Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Is that all there is?

Six months till Christmas!
Originally uploaded by eye2eye.
In the immortal words of John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) just before the Sex Pistols walked off stage after performing only one song at a US concert:

Ever feel like you've been cheated?

Ever stood on line to see a movie that got four star reviews and fall asleep in the theatre from sheer boredom? Ever dined in an expensive restaurant and discovered that the restrooms were filthy and had no soap? Ever gone to a concert you'd been looking forward to and find your mind wandering off in the middle of it, wishing that you'd stayed home watching bad TV shows instead? Ever buy the latest CD by a cool band you'd "discovered" and realize they've sold out?

When anticipation doesn't live up to reality, you have two options. You can either be honest about it, or you can try to convince yourself that you're having a great time anyway. Let's face it: if you're visiting New York from another part of the country or the world and you spend one to two hundred bucks a pop to see some overrated Broadway musical monstrosity, are you really going to admit to yourself that it totally sucked? If you go to the Thanksgiving Day parade and wind up in the hospital after a giant M and M balloon goes haywire, are you going to complain or cheerfully say you'll be back next year? (Personally, I think the two women who got injured this year should have sued the city, Macy's, and M and M's, but that's just me.)

The sad fact is that BG and I are getting old(ish) and jaded. Between the two of us, we've developed PTSD from too many disappointing outings over the years. And as a result, although we live in New York City, at this point we lead what most people would consider to be very boring lives. But we've often joked about the futility of running around trying to have a good time even if it kills us.

Some of this inertia, of course, is due to the fact that BG and I don't always agree on what constitutes a good time. I love to eat out. BG was a cook for many years, and now prepares nothing more complicated than hot dogs and hates anything more high class than Wendy's. I'd love to see some off-off-Broadway plays; BG would rather get knitting needles inserted in his eyes. I love Law and Order; BG would rather watch the lamest movie rerun than sit through one episode.

The thing is that by the time we'd met each other, our youthful days of exploring the city had been replaced by a "been there, done that" mentality. Taking a gamble on an outing no longer seemed worth the time, trouble, or expense. And sure enough, when we do venture out, more often than not we're disappointed.

In any case, the horrors of this year's Black Friday--the frenzied shopping day after Thanksgiving--made me feel a little less pathetic about the fact that not only was I staying in that day, but that our Thanksgiving dinner had consisted of BG making some instant mashed potatoes and gravy and canned cranberry sauce. In several stores, people were injured when mobs pushed their way in after waiting for hours outside in the cold. The stores had promised deep discounts on items such as cheapo laptops, and frenzied shoppers behaved like crack addicts at a free sample sale. As it turns out, in many cases the stores had a very small amount of the sought after items, but used them as bait to draw customers in.

As I sat safe and snug in BG's apartment, I couldn't help but marvel over this behavior. What would drive people to such madness? It was quite simple, really. For all intents and purposes, Christmas had begun as soon as Santa waved to the crowd as he brought up the rear at the Thanksgiving day parade. For many people, I suspected that December 25th would be an all-too-brief--if not downright disappointing--denouement to all this maniacal anticipation.

Personally, I hate hearing Christmas carols for a month straight. I hate the endless Christmas commercials. If I never hear the phrase "home for the holidays" again it will be too soon. How many people travel halfway across the country, getting stranded at airports in the snow, to see relatives they don't really like anyway? Let's face it, family life is not always Little House on the Prairie, now is it?

I have to admit that I did enjoy celebrating Christmas with my ex-boyfriend L's family--up to a point. I was an only child and my parents didn't really celebrate much of anything, so it was a thrill to be part of a big family that celebrated the holidays in style, with get togethers and great food and glittering lights and presents under the tree. The fact that I was half-Jewish made it even more fun, because Jews always feel inadequate around Christmas time. Hanukkah is just not the big blowout that Christmas is--it's a relatively minor holiday which has been built up so that we can try to join in the Christmas fervor.

So year after year we'd wrack our brains trying to figure out what to get everyone. I was one of those people who put a lot of effort in trying to find the "perfect" gift for each of L's relatives.

But then, Christmas morning would arrive and we'd open our gifts. Invariably, I'd receive ugly sweaters that didn't fit, or jewelry I'd never wear. My ex's parents would bitch about the gifts they'd received from L's brothers and sister's family, and probably light into our choices as soon as we took the train back to the city the next day. L's nephews were so spoiled and jaded from the sheer number of gifts they received that after tearing open each present they threw it aside and held out their hands for the next one.

