Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Aunty Christ and the holiday breakdown

So, good ol’ Mr. Middlebrow over there at A Drinking Song wants to know Five Things About Me You May Not Already Know (and Have Never Before Revealed on This Blog). Which isn’t much of a challenge, really, considering that this blog has only been active for four posts now, so we’ll change that to Five Things About Me You May Not Already Know (and Have Never Before Revealed on This Any Blog). And since I already was going to write a blog post about something else entirely, I’ll just try to work the Five Things into my already insanely interesting piece about … well, crap. I don’t know what it’s about yet. This is what we call the Beginning of the Writing Process. From here all good things flow.

I managed to miss most of the holiday season this year—all of the fun (assuming there is fun to be had at Xmas time), some of the stress, and most of the eating. Not a single Xmas cookie touched these lips! Not one slice of deep-fried turkey! Why then do I feel so obese? Well, that’s something that we’ll be discussing with the therapist later on today (Fun Fact #1: I am seeing a therapist later today for my possible BDD, among other things—unless I decide to back out because it’s stupid, which I might because it is), I imagine, so I’ll get back to you on that. Though of course this food baby I’m carrying could be the gallon or so of vodka I’ve put away in the last few days, and not a figment of my dastardly imagination.

In an effort to abort said baby, I managed to rouse myself from bed at the unholy hour of 8 a.m. this morning. Yoga is at 9 a.m., and the yoga studio is a good 20-minute drive from here. And they take no latecomers, according to the sign on the door. And it always takes me longer to come than I think it will. (Fun Fact #2: I am sexually immature, and this causes me to make bad, unfunny, and more or less inscrutable jokes.) I arrived at the yoga studio moments before the appointed hour, only to find that it was closed until after the new year, which makes me sad, not so much because I was dying to yoga this morning (missing the class was rather a relief in a sense), but because I thought the holidays were over, done, finis—and now we discover that there is more holiday to be had. Is there really another week of this bullshit?

Because I do hate holidays. That much. For reasons that are (mostly) beyond my grasp. Sure, I hate buying presents. It’s stressful—and not just the part about trying to find a parking spot and going into the store surrounded by other shoppers, who are likely to be of the rude, jostling, unpleasant-smelling sort, and spending money that, although you may have it, you certainly (this year) are not going to be replacing it anytime soon. No, more than that is the potential for disaster after the shopping is done. You’ve gone to the store; purchased the items on the list; returned home; wrapped the purchased consumer gifts in order to conceal the fact that they are only mass-produced, mid-grade commodities that one could procure with little thought or effort; and now you wait. Wait for the moment when you can give said gaily wrapped commodities to your friends and loved ones and they open them and pretend that they are happy to see … the bathroom scale. The novel that was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks. The gift certificate. Oh, it’s enough to make one cry, it is. The exchange of gifts is not special, and it does not say what it’s meant to say. What it’s meant to say is that I get you, and I am a thoughtful, insightful person who cares a great deal about you. More and more, my presents are of the type that say, “I got your email,” or “So, I hear you like television.” (Fun Fact #3: I don’t have a television anymore, but I enjoy watching streaming episodes of Ugly Betty and Heroes because I’m lame. And frankly, that’s less lame than watching reality TV 18 hours a day, which is what used to happen on a regular basis in my house.) I’m thinking that the better gift would be to not force friends and loved ones to act as though they were happy to see whatever new crap I’ve now given them to find space for in the hall closet.

On the other hand, there is receiving presents—also something I am not good at. I find, more and more, that I don’t really need stuff. Or, perhaps I need stuff, but I don’t want it. Or maybe I want stuff, but it’s the kind of stuff that you can’t really expect people to buy for you: like a bike, or a new wardrobe, complete with sassy accessories. A new hairstyle would be nice, or a massage, or a dogwalker—though I suppose those aren’t really what one would consider “stuff.” Point is, the things that people wanted to give me this year were things that I didn’t really want. A card table. A two-night stay at a ritzy hotel on the coast. And any of these things would have been fine, except that I also was expected to do a lot of footwork myself in order to procure this gift that I didn’t want: running around the downtown metropolitan area on foot, say, or searching for ritzy hotels on the internet. (Fun Fact #4: Although I spend nearly all my time on the internet these days, I find it cumbersome and boring to actually look for any specific thing, which is why I didn’t do my Xmas shopping online this year. Instead, I spend my time equally divided between reading blogs, obsessing over my empty email inbox, and reading about celebrity fashion gaffes—schadenfreude much? Why yes, thanks for asking, Britney!) And then there was the awkward moment when I realized that the elder Mr. and Mrs. Bachelor had brought a gift to Xmas lunch for their son’s girlie. Fuck. In order to clarify, we should mention that we liked Mr. and Mrs. Bachelor, and were pleased and a little bit flummoxed to have been invited to said lunch at all. Really? Xmas lunch with the fam? It’s too much, too generous. But the Mister and Missus were indeed very nice and generous, and I know from whence springs the impulse to get a little sumpthing for the girl who you’ve never met but who your son is bringing to the lunch where you had planned on giving him his stuff. It’s something that Dear Abby or Miss Manners would propose, and it’s—again!—very nice of them to think that since Rich has all his crap to open, why don’t we get a little sumpthing for the girl too. And, by definition, it has to be something that Any Random Girl (no matter who she is or what her deal is) might find equally pleasing or displeasing: soap, for example, or, oh I don’t know, notecards.

