Friday, December 7, 2012

The 12 Pains of Christmas – Part 2

Click Here to read Part 1…

4. The madness of idiots who have somehow passed a driving test at some point in their lives.

  Granted, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is not going to win any awards for civility on the roadways. Many of these people are already cray cray, having escalated the art of vehicular insubordination to a level that would stun the residents of smaller towns and hamlets across the nation. I’d almost say that these demon drivers consider it a badge of honor to terrorize neighboring cars as often as possible, but it’s fairly obvious that these folks have long since lost the concept of honor, if they ever grasped such a concept, and they have been reduced to grunting animals who simply haven’t been arrested yet.

  But once we have reached the Thanksgiving milestone each year? Holy COW, does it get wicked, and fast. Maybe it’s the whole Black Friday thing, that shopping hell-frenzy created by retailers, wherein consumers are convinced to stand in line for 72 hours for a DVD player they don’t really need because the one they already have works just fine. (Screw Hi-Def, do you really need to see every single pore on Angelina Jolie’s face? Like she has any. And the plot of the movie is still the same, regardless of whether or not you can see each individual blade of grass in the climactic rescue scene.)

  Yep, that could be the catalyst. We have a shopping day where the Retail Gods convince the peasants that they must fight and rip at each other to somehow gain an advantage in a line that leads to a pointless victory, and then those same peasants are tossed out of the stores once the poorly-planned stock is gone. (Dudes, why advertise a sale if you are going to run out of the product 3 minutes after the store opens?) And the peasants, still pumped with adrenaline, get back on the highways and byways and they are out for blood, because they didn’t get the latest i-Whatever.

  And this uncontrolled dissatisfaction and anger lasts for another month. From T-Day until C-Day, bitter people rule the roadways and cause considerable distress for the smart people who planned ahead and bought what they needed on eBay three months ago, at a better price and without having to sleep in a tent made out of discarded fast-food wrappers in front of a chain store.

  Whatever is stuck in their craw, these mindless zombies behind the wheels of SUVs increase exponentially come Yuletide season, their otherwise-flatlined neural centers minimally reactivated by some holiday trigger. You can be innocently driving to the local supermarket, breathing in the aroma of your eggnog-scented car freshener and thinking pleasant thoughts about a kitten video you watched on YouTube, and BAM, hundreds of out-of-control vehicles are suddenly swarming all over the road, driven by demons hell-bent on forcing you to plummet into a nasty ditch and spill your pumpkin-spice latte.

  So you need to protect yourself. Call your insurance agent right now and demand something like this: “Update my policy to protect me against anything an idiot can do in a functioning motor vehicle. Anything. And maybe throw in a clause or something that will save my ass if I snap and pull some Walking Tall business with a meat cleaver, because it might come to that. And stop sending me those asinine holiday calendars that always go directly in the trash. You’re not on my Christmas list and I shouldn’t be on yours.” Click.

5. The radio stations that start playing Christmas music at the end of September.

  Jesus would not approve of this. Stop it.

6. Those Salvation Army people with their stupid bells.

  Okay, first, there’s that whole mess with the Salvation Army actively doing whatever they can to restrict the rights of gay people in this country, and that some of the loose change you pluck into their rusty bucket goes right into the funding for such an un-Christian stance. (Haven’t heard of this? Go do some clicking on the Web. I can wait.) I’m already not going to give the bell-ringers a single penny, but does that stop them from getting in my face with a device that should only be used to signal the household staff that you’re ready for your bath to be drawn?

  No, it does not.

  Here they come, arms pumping and bells clanging, despite the fact that I’m babbling with my same-sex partner about the latest Lady Gaga CD. (If these fools had read the bylaws of their organization, they would know that my kind are considered the work of the devil, and if you piss us off enough we can direct the paths of hurricanes with our sheer debauchery. Why are you begging for our tainted rainbow money?)

  I just want to walk into the store and help the economy, since some of our elected officials clearly don’t want to do anything about it. I don’t want to fight my way past somebody with irrational focus issues that seems determined to psychologically abuse me with a musical instrument that no one has taken seriously since the Mayflower slammed into that rock. Get. Out. Of. My. Way. Do they train you to do this? That’s some jacked-up wrongness right there.

