’s sound interesting, too…We’ll keep workin’, though. I get a full pension in sixteen years, ah-yup. And our car’s still good. A ’79 Gremlin…Maybe we’ll get a new toaster, though. Keeps burnin’ the bread. Maybe watch for a good sale at Sears…”
F – you.
You win THIRTY MILLION and you can’t get more imaginative than a discounted Black n Decker?!?! Go play in traffic, you uninspired sponge.
My mind won’t stop reeling at the infinite wonderful things I would do with millions in my account. Travel the world, for starters, not to mention look into tickets for commercial voyages to the moon. Build my dream home. Donate funds to small non-profit organizations trying to change the world for the better. Become an angel investor (always wanted an angel, hope he’s got big wings.) Quit work and write a novel or two. Go skydiving, learn to sail, float in zero-G parabolic flights, raft the entire Grand Canyon and test drive a tank.
And, oh, sooooo much more.
I once read an article about a couple in eastern Canada who won the lottery five times! Yeah, okay, the payouts varied, the smallest coming in at a “measly” twenty thousand, the biggest around five million. Still.
Isn’t that unbelievable? Some people have all the luck.
And if they were appreciative, humble and deserving people, it wouldn’t bother me one bit.
But, of course, they weren’t.
Get this. In regards to their last big win (something around the three-quarters of a million mark) these ingrates actually tried suing the lottery commission for delay of payment. Can you believe that? How greedy can you get?
Probably the lottery officials were busy running extensive background checks on these pirates trying to find out if they’d knowingly gone over the legal limit in terms of how many horseshoes, clovers and blue moons could be surgically implanted into one’s own rectum.
Greedy mooks like that don’t deserve to win. Bring the tar and feathers, I say!
Thankfully, every once in a rare while, you hear a different story, one where a young, loving couple who were down to their last couple of bucks, instead of buying a soon-to-be-expiring package of grade “B” hotdogs (Now with 30% more snouts!) from their local cornerstore to give their family sustenance for a single, miserable meal, decides instead to blow the last of their meager net worth on a single lottery ticket, ultimately winning the big jackpot.
Hearing that, your hope in humanity and the world beyond restored, you can’t help but bring your hands together in a slow, affirming clap, thinking Way to go, Universe. You done good.
Yeah, sure, I wanted to win that big payout, I’m not gonna lie about that. But if I had to lose, I’m glad it was to someone who really needed it, and will hopefully do some good with it.
I’m doing okay, anyway. We’re doing fine, in fact. Our bills are being paid, we live comfortably (if not fancy-free), and we’re blessed with a wonderful family to call our own. I guess it’s easy to understand why the universe passes us over when it’s handing out some big wins.
And maybe that’s why some people, even though they’re complete ass-hats, seem to have buckets and buckets of money being tossed their way. Maybe their lives actually suck so bad that the universe is basically throwing money at the problem, hoping to fix it. Sucky.
I guess I don’t really need to win the lottery. Things are going pretty well and I can’t complain, really. But still…a couple million in the bank wouldn’t be bad, either, I could make it work…
Damn cosmos, always passing me over with the cash payouts.
Maybe, maybe I should try to look more pathetic and needy. I could start by cobbling pants together from old rags rather than splurging on George’s at Wal-Mart. Heck, instead of name-brand cereal for breakfast, I could enjoy my milk over a heaping bowl of Alpo.
Yeah, maybe if I looked sad enough, the powers that be might just let me win the lottery sometime. Think it could work? Sort of? Maybe?
Maybe I should just remember to buy a ticket, for starters.
Sweet zombie Jesus, am I ever glad that’s over.
I just wasn’t feeling it this year. I tried. I really did try, but the Spirit of Christmas just didn’t grab a hold of my candy cane like it used to this time around.
Was it due to the ever-increasing cynicism that seems to grow within me every time I open up Facebook these days?
Yeah, probably. But that’s not all of it, I think.
This year’s approach and ultimate delivery of the holiday season just seemed a bit, well, much to me. With the emergence of a couple unexpected twists this December, I kinda just wanted Christmas to make a quick appearance, have its fill of guilt-driven commercialism and nougat-filled holiday promises then leave me alone to forge my way into another new year, however I saw fit.
I just wasn’t myself this year.
