Do You Know The Muffin Man

I’ve always been impressed with my ability to implant anxiety into every day of the week. Monday through Thursday it’s easy. There are genuine everyday worries with work, meetings, duties. Even Friday has its own lingering, sneaky anxiety. Nobody in their right mind would schedule a meeting on a Friday, but it is, after all, a member of the work week. The phone could ring and on the other end could be someone who needs something or a superior telling me that I have forgotten something. And Sunday, we all know, can just go to hell.

But Saturday. No, if it’s done right, Saturday should be anxiety free. There’s the buffer on either side. Relaxation often comes Friday afternoon. And by Friday night, I might even be comfortable or eking into content. And so, barring any episode, Saturday should be quiet, relaxing, and void of anxiety. Anything really bad can be pushed back to Sunday – the devil’s day.

This Saturday, I open my eyes and begin the process of waking up. As always, there is a Shih tzu curled into a white furry croissant between my legs. In the night, the cat has taken up residence on my chest, to my consternation and the grand view, facing away from me. Her tail laps at the very tip of my nose, proving once again, that she spent a previous life as a high-ranking interrogation and torture expert with some fascist administration. This is fine. This is Saturday. We all breathe contentedly. The animals because they are in their cozy places, Burke because she is sleeping with utter freedom, unencumbered by animal, and me because it’s Saturday.

But imagine my surprise when I note a hint of anxiety. Yes. I open my eyes and the filmy shape of some nameless anxiety lurking at the fringes of my consciousness. And like a moron Elmer Fudd, I go looking for it.

I find it quickly. Anxiety doesn’t stray far.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

Animal Geniuses

Recently for the kid’s magazine I was asked to write an article on the world’s smartest species of animal. (Species, so not specific animals, so the chicken who could do math in that Liam Neeson film was out). Of course, I found that our animal friends are quite intelligent and talented. What started as surprise led to admiration and then, as usual, terror.   

How smart? Look. Whenever someone makes an observation, there are morons on the internet to point out the limits of the statement. These limits had already been assumed by most people who possess a brain, and so let’s just say that, no, most animals could not draw us a map to Munich and most animals wouldn’t be able to get us back from Jupiter after space travel gone wrong or start cooking a pot roast before in the slow cooker should we be running late home. Many animals are, however, more intelligent than those who force us to point out these things. Those people are also responsible for warning labels telling us not to clean your eyeballs with Windex or to eat chemical laundry pods to fight respiratory disease. But here we are.

Nevertheless, there are some smart animals. Should you be the type of person to mess with animals, you might want to lay off your local populations of octopus or crows. Both can recognize specific people and gain revenge on those who wrong them. Octopus have the added benefit of owning eight arms and being able to open containers. Crows understand physics. You wouldn’t piss of Neil deGrasse Tyson, so why would you piss off his spirit bird?

Raccoons can break into homes and play chess. As for which is more terrifying to me, it’s a tossup. I don’t want a racoon to break into my house, but I really don’t want to lose to one in chess. And the thought of one who can break into my house and then beat me in chess is an existential threat nobody ran by me when they were registering me for a trip on Planet X. The African Grey up the road from you is as smart as the three-year-old human child next door. I mean, virtually everything is. But still. Spooky.

Not just that, but many animals seem to be learning. A shark just carried a turtle with a plastic bag around its neck to a chip of people. How? Is Earth so endemic with people making ‘watch me save the animals’ videos that sharks have gotten wise to the practice. Also, are sharks and turtles now teaming up? I gotta be honest, I didn’t have sharks and turtles team up on my 21st century Bingo card. But then, neither did I have congressional republicans and Putin. So, there you go…

Animals are smart. Sure, we have opposable thumbs and airplanes and aircraft carriers, but you’re not ready 100% of the time, are you? No, one minute you’re just some guy bringing home his groceries and the next minute you’re being tricked into the Rook-King switch by some local racoon who broke into your house. My dog and cat are geniuses in their own way. My cat’s genius fully centers on her ability to drive a 49-year-old man clinically insane. My dog’s genius is all related to getting food or getting carried.    