All that preparation, all that anticipation, all that buildup. The maddening commercials and ubiquitous Christmas carols, the mobbed stores, the shitty gifts. And in a manner of minutes, it was all over. The crushed gift boxes and torn wrap would be shoved into giant trash bags, and we'd be faced with the prospect of lugging home a lot of useless junk on the train.

So OK, I know I'm being a scrooge here. I know most of you probably love Christmas, especially those of you who have kids. But there's a reason that stress and even suicide around the holdays is so high, and there's something sad and scary about seeing people almost kill each other to be the first one in Wal Mart or Target to try and nab the "perfect" Christmas bargain. Is this what the Christmas spirit is all about? And how do you really feel, deep down, when it's all over?

Technorati tags: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City


At 9:03 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Oldish,WTF is oldish.
You better be in your 80's for that remark
We are smarter than we were and the little knob pullers out there now a days.
I dont like something, I say it.
I get a gift that doesn't conform to my needs well then I ask to have it exchanged.
What we should be doing is looking at the people we are shopping for and getting what they like. Within reason of course.
If you are shopping for a spoiled little imp then you get something impish like a soother.
A gift is a memento of the season.
All this shit about going out to spend the amount of money some 3rd world countries spend on food a year is ridiculous.
A woman I know who has more than enough money to buy anything she wants has realized that her grown up kids and their families are spoiled little shits and she told me the other day that they were getting $100 each and they could get what they want.
In the past she has bought them cars and houses and on one occation last year she sent them all to Europe, 8 people, all expenses paid, for a month and they complain that they didnt have chauffered cars. HA HA HA
Thats 's when they greased their butts royally because since then they have been getting nothing.

As for movies, I read reviews and throw them out.
What do those people know what I like.
I read a review about a movie once and it said the movie sucked and I loved it and so did everyone else in the theater. Now I do remember going to see The World according to Garp and I was into it for the first 20 minutes and then it got stale on me and then really boring, but being the nice BF I was I stuck around so the EX could see it.
About 2 hours later I was really into it again and the GF was impressed.
So was I.
I was impressed I didn't fall out of my chair after drinking 2 thirds of a bottle of rum mixed with coke.
I had picked up a bottle for home and cracked it open in the theater. lol

I buy people what then need or want. Nothing fancy and nothing to expensive.
How can you buy an expensive gift for 20 people.
I think we should just give everyone an orange.
It smells nice.
It's good for you.
Its a nice err.. orange color.
And you can play catch with it before you eat it.

At 5:51 AM, Blogger fugusashi said...

I agree with you. Christmas is overhyped.

Also, it's frightening the way people behave on 'black friday'. I never do any shopping on that day, although my husband and daugther do.

The worst part is that most of us will still be paying Christmas bills in July. I think we've all gone nuts.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger The Blind-Winger Jones said...

...I feel sheer overwhelming relief as the Christmas trees come down and people tighten their belts for the January comedown. The first week of the year is my favourite, no Christmas for another 50 or so weeks !!

Bah ! Humbug !

At 10:35 AM, Blogger !ce said...

I did something very shrewd in preparation for the holidays. I accumulated things throughout the year to give to people. Now, I'll just have to buy a few things for a few specific people, and it will all be over for me. I just have to pick things out for the parents and a handful of people I actually like. If I'd known more than one of these people earlier in the year, I would have been able to plan that better as well.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Webmiztris said...

personally? I can't stand Christmas.

Christmas is supposed to be about Christ's birth; right? That's it.

It's not 'supposed' to be about getting yourself in debt buying shit for everyone and their brother.

Or annoying commercials, songs, etc.

But it is.

It just doesn't seem right to me.

At 1:15 PM, Blogger jessie said...

me personally i have seasonal affective disorder so i do try to make the best out of the holidays. i do enjoy christmas though. it's such a pretty time of the year. i don't really care too much for the commercialism and hype the corporate money grubbers bring to the holiday because it steals away from the true meaning of the holiday. personally i love buying things for other people and i love to go shopping. i don't spoil my kids with lavish gifts though. there is a spending limit and they get one "big" (expensive) gift and the rest are whatever. i don't believe children should be given what they want when they demand it. i make mine wait for those big things until holidays or birthdays.
it makes them appreciate it more than if they were to get it on demand. black friday is a headache! i find it best to aquire things over the year and to buy gift cards to stores i generally spend alot of money in and use them on black friday, whatever is left gets spent during a weekday when the stores aren't mobbed. i'd rather give then recieve, i can generally remember when a person says they'd like to have this or that and i try to get it for them. just me i guess.
i don't spend alot of time trying to do it all, especially if it's hyped up. i am content taking small trips on a whim and spending my summer in amusement parks. i just love the roller coasters! the thrill and rush is irreplaceable! my kids are little thrill seekers too so it works out well for all of us, we just get season passes to several places we visit regularly and go whenever we want. for me spontanoius is better, less chance of things not working out.
you are not oldish, just settled in your ways. been there, done that means you've had the experience and you know what you do and don't like and have your preferences, that doesn't make you old.