  Of course, on the flip side of the manic ringers who think that every human walking in their general direction is a beast to be sonically conquered, we have the total-slacker ringers who couldn’t be more obvious that they would rather be doing anything else in the world, including oral surgery. They just stand there in a dirty Santa hat, smoking a cigarette and lethargically waving the bell with a minimum of effort so that the thing only makes tiny clicks. You could throw a Buick into their bucket and they wouldn’t even blink.

7. The trashiness of certain customers in retail establishments.

  I understand that some people are just generally pigs. Nothing can be done about it, they’ve been that way all of their lives, we’re better off trying to rehabilitate the previously-decent folks who are drifting toward a life of sloth and negligence due to experimental drug-usage, unsatisfying romantic relationships, and failed attempts at climbing the corporate ladder. But still, one would think that the Trashy Folk could take a shower and try to be decent during the holidays.

  Sadly, this does not happen. Rather, the Trashy Folk seem to be on some sort of pork-rind inspired mission to prove to the world that nothing is sacred and we all might as well stop reading books and just go rut in the jungle. Specific case in point: The Christmas section at your local Target. Or more pointedly, what that section looks like after the doors open and the unwashed are allowed to touch things.

  Things start out fine, with energetic employees lovingly arranging the products in a manner that inspires joy and harmony. (The concepts, not the backup singers for the latest funk-rap band.) Everything is glowing with childhood memories and a bit of sparkly glitter, because things just aren’t properly festive until glitter is introduced, ask any drag queen. It’s a lovely scene that could probably be in a movie where Sandra Bullock debates which hunky guy would prove more satisfying under the mistletoe.

  Two seconds after those fabled front doors open, you would think you were at a nuclear testing facility in the desert sands of Nevada.

  Fragile ornaments have been unjustly thrown on the floor and shattered, strings of Christmas lights have been ripped from their boxes and stretched all the way from here to the pharmacy (and you can never get those things back in the box), the wrapping paper bins have been knocked asunder like The Three Little Pigs story originally had four porcine characters before the closeted editor decided to chop out the subplot about the gay piggy with his fabulous foil-wallpaper house, and the Christmas candy has been both sampled and spat out in one aisle that is now a minefield of sugared goo.

  What is wrong with people?

8. The Christmas cards that you fully intend to send but never do.

  The art of selecting and sending Christmas cards is truly a fine thing indeed. Or at least it used to be. But that was back in the day when people had both patience and a lack of other things to distract them when the weather turned cold and you could no longer leave the house, just like Laura Ingalls Wilder when she was surviving all those blizzards where they nearly lost the livestock if it weren’t for Pa and his rugged manliness.

  In the current day, three things intrude on the sending of folded-cardboard greetings.

  One: We now have the technology to communicate with each other every day, several times a day if you happen to be one of those miracle people who have jobs where you don’t have to actually do anything. Texting, skyping, group-chatting, sexting. We can reach out and touch anyone as long as we have the right data plan. What’s the point of sending something through the mail if it means you have to wait a week for the payoff?

  Two: Have you looked at the card selections lately in your local chain store? (Assuming that you can claw your way past the bell-ringers and the folks camping out to save three dollars on an electronic device that will be obsolete in 20 minutes.) Most cards these days are inane, aiming at the lowest common denominator with “jokes” that wouldn’t make a sea urchin laugh. And the cost? Ten bucks for four cards. Even more if you want actual envelopes, or a message that hasn’t been so politically-corrected that it’s more boring than the fruit cup at a retirement home.

  Three: Time. Who has enough of that any more, with our crazed rushing to accomplish so much that in the end proves meaningless. Maybe that’s what I’ll ask for this Christmas. Time. I’d like some of that, please, so I can sit down and sip some hot chocolate and watch the tree twinkle and listen to old-school Christmas songs that haven’t been mangled by the latest pop star and not worry about wrapping everything and just breathe.

  But I still want that i-Whatever under the tree as well, the one that can sync all my contacts, allow me to push a button and record my favorite TV show while I’m being booked at the county jail for slapping a drunk Santa, and scrub the toilet until it shines…

To Be Continued…