Spooky.

Perhaps a good rule of thumb is to just be nice to animals. They may, after all, be in charge one day. Not of us, for we will thankfully be dead long before they hit their Stone Age. But for our kids’ kids’ kids’ kids, who may one day be working in the court of a local crow and his octopus friends, just be nice.

No Comments

Entertainment in the Eternal City

We recently took a weekend trip to Rome (I’m unpacking my bags now). If anyone doesn’t know why Rome is called the Eternal City they should walk through a neighborhood in the afternoon. On our hike from the Trastevere train station to our room around 3 pm, the sun shone red and gold on the buildings. It transformed gas stations and shabby apartment buildings into fortresses of time. Resting up against the Tiber’s left bank, the little section of Trastevere is warm and small and inviting. There are winding cobbled lanes I know I will get lost on and small shops selling gelato and pizza by the slice and cappuccino where I know I will lose a month’s pay. It’s no matter. You don’t come to Rome and not indulge.

We take in the sites. The imagination roils at what the Circus Maximus, Senate, and Palatine Hill looked like. Though my sophomore year Latin teacher would kill me if he knew I kept calling it Palpatine Hill. Each wander down an ancient lane blows your mind when considered that Julius Caesar and Marcus Aurelius’s sandals scuffed these cobbles. At night, we make reservations at a local trattoria and eat fish and pasta and bread and drink wine and eat more pasta. We are certain our doctors are suffering night sweats without knowing the root cause. Everything is homey. Everything is awesome.

Our neighborhood’s demographic is surely the young and hip. Fortunately, to rent a room there we were not forced to answer questions of pop culture or fashion, for we would have surely been cast across the river with the rest of the old folks. Our hotel is encircled by pubs and bars. Outside our window at night is the incessant, too-loud chatter of the tipsy traveller punctuated by the impossible screech of bottles being dumped into a dumpster or a recycling bin.

We don’t mind. We have a comfy bed and pizza can be carried home. Besides, after walking 20 miles on Friday and 8 miles on Saturday, a comfy bed and a TV is very welcome. It’s here that we find our happy place. It seems reasonable that while on a trip in Italy or to some other mecca of human civilization and cultivation a person should infuse themselves with culture 24 hours a day and immerse themselves in history and knowledge, the fact is, sometimes you just need bad TV. And Italy knows how to deliver bad TV.

A range of American TV and movies are represented on Italian TV. There are sci-fi shows (La Brea), the 1970s PI show The Rockford Files suggest that James Garner has a following among the inhabitants of the peninsula. But most of all, Italians seem to love the American western frontier. Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman and Dances with Wolves were on every night. But it was the wholesome adventures of the Ingalls family that really got them. Every day multiple episodes of Little House on the Prairie (i.e. L-Hop) were on Italian television.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

The Do

One of the great things about living in my little community is the tons of shops and services that are here to take care of the needs of families and people who have dogs or cats. We get our dog groomed at a little place up the road. We got our Christmas cookies from a kiosk in the square. Gift socks were obtained at a weird kiosk that pops up every Thursday like Brigadoon. Half of the pubs we visit are run by our neighbors. And then there’s my hair.  

Getting a haircut is pretty weird when you think about it. This forest on top of your head gets shaggy and starts growing down your back and so you arrange a time for a professional head gardener to trim it into submission while they talk to you about Ted Lasso.

For me, it’s a little weirder. It’s small talk in Czech with a woman circling me with clippers. In any event, my head forest had become overgrown and shaggy, and so I made an appointment and I crossed my fingers.

Marcelas are always spunky and so is the one who owns a barbershop a few doors down from me. There are four others, but as she was the only one to answer my message or pick up the phone when I initiated my head into the local haircut scene in December, I have thus devoted the next couple of decades of my hair maintenance to her.  

