Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I'm drinking the eggnog

Something a little more serious, though I hope not too much. I have to say a few unpleasant things, but bear with me, I'm going someplace good in the end.

If you know me at all, then for many years now you've probably had to endure my December funk, the annual black rage that sets in around august and lasts until New Years Eve, when only alcohol is powerful enough to kill it. Simply put, I got me some issues with Christmas.

A big part of it is, simply, that I've had some shitty Christmases. The worst, with a bullet, was 1992 when my family's griping over Clinton's recent election quickly mushroomed into a five-way screaming match that led directly to my storming out the door, and not coming back until I'd found myself a new place to live.

But that's just the star on top of my tree of Christmas grievances. On a personal level, there's the years of working shitty jobs that only get shittier with the season, giving me lots of overtime money but no time to buy presents with it. On a wider level, there's just the fact that this time of year encourages, nay, rewards behavior that I find abhorrent.

Good taste and restraint are not only forgotten, they're actually considered bad things. Hey, put on this sweatshirt with an airbrushed kitten wearing a Santa hat! Then let's put some NASCAR ornaments on the twenty-foot tall tree! Put enough lights on the house to be seen from space! You got some space on the lawn, why not get an inflatable snowglobe with a snowman fellating Santa! Then we'll put some tinsel on the Hummer and listen to Kelly Clarkson sing Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer as we go see Tim Allen as MC Scrooge getting taught a lesson by Ice Cube in the hip-hop musical A Chrizzle Carol!

As you can see, hating Christmas is not something to do lightly; you have to be committed, especially if you're gonna keep from disemboweling everyone who calls you a "scrooge" or a "grinch," and get indignant with you for the heinous crime of just wanting to be left alone. Do what you want, I tell them, but, y'know, I'm behind on my bills, and work is really busy, and I'm just not interested, okay? No, you have to join us! If you don't put on the Santa hat the terrorists win! Drink the eggnog!

Thing is, though...I love eggnog.

You know what I always think of, this time of year? A Charlie Brown Christmas. That comes on, and suddenly I'm six, watching the old "CBS Special" bumper, with the word SPECIAL spinning towards you, backed by that bossanova beat, and all those Dolly Madison commercials you never saw any other time of year. It didn't even matter that you couldn't get Dolly Madison snacks here, the point was that when you saw A Charlie Brown Christmas that meant that CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE. It says so right in the first song! I watch it to this day, and goddammit, I get squishy when he hangs that first ornament and makes the tree droop.

I love those Rankin-Bass specials, with the crappy stop-motion and Paul Frees doing every other voice. I love the streets where the trees are full of white lights, casting a soft glow and creating the illusion that things are all right. I love the quality the air takes on, when it's snappy-cold but clear.

I always rail about how the stores start bringing in the Christmas stuff around august, before school's even started. This year was no exception, but I started realizing that my anger didn't run as deep this time. I was merely venting about an annoyance, rather than making a declaration of principle.

As Christmas tree lots started popping up (a couple of weeks before Halloween), I found myself eyeing the goods, picturing how various ones would look in the apartment, what kinds of decorations would look best...I found myself getting alarmed.

I've been rolling this over and over in my head, and there are certain truths that cannot be ignored. I've got a good job, the best job I've ever had in my life. I'm back home, around all my friends, and I'm here with the woman who I love, and who makes me realize that I deserve to be loved.

There's no getting around the disturbing truth. I'm happy. This is a new thing to me.

Even more disturbing, I'm fully on board with Christmas this year. Like, not just tolerating it, I'm actively looking forward to it. I'm getting squishy right now just at the thought of watching White Christmas with Shelly's family.

I'm drinking the eggnog.

More to come.
Copyright 2006 Rich Bowen

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

There's a longer post coming in the next couple days, but until then there's something I want to address.

You know how every so often some waggish columnist will decide to characterize all geeks (by which they invariably mean anyone who ever saw a Star Wars movie, or watched an episode of any Star Trek series) by the usual stereotypes? You know, lives in parents basement, can't get laid, thinks D&D is real, and so on.

But there's another, more insidious subculture that is not only larger, they are actively evil while ours is merely socially awkward. I'm speaking, of course, about sports fans. Our social awkwardness is fairly self-contained. We're smart enough to know, and have fun with, our peculiar interest. Sports fans, though, those are the guys who go forcing cities to spend billions of dollars replacing sports stadiums that are less than ten years old. When we geeks are happy that a movie did well, we celebrate by picking it apart in chat rooms. When your sports team does well, you go and burn down your city. If we don't like someone, we fucking deal with it. You invent games like Smear The Queer.

So it's time we turn the tables and start exposing these cretins for the cancer on society they are. Bloggers, columnists, journalists, the next time you talk about sports fans - any fan, any sport, we have to be as hardline as they are - be sure to work in the following officially notarized stereotypes:

- Illiterate
- trailer-dwelling
- Bud-swilling (or Miller Lite-guzzling)
- meshback cap-wearing
- date-raping OR wife-beating

Note that I've kept them short and simple, to facilitate spreading of the hate. See if you can come up with some of your own - after all, we need something about that idiotic habit of painting their pasty, flabby naked torsos in their team colors.

Copyright 2006 Rich Bowen

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