Well, friends, the holidays are upon us once again. This year everyone’s Yuletide giddiness is obviously fraught with a heaviness and sorrow that cannot be described or even fully fathomed. I won’t even try. I wouldn’t know where to start, or where to stop. It’s simply too much. However, I AM going to use my voice to address something here that no one else seems to want to talk about in polite company (not that I keep much of that, but still) – something that, year after year, is silently swept under the Christmas tree skirt and never, ever spoken of. Something that affects us all, whether we know it or not. Something that looks a whole lot like a big fat old dude taking our tiny children into his velvet-swathed lap for a very private conversation.
I mean, honestly. Isn’t this exactly the sort of thing that we spend years telling our children they Must Not Ever Do? Don’t we teach them to scream and run at the first sight of strangers wielding candy (and this motherfucker’s promising a whole lot more than candy, isn’t he? “You want a Playstation, sonny boy? How about a pony, little Susie? Ho ho ho!”) Isn’t this the sort of debaucherous foreplay that goes on in the wee, dirty hours between a be-robed Hugh Hefner and his house full of compliant sex bunnies? Adult sex bunnies, I might add. And it’s STILL revolting. Yet, parents the world over wait for hours in line at terrifying department store Toylands, enduring excruciating soul-drainage and near-certain mauling death by perfume spraybots to plop their minor children squarely down onto the genitals of strange men wearing fur suits. Why am I the only one who thinks that’s fucked up?
What do you suppose these Renta-Clauses do the rest of the year? Do you imagine that they are doctors or stock brokers or NASA engineers who are taking a month off from their “respectable” jobs every year to don the suit? Really? Do you really think that? Here’s what I think: I think that the vast majority of these Pere Noel impersonators are brazenly rubbing their beer-bloated bellies and collecting unemployment for the other 11 months of the year. I think their daily comings-and-goings are dubious at best, and that their internet porn collections would make Caligula feel icky. I think if you were to see that same guy in his street clothes sitting on a park bench in July that you would grab your kids by their sticky paws and find a different goddamned bench, stat. That’s what I think.
What makes us so sure that Macy’s and the other
soul-sucking meth labs of consumerism retail giants are paying $36.50 (the cost of a nationwide background check) to the Department of Human Services for every fat guy they hire to fondle our children part-time? What makes us so sure that there’s not a certain *element* that might be attracted to this sort of seasonal stint? What makes us so sure that just because there’s a red suit and a white beard that this guy is not some unholy deviant who is enjoying this lap time *just* a little too much? For that matter, what makes us so sure that Santa is wearing underpants?
*insert awesome “Yule Log” joke here*
Perhaps I have said too much, and perhaps I have taken liberties that should not be taken (I know, I know – you’re all, “Dude, it’s SANTA! What the fuck is wrong with you?). I acknowledge that I have a tendency to see the bleakest angle in even the sunniest scene, so if I have ruined your life or sullied your excuse to leave your kid on the Big Guy’s lap while you go shop for naughty elfinwear, do forgive me. My job, as the spokesperson for rational people-haters everywhere, is to tell the truth as I see it – up, down or ugly. And the truth, my unfortunate friends, is that Santa’s a goddamned perv.
See? I just saved you thousands and thousands of dollars in therapy that your child will no longer need. I’m like a benevolent fucking Christmas angel. And I think we all know that someone had to say it. You’re welcome.
So, my dear friend Shauna posted this superb meme on my Facebook wall yesterday and she’s all, “This totally reminded me of you” and I’m all, “Hell yeah it did!” Because I am seriously badass, right? Because I don’t take shit from anyone, right? Because whoever fucks with me will be unceremoniously fileted like O-Ren Ishii by my yellow-jumpsuited Kill Bill awesomeness, right? Right?
Wrong. I had myself briefly fired up with this formidable vision of me as the ultimate No Bullshit Zone – the Perfect, Perfect Bitch. I love that vision. I love that people evidently regard me as the very last person on earth with whom they’d want to tangle, because I so desperately want to be that person. But my enchantment was short-lived, and I deflated rapidly as I realized that in fact, I am EXACTLY the person with whom you’ll want to tangle. Because absolutely nothing will happen. Chances are I won’t even notice that you’re being a douchelord for the first 87 or so times you decide to be a douchelord. This is a fairly serious problem, only because when I finally do notice, it means that you have pushed so far beyond the limits of decency and humanity that I completely lose my shit and the relationship is rendered unsalvageable. I am talking about zero to blitzkrieg in the span of one well-timed dick move. Actually, I guess it would be 88. Eighty-eight dick moves. Then you’re done.
So yes. I have a very high tolerance for bad behavior. I could drink a case of bad behavior and still I’d be on my feet.** I have been witness to bad behavior all my life – irrational, unpredictable, infantile behavior. Frightening behavior. Strange, inconsiderate, and often cruel behavior. At some point in my childhood it just became the new normal, and I stopped noticing. But I also realized early on that the best course of action was to do nothing – to take shelter from the storm in whatever happy place I could conjure and ride that motherfucker out. In those days my self-preservation mostly involved Sean Cassidy music and making out with my wall poster of The Fonz. During the years I was married and “stepping,” I coped by going alone to my bedroom while the shit-pies of anarchy and defiance flew wildly about just beyond the threshold. I figured that if I just stayed behind the door, I’d never have to take one to the face. The problem, of course, was that I couldn’t stay in there forever. I’d eventually run out of bourbon.
So this is what I’ve been working on in my never-ending push to become less fucked-up than I was destined to be: Boundaries. Learning to stand up for myself, to speak out, to say no when I need to and to call bullshit when I smell it. To be less accepting of bad behavior during the window of time when my NOT accepting it might still actually change its course. To fix friendships while they can still be fixed. To stop waiting to speak up until my loathing is lit with the fire of a thousand suns and it’s far, far too late. Because while the benefits of having a long fuse are quite agreeable (I do not anger easily, and enjoy very low blood pressure), I’ve come to understand that anything that’s left to spark and sizzle and burn that long is going to make a very big boom. And that shit ain’t ever purty.
**With deepest apologies to Joni Mitchell