Marcela’s shop is small and cozy. It’s tucked into the side of the entrance to a building a few doors down. Once coming through the door you feel relaxed. There are a couple of curved seashell armchairs and one chair in front of a mirror so you can watch a closeup of your face getting worked on. Another chair sits up against a head-tub.

Marcela is smaller than me. She has very blue eyes and looks like she would have run a saloon in the Old West on her summer holidays. She speaks quickly and she is alert and focused. Her haircuts are a thing of obsessive beauty. When I come through the door she is spraying water onto a head cushion and wiping it clean. She looks up when I walk in.

“You have a helmet! I forgot! You should have come last month!”

Czech sometimes to me is like a hand grenade. Someone throws an explosive ball of language at me and a few seconds later I go: “Oh yeah…” I do exactly that now and offer apologies that I have waited two months as opposed to the verbally-agreed-upon one month. By the time I apologize, she has forgiven me and points me to the head tub.

“Want me to wash your hair?”

“Oh yes,” I say with a little too much eagerness. But the thing is, Marcela cuts hair the same way that I think I would. She has a small place and focuses on your head as if it’s the only thing in the world. I sit and she washes my head for what seems like 15 minutes. I am in heaven. She wakes me up and I float over to the seat. I sit. She goes to work. After a few explosive phrases and questions, I stumble through the directions and questions and then she buckles down.

My haircut takes about thirty minutes. Marcela takes her time and does it right. She’s obsessive and that’s right up my alley. We talk about height (we measure, I am taller). We talk about glasses (She needs ‘em, doesn’t want ‘em). We talk about an upcoming trip to Rome I’m taking. We talk about cooking and I think we parlay into chicken vs. turkey. Though it’s entirely possible that she’s asking if I went to the sock place over Christmas.

After my do has been done, she washes my hair again. My hair decorates her floor. I pay. We shake hands firmly. I promise that I will come back in one month rather than two. I suppose in my old age it’s nice to find a place nearby where the service is also worthwhile. Also, I get to field language grenades. On my way out, she calls a few things to me and I agree confusedly. It’s only on my way up the sidewalk that I realize she’s telling me about the sock place.    

No Comments

Life in London

I have been writing recently about the Victorian Era and drinking, Charles Dickens and making fun of religion via booze vessels. A temperance movement was afoot in Dickens’ time. And though religion was an aspect of that movement, there had to be something else. And what that something was, was keeping me up at night.

It took longer than one would hope for me to look back from the Victorian Era. This landed me in the Georgian Era. Cities grew, urbanized, industrialized. And when that happened, people needed entertainment and excitement. They found sports and they found booze. The sporting man’s culture was born in England.

Now, more than just sitting in dank homey pubs, young men went out about town and lived it up. Sports were a big part of this night out on the town and on weekends. But to be sure, it wasn’t sports that they could get hurt doing or that they did themselves. Hunting foxes, dog fighting, and boxing were among those things that sporting men loved to enjoy. Namely, things they could bet on. The goal wasn’t just gambling on sports, it was drinking and gambling on sports and having camaraderie.

Perhaps the most glorious example of this is the book Life in London published in 1821. Corinthian Tom – man about town and dandy hosts his rube of a cousin Jerry in the city. The two engage in various hijinks and shenanigans, running afoul of police officers, zookeepers, nuns (i.e. prostitutes). Corinthian Tom treats his cousin to a winding of a night. They chase flashes of Lightning (gin) with other nails in the coffin (spirits and shots) and then have a damper (lighter drink) to pull the nails out of the coffin.

Men drank, bet on horses, met at taverns and clubs. But this era has its fingers in many current aspects of our leisure society. Though we may think of these lads about town as the old society men at their clubs and batmen and paying people poorer than them to beat the crap out of each other, this is a big step in the evolution of the pub. A large leap up the ladder in bar games and the development of sports. Gambling had its thrusters boosted during this era.