I think I mostly just went through the motions this time, trying to focus my lackluster energy where I felt it most needed to be, just to get through it all. That being said, I apologize to my loved ones, friends and family, for not being there a hundred percent this Christmas. Shoot, most years I usually run at about a decent 85 or 90% (large-scale socializing is actually a tough thing for me), but this year I don’t think I gave much more effort than I did on my senior year math final, and believe me, that was dismal. It just wasn’t in me to really celebrate the Christmas season this year.
I did enjoy visiting with friends and family again, absolutely. But I think the timing was just off for me, that’s all. But, of course, that’s when everyone is together, isn’t it? If I could have, I would have loved to be able to put Christmas on hold for a wee bit, just so I could sort myself out a little and give proper attention and energy to those in my life who deserve it. I didn’t really want to do it, celebrate Christmas that is. Not then, anyway. Not at that time.
But I did it anyway, ‘cause it’s not just about me anymore. Not that it ever was, of course, but it almost felt like that sometimes when I was much younger. If it were just about me, I think I could have very easily holed myself up in my basement this year for a good long while, filling my time with movies and occasional bits of writing as I patiently waited for the last of the outside Christmas lights to come down in the neighborhood, only to resume my measly existence as a basic member of society at about the same time most people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions.
But, thankfully, it’s not just me I have to think about. I have family; parents, siblings (one possibly legitimate, others by marriage), aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, friends that have long since attained “family” status, and of course, my loving and supportive wife. Most importantly, however, are my kids.
If Christmas time belongs to anybody, it’s for the kids in the world. And I wasn’t going to let my feelings get in the way of Christmas for them. At least, I hope I didn’t. Not too much, anyway.
We wrote letters to Santa (yes, apparently reindeer do prefer a healthy vegetable smoothie blend to milk and cookies – they can’t all be fat like Santa.) We baked and decorated with icing. We put up the tree, the lights, and the decorations throughout the house. We went on small road trips to do stuff like visiting 12 foot tall gingerbread houses and pulling the wee ones on a sled as we ice skated over a frozen mountain lake. We watched a Christmas parade, enjoyed traditional holiday movies, and listened to our favourite Christmas stories. We visited with family constantly during our time back home for the holidays, bouncing from venue to venue and people to people for breakfasts, brunch, lunch and dinners. We let the kids get scooped up by doting relatives (at a reduced family rate of $4.99/minute) and showered with gifts, enjoying the giggles and laughs they shared with all those so eager to see them again. We opened presents, we let them sneak chocolates and goodies, and thought forlornly about how quickly they had grown.
I don’t think I was as good as I could have been for them this Christmas. I might have been just good enough, really, but not much more. Thankfully, my kids have a ton of other people who love them a great deal and want the best for them that they didn’t even notice.
I hope so, anyway. Kids can be pretty forgiving.
It was just bad timing this year, that’s all. I just couldn’t get into it. But I wanted to, for the kids…
But I guess there’s always next year, right?
Shoot… next year, the little munchkins will even better understand what’s really going on during the holidays! Let’s face it; the wee girl? She was just over a year old in December. She wasn’t making memories this time around anyways, right? She just wanted to eat wrapping paper for three weeks, so no big loss there. And the little guy? Well, he’s pretty astute, but he was still just a little too overwhelmed with the concept that some fat guy goes around all night giving away free presents to really care about too much else.
And hey! Next year, all three of us can team up together and try to convince the wife that outdoor Christmas lights have been remarketed as “Winter Lights” (yet are conveniently still compatible with our old lights) and should henceforth be proudly displayed as soon as the first case of Daylight Savings Time Clinical Depression is reported in the Canadian healthcare system, rather than abiding by the traditional “Not until AFTER my birthday!” clause she keeps reminding me off. Sheesh. We’ll vastly outnumber her next year, so ya never know.
And there’s that fabricated hoof-on-a-stick I assembled in the fall but never got around to using this year to make it look like Santa’s reindeer had trampled around the back yard in search of reindeer food (oatmeal n’ glitter.) Like I said, having fully embraced the commercial side of Christmas, the eldest of the offspring only wanted assurances that his written request for a Paw Patrol Sea Patroller Action Vehicle (PPSPAV for not-much-shorter) wouldn’t be for naught, and that’s it. He couldn’t care less about feeding the help in minus thirty degree weather. Next year, dammit.