P.S. sorry for the length.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Doofi said...

overhyped? um you forgot to mention new years eve. what an awful night. Every amature from the burbs and elsewhere think it's their night out. I hate these places on a regular basis, but then NYE they expect me to pay a large some for a "cover" charge, i'm sorry i didn't realize there was a band, oh right there isn't one. No thanks. It's a painful experience to even just get out to have a drink that night.

at 12:01 black friday I turned on the radio for some inexplicable reason, it was the beginning of the end - christmas music. I was up in the burbs and had to use a car to my errands done and this was horrid experience that has scarred me for life. Every goddamn station was playing christmas music, every single one. i couldn't escape, i drove into oncoming traffic a couple of times to try to ease the pain, but for some reason everyone got out of my way so then I just sat their, driving and hating.

At 3:13 PM, Anonymous Neil said...

I've extended this "inevitable disappointment" to travel as well. Whenever I see some tourist spot listed in Frommer's, I know that it is a place to avoid -- and that it will never live up to the image in your head. Does any real New Yorker hang out at the Empire State Building? Do Parisians run to the Eiffel Tower? After seeing the Thanksgiving Day parade on TV, is fighting the crowds to get hit in the head by a balloon really that much fun? Yeah, I guess I'm old, too.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger The Lioness said...

Christmas is a bloody horror, al those carols, all those fake Let's all love each other RIGHT NOW!

Gah. Loathe Christmas. And December? Don't get me started on bloody December!

At 8:21 AM, Blogger serendipity said...

Christmas, to me, is just a prettypretty day.

I prefer to stay and home and snuggle up to enjoy just one day of festivity, and just think and smile,

"Ah, today is Christmas"

which also translates to people getting their year-end bonuses.

(p.s. interesting blog! thanks for visiting, I've linked you up. Cheers!)

At 10:09 AM, Blogger fsgsf said...

Thanks for the visit! Goodluck to you!


NJ from NJ

At 3:25 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Jeez, and here I thought you were all gonna (you should excuse the expression) crucify me for my shitty holiday attitude, but I guess I'm not the only one who has become cynical. I'll come back and answer everyone's comments. Right now I'm trying to get into the pre-Christmas spirit with

At 7:14 PM, Blogger E-E said...

Bahhhh HUMBUG.


New link. Again.
Kick me in the ass anytimne you wanna. PLEASE.

Here is its:

Let's hipe he's too stupid to read your comments section...

At 5:57 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


No chauffeur? Outrageous! Now an orange--just the right size, healthy for you--and it's FRUIT! (see entry above).

At 5:58 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


From what I heard, everyone is broke/in debt this year, partly due to gas prices. Thus the mad rush for the deep discounts.

At 6:00 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


An honest man--now, that's what I like to see!

At 6:01 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Now that's using your bipolar, borderline personality disordered head! Yay for us crazy people!

At 6:04 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Another honest person! Halleluya! (I tried to spell this five times--it's still wrong, isn't it?)

At 6:08 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I forgot about seasonal affective disorder (or SAD)--another thing to throw into the mix! You seem to have a very sensible approach.

BG's approach to saving for the holdays can be very un-romantic--he's not ashamed to wait for the day after Valentine's Day to get the candy at 50 percent off.

At 6:10 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I think they swerved to miss you because the Christmas season had begun, and they were all listening to the carols on the radio too. New Year's Eve in NYC is much tamer now that they don't allow drinking in Times Square, but yeah--I stay in too, and usually fall asleep before the ball drops. Dull, dull, dull!

At 6:12 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


If I went to the Thanksgiving Day parade, I wouldn't be able to hold my head up high and say I'm a born and bred New Yorker. It just isn't done!

At 6:14 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I think the holidays may produce more hate and resentment than love. December is a bitch, but February here is the pits--it feels like winter will never end.

At 6:20 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks for visiting too! Year end bonuses are something I've never experienced--just the drunken Christmas party with bad disco music so people can dance and fall flat on their ass. Priceless!

At 6:21 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks for the jokes and funnies--always cheers me up!

At 6:24 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I think you mentioned that he's found you again even at this new address--I don't think he'll lose the trail unless you change your URL completely--ugh.


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