So when you throw a dart or hear the winner of the Kentucky Derby or shoot a game of pool, just know that you are taking part in this old tradition. So have a drink or four, call up a nun, put a few nails in your coffin, then dampen it the next day.    

No Comments

Titbits to Terrify

As part of the joys of writing tests for young adults is the information I pick up merely out of occupational hazard. Some of these things are intriguing, some are scary, and all of them make me look around the room I’m in and say something like: really!?

Here are a few such titbits of information

Most Ancient Romans lived in something like apartment buildings that got up to twelve stories high. They would collapse occasionally, killing everyone inside, and someone would buy the plot at a cheaper price (all those bodies to deal with) and then build another of the same building. This was something of a racket for rich Romans.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hated Sherlock Holmes. He thought that the sleuth upstaged him by being so smart and cool. He put up with him only because of the money he brought in. Of course, Doyle could have made him a nitwit, but that probably wouldn’t have made him so rich. Ah, the irony.

An average person wastes 55 days a year procrastinating. Ironically enough, I learned this while reading an article to put off writing the article on procrastination. So meta.

Bread was once a form of currency. Yeast-made bread was likely beer before it was bread and it probably involved yeast in grains getting wet and then being ingested. Bread was seen as the same as beer – mostly because the nutrition and calories were the same. If you were going to die of a spear to the head, I’m glad these guys were at least buzzed up.

There’s a thing called leap seconds, but they don’t amount to enough to get you out of class or something annoying. Also, if we didn’t do leap years in about 700 years Christmas would come in June and what fun would that be? Santa would have to revamp his outfit.

Ice cream cones were invented because a vendor at the 1904 World’s Fair ran out of cups. The guy next door was having trouble selling hot waffles in the summer (go figure) and offered up his waffles as holders. For some, this is considered the day the world started.

Giraffes are much more likely to get struck by lightening than we are. So the next time a lightening storm comes, head to the zoo.

A chicken once lived for 18 months without a head. This was because most of its brainstem and aorta were left intact. More amazingly, in 2016 that chicken got elected president of the United States. Also, the oldest cat on earth lived to be more than 38 years old and I will guarantee you my cat (the B Monster) will live that long if only to keep fucking with me. Then she’s going to haunt me.

Ah life is a dream.

No Comments

At the Ministry

My appointment is at 10 am, so I am up at six. I set my wallet, passport, and forms out on the kitchen table. I then go through them holding my breath. Everything seems fine.

Burke rumbles to life and asks if I can take the dog out. I explain that I have a meeting in four hours and will not be able to perform such a task in the meantime. I then go to the shower where I scrub myself and practice Czech.   

It’s that time again, kids – renewal of my permanent residency. I have to do this once every ten years, so it’s not bad. What it is, is nerve wracking. And the fact that it only occurs once every ten years means that I can focus 9.8 years’ worth of bureaucratic anxiety on this one event. So it’s a win-win for a sadist who doesn’t like governmental buildings.

Like me.

A trip to the Ministry – or in the old days, to Foreign Police – was the thing of horror lore in the Prague immigrant community. I was there ten hours yesterday! The woman turned me down because the corner of my application was folded a bit. Telling stories about the Ministry was like how older men tell sports stories from their past. The more you told the stories, the worse they got, the fiercer the opposition, the more at stake, the bleaker the outlook, the calmer our response, the last-minute win in the face of almost certain defeat.

And they are true, too. We had to go early in the morning, the misery was palpable in the nine languages representing the miserable. We all waited for the doors to open. The Russians in the front held spots for their friends – a right they’d defend viciously unless some other group tried to pull the same stunt. The doors were opened at 6 am, elbows thrown, a crush for the number machine. I never got anything good and I knew I was there for the better part of the day. I’d open a book, eat a sandwich, every time the next number came up we all looked at it hopefully, knowing we had too much time left. When my time came it was a new level of hell, one in which I was interviewed by a person in a language I didn’t speak. I was the fortieth person she’d seen that day and it made her not-so-rosy personality somehow less rosy. I’d utter a few lines in Czech, hoping beyond all hope that she’d find me charming and helpless in a puppy-trying-to-drive-a-van kind of way, which never worked. She’d flip through my file and I always knew or expected that something would go wrong. If she took out my visa and slid it into my passport, I reached an elation unknown to those who’ve never faced down a bureaucrat who hasn’t had lunch.