It’s just been that kind of end-of-year for me this time around. Thankfully, I can try to put it all in perspective and remind myself that it’s not necessarily how you manage to spend the holidays with friends and family, but that I can consider myself lucky enough to have them to celebrate with in the first place.
I hope you guys and gals out there all had a wonderful Christmas season.
And now, since it is nearly mid-January by the time I finally get this off my chest, I think we can all agree in telling that silly ol’ holiday to just take a hike and not come back until I’ve run out of my son’s Halloween candy in late fall. At least.
Thanks for listening. I feel better now.
Can we all agree that having “fast-food” level warmth and viscosity as the current outdoor climate, at this time of year, this far north of the 49th, is complete holiday-grade reindeer shit?!? This is RS. Complete RS. A big steamy pile of gingerbread-laced el pooperino, in fact.
Now, my beyootiful family and I have established our permanent basecamp for what is the uphill drudgery of life on the Western-ish side of Canada. In the province of Alberta, to be more precise, and just a mere beaver-throw away from the edge of the Rockies to boot. We’re so close, in fact, that my over-inflated ego as a narcissistic author with access to the internet has to have a National Park Pass fastened to the side of it so that I abide by park admission rules should I venture into my kitchen for a snack. We live here, in part, because we want to enjoy the wonderful wonderland that is winter in the mountains.
So, what gives, Mutha Nature?!
How come it’s damn near two weeks ‘till Christmas and I can actually heat up the inside of my truck by rolling down the windows after I pull it out of my heated garage at FIVE-THIRTY IN THE MORNING?!?! Make with the snow already!
I’m constantly checking NASA to see if the magnetic poles have finally gone AWOL or something, like, what gives? Shit, I’ve vacationed in Cuba with colder weather than this! And FYI, when I was a kid, snow was a given by Halloween, Thanksgiving at the latest. You were far more generous with the flakes back then, let me tell you. Now you’re just stingy.
And you can bet Christmas day itself landed at our house with at least a sprinkle of fresh, delicious powder over everything to mark the occasion. Not to mention the already-accumulated four feet of snow that dear ol’ Dad laboriously shoveled into a ten-foot high pile which gave us nosebleeds whenever we attempted a run for the summit. Why, there was so much snow that –.
…What was that?... About the truck? And the heated…
Oh, I see what you’re getting at. You’re pissed about the environment and the melting ice caps and the coral bleaching and the ducks with the plastic 6-pack rings around their necks and the blah blah blah.
For your edification, I’ll have you know I don’t use that pick-me-up truck very often. Only when my wife’s smaller car isn’t around. Or if I want to go biking. Or if I want to listen to my stereo while getting groceries. Damn it.
But at least I carpool to work! And in my co-worker’s small Korean sedan, thank you very much. And the heat in the garage? I keep it set barely above freezing, and for that very reason; to keep our bathroom pipes on the level above from freezing cock-stiff. Well, that, and to keep my bikes warm; poor things.
And the whole flying-to-a-tropical-destination-on-a-'2500kgs-of-fuel-burned-per-hour-mechanical-bird-deal'-just-so-we-can-relax-on-a-sunny-beach-with-a-mojito thing? Yeah, that’s ‘cause by the time February came around back then (that was darn near eight years ago, you smarmy bitch) our internal bodily temperatures had been so suppressed that even my wife no longer reacted to the gentle application of a stainless-steel spoon to her lower back. It’s only through geographical intervention that the poor woman was able to maintain enough basic circulation for life, replacing the need for an all day hot-water bottle strapped to her mid-section and wearing double mittens at dinner time. There were peas everywhere all through January, fer cryin’ out loud.
And contrary to what you may think, we dooo try to help you out. We recycle, I’ll have you know. And, the missus maintains a garden when you’re not busy freezing tomatoes. Shoot, we go for walks on the trails to teach our young ‘uns to respect nature by not littering or riding any deer before they’re weaned. We don’t have ATV’s, we don’t wash our vehicles with soap in the driveway, and the boys in the family reuse underwear up to four times before laundering, cutting down on energy and soap use. (Been working on the wife on that but with no luck; she’s so bad for needing clean clothes all the time. Girls, am I right?)
