Monday Blues…on a Sunday

You know what tomorrow is. That’s right, Monday. I hate Mondays, I won’t lie. But at least I have science to back me up on this. And while, as the article states, an argument can be made that all work days are awful in and of themselves, what virtually everyone remembers as being particularly horrible is…all together now…Monday. I think we should just do away with Mondays — as a work day — altogether. Let the work week start at Wednesday — still end on Friday, mind you. I think that could work. Yeah, let’s do that.

New Year’s Resolutions? What New Year’s Resolutions?

They say you should welcome the New Year with a resounding declaration of “a new year, a new me!”  This is excellent advice and I just want to take a moment to share my reflections on the past year and the personal changes I have in store for the coming…oh, who am I kidding?

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

The holidays are coming. And so are my relatives. It’s time to test that great annual sociology thesis: “Is it possible to compress numbers of humans who are related by blood or marriage into a confined space for several hours, fill them with carbohydrates, tryptophan, and alcohol, and not have them tear into one another over any number of disputed points of view?”  Generally, no.

At least that’s been my experience.  No matter what the intentions for a peaceful dinner are, no matter what pre-victual agreements have been signed, festive family get-togethers usually devolve into raised voices, hurt feelings, and shouts of, “Susan, grab the kids.  We’re leaving right now!”

Here’s the problem. Chances are we’re going to continue having holidays to celebrate. Moreover, and probably against good common sense, we’ll more than likely have family over to share the chaos joy of the season. Unless Prohibition should miraculously come back, alcohol will be served. And that folks, is the tinder and kindling for a family feud. That’s why I’ve developed a guide to help diffuse what I call “Holiday Hot Spots.”

I’ve found that flare-ups usually occur when one of the following topics is brought up:

  • Politics – this one is usually a “given.” I mean, there’s a reason why they say never to discuss politics in polite company. That’s because it makes people want to throttle each other. This year I’ve put “Politics” at the top of the list because of what’s going on in Washington, D.C. If I’m in the kitchen and I hear people shouting, “Drain the Swamp,” “Lock him up,” “But what about Crooked Hilary,” “El Cheeto Grande,”or “Covfefe,” I know that I have to run into the living room screaming, “Oh my god, somebody knocked over Jimmy’s terrarium full of black widow spiders! Check your legs! CHECK YOUR LEGS!” I find that this stops the arguing, dead in its tracks. As an added plus, everyone gets a little pre-dinner work-out.
  • The Media – rather than bursting into flames right from the start, these arguments usually simmer until they finally reach a flash point. If I hear the words Hannity, Fake News, Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reilly, Lamestream Media, or Kellyanne Conway, I know that I have to spring into action, like immediately, in order to waylay any punches that might be thrown overly heated debate that might occur. I’ve found that by saying something to attract everyone’s attention while confusing them at the same time works very well, and makes them forget what was causing the argument in the first place. I’m good at this. Just this past Thanksgiving, I casually walked into the family room and cheerfully said, “I decided to change things up a little this year.  Turkey sounded sooooo boring.  I hope you all like muskrat. It was free, just lying there on the side of the road. How could I resist? They say it tastes like badger.” It got their attention, yet no-one knew how to respond. And there, with their collective mouths agape, the bickering ended.
  • The Outcast – most families have one. It’s the family member who is currently “on the outs” with the rest of the family. Their crime could be imagined, “I hear that he dates loose women.” Or, it could be real, “I’m glad she’s not here to get drunk and set the Christmas tree on fire again.” Whatever the reason…a prior engagement or perhaps a moment of mental clarity…they “weren’t able to come this year.”  Not being there to defend himself or herself, they suffer (albeit, in absentia) the majority of the verbal abuse from the family who is gathered. I mean, right? This entertainment usually keeps everyone occupied for quite a while, and all is right with the world. That is until someone decides (usually with vindictive glee) that enough is enough and points out a peccadillo of someone who is actually present and within earshot or brings up a decades old story that is best left untold. Then it’s true confessions time, and not in a good “truth or dare” kind of way. Friends tell me that I should just do the “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” speech when this happens. However, I find that I can quickly diffuse things by setting the Christmas tree on fire. Again.

 

Grammar Police…On Patrol

I’m thinking my special place in Hell might not be so readily available…or special…after all. Instead, I just may find myself dumped in some remote dungeon in a far off corner of that swinging hotbed of afterlife whimsy. I mean, I bet even Satan doesn’t want Grammar Nazis cluttering up the place, even — or perhaps, especially — if they are of the “sarcastic asshole” variety. Can you imagine being annoying enough to piss off the Devil and have him just wash his hands of you? My mother claims that if anyone has that innate ability, it would indeed be me.

Canine Symphony in C

Back in the day, I had a wonderful dog, a Shih Tzu named Boopers. I loved her to pieces. Among her many attributes (not least of which, was just being a smart, loyal, loving companion), she was a great watch dog. She might not have physically been able to do anything about a person breaking in, like attack anything except his ankles and maybe his calves, but she was phenomenal about alerting us to possible Ninja intruders. Which, when you think about it, was really her job…the job of any small dog, actually. They’re the alarm system and either the larger dog, or you, as the human of the house, are supposed to do the rest.

Boopers was especially good at her job. She could tell the difference in cat noises permeating the darkness throughout the inner sanctum of the house…of which there were many in the night due to our own personal zoo. She could tell if the noises outside were “normal” noises, like an owl on the roof, or a squirrel scurrying across the deck, or maybe the neighbors coughing a bit too loudly out on their own back porch. Hey, what can I say? Sound travels here. So, when she barked, or worse, growled deep in her throat, you knew…you just knew…you had to get up to look to see what was going on to cause a disturbance in the force. She was trustworthy and reliable, and an amazing alarm system.

The dogs I have now? Not so much. If so much as a leaf blows across the yard three doors down, they bark. If the neighbor next door sneezes deep within the realm of her kitchen, they bark. If they hear a car that’s just a tad bit too loud in the exhaust system somewhere out there in the neighborhood, they bark. Maybe the couple two streets over slam a door in the midst of their argument debate over “Star Wars vs Star Trek.” Yep, you guessed it. They bark.

Sometimes, I think these dogs bark just to hear themselves bark. And once one loses it, the other one loses it, and then the cacophony is truly a thing to behold.

“What are you barking at!? What’s going on!? Where’s the danger? Let me at it!” 

“I don’t know, I just thought maybe I heard something but then I started barking and it sounded cool, so I kept doing it!”

“Oh wow, that’s a fantastic idea, I think I’ll bark too and then we’ll both be barking!? How cool is that??”

“Hey, that’s awesome! We can get into sync so there’s absolutely no lag time and all the human will hear is constant ear-splitting yaps in completely different timbres!”

“Why do you think she’s holding her ears and looking fierce?”

“I don’t know…maybe she just can’t stand the symphony that is our high-pitched barking because it’s simply too awe-inducing and lovely beyond words. We should bark louder!”

I love Petra and Rufus beyond belief, of that, there is no doubt in the world. But when these 2:00 a.m. concerts come around to awaken me from a dead-sleep, I sure do miss my Boopers.