While the impulse is understandable and very, very thoughtful, my hatred of receiving gifts—and indeed, of any kind of attention whatsoever, including the kind that one gets when opening a gift in front of others—made for an unpleasant blotch on an otherwise pleasant afternoon. I would try to describe it, but the embarrassment is still too fresh in my mind. Suffice it to say that it was one of those terribly awkward moments that is best captured—and left—in a Ben Stiller rom-com, and left everyone with the impression that I am a big fat pig who loves chocolate and is unsatisfied with anything else. And also, I think, that I’m an ungrateful little tart.

To be fair, however, I must say that, were I in the same position as Mr. and Mrs. Bachelor, I surely would have thought through option A (not getting little tart anything) and option B (getting little tart something) and instead forgone lunch, begging off with a headache—perhaps one of those migraines I’ve heard so much about. (Fun Fact #5: I have never had a migraine, but I see excellent excuse potential in them, and plan to start getting them as soon as I land my next job.) And that is just one of the things that makes me a horrible person, I’m sure. As it was, I managed to back out of Xmas eve plans with my sister due to fear of public present-openings; I said I felt ill, and I didn’t, but yes. I would have.

On the other hand, only one more week until I can leave the apartment again without fear of some kind of holiday ambush. Sunday night is amateur night, and after this week, clearly I’m a drinking professional.


rich bachelor said...

I believe it's almost impossible to accept the sort of gift those two gave you with grace for the following (fun) reasons:

It was a Camouflaged Gift. The greatest example of this was given to my Granny when she was younger, far more spry and yes, Not Dead. In any case, upon removing the festive wrapping, she was presented with the appearance of having received a box of corn flakes for Xmas.
Classy lady that she was, she was preparing to be as graceful about this as possible, but decided to check the contents anyway, and discovered that what she'd really been gift-ed with was A Hatchet In A Box of Corn Flakes. We're weird, my family.
To sum that up, of course you were pleased to note, at first, that you had received what certainly appeared to be a classy box o' chocolates. Enjoyment in my family is not seen as piggish, but What One Does. The 'gotcha!' aspect of what followed is hardly a nice thing to do, or even watch.

Now, (funner) point two: it was a fucking scented candle. Unlike receiving a Christmas ornament for Christmas (useless the moment it's out of the box), a scented candle was useless when it was interred in said box, and it's a tribute to your strength that you didn't slap them. Oh god, that thing stunk. It says, like you noted, "We have no idea who you are, except perhaps that you're XX chromosomed, and who doesn't like...Crap like this?"

Lastly, they were no doubt pleased to see that you're a normal, functioning human (albeit ninety-three years old, and the last time they saw you was in 1974, at The Trial following the unfortunate events at my preschool), and not Brock, who I brought to the last Festivus.

Aunty Christ said...

Owwwww. I don't want to think of this no more. It hurts my heart. I plan to take the memory out with the trash and plonk it in with the moldy head of broccoli and the used Q-tips and that, my friend, will be that.

The holidays being a good chance to hone one's sense of denial, if nothing else.

Mr. Middlebrow said...

Only you could write a post that makes me simultaneously a bit misty-eyed AND throw up a little in my mouth.

A two-fer! Nicely done.

The only thing that to which I have a more visceral aversion than the squirm-inducing public gift exchange is the public singing of Happy Birthday. Especially in a workplace with coworkers.

Aunty Christ said...

Oh boy yeah. Public group singing in general is to be avoided, I say. Of the birthday song, of "Love Shack." There's a blog post in there somewhere, but it would involve more self-exploration than I am willing to go through at the moment.

Thanks for including me in the fun, Mr. M!

And, to Rich: Oh yeah. Stink it did. And I apologize for sticking it in your face and shrieking, "Doesn't it smell wonderful?" But really, what else could I do at that moment?

rich bachelor said...

And, in an unrelated note: please don't stop blogging just because people are douchebags. That is a reason to blog More.

unbonhomme said...

Rich is right. I blog almost soley because people are idiots.

Mr. Middlebrow said...

It's gratifying to know that my idiocy/douchebaggery has an upside: I give people something to blog about.

Sorry to put the empty milk carton back in the fridge--just doing my part!