We’re trying, okay? I know there’s a lot more we could do to help you out, and we’re working on it, I promise. As soon as I figure out how to steal a Tesla I’ll let ya know. Hey, we’re better than a lot of other shitheads out there! Like those douchecanoes who run straight exhaust pipes on their over-compensating diesel pickups, fast-food fucks who can’t summon up enough useful calories to walk over the four feet to the trash bin with their garbage, and clueless troglodytes who still deny human-caused climate change as a thing even while wearing shorts in mid-December in CANADA!
So fuck them over, would ya?! Create super-concentrated acid cloud bursts or mini twisters or surprise sink holes to wipe those ungrateful, disrespecting sphincter-pockets off the face of your beautiful planet so the rest of us can go about unimpeded, trying to balance things out for you. There are laws against us whacking each other silly, but you, you could deal some sweet justice however you see fit and make the world a better place. And no one would begrudge you for your vigilante ways. After all, we kinda started this whole thing by ticking you off regularly since the industrial revolution… Just remember to leave the nice, caring humans alone, ‘kay? Do that and maybe then we could really do our best to help you make sure we get some nice fresh snow all winter long.
I just want Christmas to look like I remember growing up. I want it for me. I want it for my children. I want it for the simple joy it brings to everyone (well, most people anyway) when they see and hear the chaos of the world around them muted by a soft blanket of mesmerizing ice fractals, allowing for a few wonderful moments of utter peace during a very special time of year.
By the way, this seems as good a time as any to mansplain something to my fellow humans. ‘Cause I can’t really think of a good segue to get there, and I’m too drowsy from all this eggnog to put in the effort.
Dear holiday celebrator,
If our paths should cross this holiday season, I will very likely wish you a Merry Christmas. It’s what I celebrate this time of year, so it’s what I know. I’m a Christian of Convenience afterall (remember?) You don’t have to like it, I suppose, but at least enjoy the good intentions behind it. Christmas for me is a time to gather friends and family in a spirit of unity, all while giving a nod to the Big Man upstairs and a fist bump for Jesus.
So, I say Merry Christmas to you, and wish you well. And if Christmas ain’t your thing, no worries. I just ask that you graciously accept my kind offering of peaceful wishes, and if you like, please feel free to send me your own holiday well-wish (that a term?) Wish me a Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Winter Solstice, End of Taxable Year, AMA Renewal, or Happy Pee Pictures in the Snow Season.
I will accept your well-wishes regardless of the particular celebration they are associated with. I’ve never experienced Hanukkah, but it sounds really interesting, what with the ever-lasting oil lamp and dreidels. And I don’t know much about Kwanzaa other than it being an African celebration but I bet it’s rad, no question. And you celebrate the season of being able to draw stuff in the snow with pee?! Me too! Let’s get a couple water bottles and make some art, baby!
My point is, we live in a multicultural nation, and I love it that way. I don’t expect you to assimilate to my customs or celebrations. In fact, I’d rather you didn’t. Tell me about your stuff. Shit, I can push off my dentist appointment for another month (actually, I’d prefer it, I forgot to floss. Again.), we can grab a coffee, relax by the fire, and tell each other all about our traditions. We all have stuff to celebrate this holiday season, so let’s do it right, shall we?
(I realize I could just end this right here – well, maybe before all the little periods above signifying a rusty thought process – but I just love kicking a horse ‘till it’s all the way underground. Proverbial ones, of course.)
I want snow, dammit. But mama nature feels compelled to teach us all a lesson, and rightly so. Looks like I’ll have to bolt some wheels onto that old plastic sled so we can keep at least one traditional winter activity alive in our memories.
And you know what? Talking to you out there, sympathetic reader. Next time you run into some self-centered a-hole who doesn’t give a bip about this unique gift to all of us that is our planet and way of life, stop them in their tracks, take a deep breath, and channel your inner Clark Griswold to give them a traditional holiday tongue-lashing.
“Hey, you cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit! Don’t you want some fucking snow?!”
Hallelujah! Holy shit!
Where's the Tylenol?
If you happen to know the delightful classic holiday movie I've referenced in the title, go ahead and award yourself seventeen Biography of a Nobody points! You have proven yourself worthy!
This make ya laugh? Even just a bit? A smidge, even? Well, whatever. Please share on Facebook, Twitter, or even strap someone down to an uncomfortable wooden chair and read this to them. Santa'll make note of your kindness.