It is this evolutionary memory I carry with me as I head towards the Ministry today. I am sweating and panicky. I try to remember the accusative. I get to the appointment 20 minutes early. The place is half-full with unhappy people. I don’t blame them and I inch my way inconspicuously towards the machine. I click ‘appointments on phone call’ and my name is first up. I sit. On the TV is a ring of adverts all about the bad things that can happen to you should you screw up your paperwork, not report your new housing, or tick a box wrong. I inch my backpack closer to my chest and resist the urge to check my form or the second form I half-filled out in case there was a problem with my first one (you live, you learn). The people on the TV telling us the powerful consequences are all cartoons, which does not have the calming effect whoever made it thought it would. Or, conversely, it’s having the exact eerily upsetting effect whoever made it thought it would.

Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Undead as a Dodo

I made the mistake yesterday of reading the news. See, I was desperately hoping to procrastinate a task and was clinging at any straw necessary. I typically avoid the news, as these days it always seems to involve bad news, worse, news, and something asinine that Trump said (seriously, stop trying to decipher his ramble, he’s lost it). I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I scrolled until I stumbled upon it: De-extinction Plan to Reintroduce Dodo to Mauritius

There was a lot to unpack here, so I poured another coffee, portioned out a leftover enchilada from the night before (unpacking requires calories), and I clicked. The gist is, geneticists have found a way to engineer a dodo bird by artificially inseminating a pigeon. They will then reintroduce the dodo to Mauritius, but how and where they are not sure.

My one experience with a dodo was enough to set me on a course of interest in the bird. I was visiting the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh in the late 1990s. He was stuffed, looking rather surprised. He stood about 2 ½ feet tall, he was stout, and he was covered in hair. I naturally believed him to be one of my relatives, so I read up on him.

The dodo was endemic to Mauritius and was reported to the West by Dutch and Portuguese sailors. They found it to be a fully fearless and friendly chap and since they approached humans they were so easy to catch. More, when other dodos heard one of their friends in distress, they all ran to the place where he was to help him out. And since the dodo couldn’t fly away once they realized how much humans sucked, they were all rounded up and killed. They were then eaten because they were so large, though the record is torn on whether or not the meat was worthwhile.     

The human population on Mauritius was tiny (never exceeding 50 people in the 17th century) so the dodo wasn’t eaten to death, but rather starved to death by the competition brought on by the animals the humans introduced, such as dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and macaques.

So, it would seem that we owe the dodo a de-evolution effort. I only hope that the dodo is influenced by the pigeon DNA that will surely mix itself as its host. I hope the dodo keeps its historical friendliness, but gets just a drop of pigeon shiftiness and cynicism. We’d never be able to round up pigeons, not even with a gallery of public statues to poop upon. Let’s hope the dodo is born with that gene.

I am also a little concerned about English idiomatic tradition. Given its propensity to walk up to the most dangerous animal on earth and get hacked to death, I get why we call the unintelligent and trusting dodos. But now that they are being brought back and crossed with pigeons, will this idiom still carry the same weight? Surely we’ll have to allow for the addition of the pigeon DNA and we’ll likely see it come to linguistic fruition at the end of our lifetimes. She’s a dodo – really good at avoiding traffic at the last second and poops on low-lying cement structures. Ah, I hate dodos! They’re giant rats with useless wings that are confined to Mauritius – seems you’d have to go out of your way to complaint about these days. The only idiom I know with pigeons is the uncannily British idiom to throw a cat amongst the pigeons, which means to throw an undesirable outsider among an otherwise content group. Can throw a cat amongst the crossbred-pigeon-dodo work as well? How about to throw a Dutch sailor amongst the dodos.

The other idiom is more troubling. To go the way of the dodo means of course to be obsolete, extinct. Well, I need not explain the problem. Will we allow for the updated meaning. Looks like the perm has gone the way of the dodo, came and went and then came back again. No, I don’t like this. Almost as much as I dislike the very thought of the de-extinction of the perm. We’ll just have to see.

I am happy to see the dodo come back to the world stage, if only in our hearts and consciences. I only hope that there’s some evolutionary memory to help them avoid a similar fate. Also, I hope we just leave them the hell alone. We’re also de-extincting the woolly mammoth. I give it a decade or so before we have teamed the dodo and the mammoth up so as to delight zoo-visitors across the globe.

Part of the reason humanity is undertaking these efforts is to make up for past crimes against nature and to inject a little optimism into conservation. Every day we hear about the sixth extinction and the devastation that dwindling habitat and resources are having on global flora and fauna. And I won’t lie – that has been part of the effect on me. But de-extincting two animals surely sounds like a premise being pitched in a Hollywood producer’s office after lunchtime. I wonder if it’s a horror movie. In any event, unless we make humans a lot less stupid, these efforts are bound to go the way of the dodo-pigeon.  

No Comments

Microresolutions 2024

Sometime in the last few weeks, between trying to bring the work year to a close and force myself into the Christmas spirit as Cinderella’s sisters might a glass slipper, I found that I was right on schedule. There were hints, you see. I’d open my notebook only to be greeted with a self-interrogation from the night before.

Will Damien December 2024 (hereafter DD24) be in the same place in 365 days as Damien December 2023 (hereafter DD23)? Will DD24 be OK with that?

DD23 did not know the answer. Assumingly, neither would DD24. But they both found more clues. My notebook – sort of unbeknownst to me, as those who write in notebooks will understand – became strewn with esoteric phrases and sentences. Routine needs a tweak. Hey asshole, dogs sense mood. There’s grass everywhere! It was clear that I needed to address some of these things.

My brain needed a New Year’s Resolution. But what?

Every year I do what I swear I won’t do by making a new year’s resolution. I justify these by pointing out to myself that the resolutions I pick are always an extension of something I already do rather than a complete overhaul or a radical direction shift. And even these sometimes – read, always – flop. I am mostly satisfied with the way I run my life. I work out regularly, I write, I eat my vegetables, I walk, I am rarely nude in public. And the last time I bit a stranger was just ages ago. So, the big pieces of the puzzle are in place.

And as I am careening with ever knobbly knees and back pain towards the age of 50, I have to be self-aware enough to know that undertaking an enormous change in personality is just unlikely. So, when putting some things together for how to approach 2024, I made sure that I avoided useless resolution like ‘live in the present moment’ or ‘smile at strangers’ or ‘try to see things from others’ perspectives’, mostly because these resolutions make me want to vomit. Yes, vomit while reminiscing about a time in the past when I wasn’t vomiting, on a stranger who is unlikely to consider a smile from me as anything less than the finishing touches of a sociopath. No, I needed real acts of forward movement and development. Things that will have immediate results, rather than things which promise change or development over time. Because that’s just stupid. I needed a microresolution.

A microresolution by definition (created seconds ago in my kitchen) is a very small resolution. This is in large part due to its prefix, which does the same when affixed to -penis, thus making us very sad and -aggression, thus making us very confused. A microresolution therefore is meant to be a thing that can be done in one go and whose successful completion in itself will provide me with the instant gratification most of us only get from stating a resolution. Not the delayed gratification we rarely attain. It is a perfect thing. Here is my list.

  1. Floss tomorrow.
  2. Watch Citizen Kane all the way through without saying ‘I don’t fucking get it’ more than six eight times.
  3. Watch an entire episode of a 22-minute show without looking at my phone once.
  4. Find a better lightbulb for my living room lamp (the light is too white now, it’s like hanging out in a dental office).
  5. Buy stamps.
  6. Buy a better bedspread on June 1st.  
  7. Read a Wikipedia page all the way through without jumping to another Wiki link.
  8. Spend one day speaking in quotes from Brooklyn 99’s Captain Holt. (RIP AB ☹ #BINGPOT4ever!)
  9. In July, ask someone if they like mushrooms and not berate them when they say ‘yes’.  
  10. Buy floss.   
  11. The next two times someone speaks highly of soccer, I will not talk at length about how boring soccer is and make fun of them for liking a sport in which nothing happens and in which the players are all complaining toddlers. After those two times, all bets are off. Soccer sucks.  
  12. Three times this year I will get on a bus without saying ‘God, I hate the fucking bus’.
  13. Six times this year I will not say ‘man I need to lose weight’ when putting on pants.
  14. Three times this year I will not say ‘man, I need to lose weight’ after eating an entire pizza on my own in a metro station.
  15. On September 24th, I will floss.  

There you have it. My list of microresolutions for 2024. Hopefully, DD24 will report a series of grand and glorious successes with his dental health, bedding, and his abilities to not be an overt asshole to someone’s face. Who knows, maybe DD25 will even be able to withhold his opinions on soccer three times. But I wouldn’t bank on it.

No Comments

Merry Carbmas

Christmas elicits a variety of reactions. There are those seemingly born for Christmastime. There are those seemingly born to bitch about those first people. Some get depressed, others find their inner joy. Some take the break to enjoy a personal reboot of sorts. Others stress themselves out more than at other times of year. There’s no one reaction.

I eat carbs. Yes, of course, I decorate a tree, I get into gift getting, and I coax my animals with heavy foods into pictures in front of the tree. I watch Christmas movies. I do all that stuff. But what I do most – and what I look forward to most – is that Christmas is the carb-eating season.

So, two weeks ago, when I announced into the flat ‘it’s time to cheat!’ Burke did give me an arch-eyebrowed look (that might melt one’s kidney). I quickly explained that I meant cheat on our healthy diet. Nota bene: my explanation was not quick enough to get me out of the Dog House.  

We do live a reasonably healthy lifestyle. Sure, a bowl of cereal is snuck throughout the week. Beer’s presence in my life is there more than it should be. And what would life be without cheese? But during the week we typically eat a vegetarian diet, very little bread, and lots of vegetables. On the weekends we eat meat (moderately) and carbohydrates. When I wake up on Saturday morning, it is indeed Sammich o’clock.

But in late December, the short days, the dark, the plummeting temperatures, and the festive foods converge to make Christmas a time that begs a human to eat his weight in bread and pasta. And Christmas needn’t have begged, but rather nudge me in the general direction of cheese. And so for two weeks I plan and begin ordering a cavalcade of treats and foods: pasta, cheese – so much cheese, loafs of bread, ground beef (as a palate cleanser), cookies, cookies, along with a thousand other bits to bring together a Christmas feast.

It is Christmas today. I am sitting, half slinking on the couch. I have eaten a day’s worth of carbs and then started today with a morning’s worth of carbs. My elastic waistband isn’t elastic enough. In fact, it’s giving a bad name to elastic everywhere. Heartburn is rising in my chest and throat. Nevertheless, I have taken four journeys to my kitchen 10 feet away. Each time I have come back with a plate of food that is making me more uncomfortable by the moment. But, you know, tis the season.

Have I learned my lesson?

Fat chance, he says, with hindsight pun intended.

I am glancing at the half-eaten (half-uneaten for you psychopathic optimists) baking dish of mac-and-cheese and I am moaning towards it and reaching my chubby fingered hand towards it. I figure if The Force is going to work one time in my life, this would be the time. It does not move. Thus, I will be forced to engage in another pilgrimage. And then another. And then probably another.

Ho Ho Ho

No Comments