Ah, gravity,” intoned Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, “thou art a heartless bitch.”
Bravo! Encore! My sentiments exactly. Why hadn't I thought of it first? My usual cliché is, “The physical world hates me.”
It hates me!
If something can hit the kitchen floor, it will hit the kitchen floor. An oft' overlooked Law of Thermodynamics.
Spatulas. Silverware. Chefs knives. Random bits of food. A stack of my best plates. At any time during the cooking of a simple meal, three to five items will hit the floor in a dramatic splatter of hot grease.
Small wonder then that CweeCwee, my caninus omnivorous doxiepoo, loiters underfoot while I'm cooking. She knows she'll go away well-fed. (And everyone calls her stupid! Hmmph!)
Let's face it. This “No Contact” thing can be pretty shitty, especially on a holiday. But being “In Contact” was even shittier. Remember? Whichever one we choose, shit happens.
Remember back to the B.N.C (Before No Contact) era? Mmmm, I can see it plainly in my mind's eye. Grandpa's standing at the kitchen counter expertly carving the turkey, surreptitiously cramming “nibbles” into his four granddaughters' mouths with greasy hands. The mouth-watering scents of buttery dinner rolls, candied yams and stuffing hangs heavily in the air. Grandma's there too, bustling thither and yon, anxiously stirring this and hurriedly dishing up that.
How I miss the Norman Rockwellesque illusion. The warmth of family, cohesive and comforting. Soft hugs from Grandma. The glow of grandfatherly pride in Grandpa's eyes. Playing UNO with my cousins. Being tickled unmercifully by my uncle. Admiring my aunt's pretty jewelry.
Ah, those were the good ol' days.
Holidays are a time when it's too easy to sink in the quagmire of self-pity. A time when the “blues” of loneliness and solitude may test our No Contact resolve. A season when illusion seeks to trump reality. The stark reality that our families are toxic as shit.
Does this ring any bells?
“We've gotta clean the house, now, now, NOW, PEOPLE! I want this place looking like Disney on Ice in one minute...If you haven't made your bed, throw it away! It's too late to make it now...Company is coming! Get rid of the couches. We can't let people know we SIT!...There cannot be any sign of LIVING in this house...I want this place looking like a new Mediterranean fusion restaurant by noon...This is a dishtowel. I need a hand towel. What are we? Barbarians!?!”
In just one week, comedian Chris Fleming's YouTube video “Company Is Coming” garnered almost a million YouTube views. The UK's DailyMail featured it, as did the Huffington Post.
Like thousands of other ladies, my face flushed scarlet as I watched Chris' spot-on characterization of Gayle, a frantic suburban homemaker wildly preparing for company. And my face wasn't crimson just because I was laughing hysterically.
Guilty! That's it. I was guilty of being Gayle.
I was a Big Brother House virgin.
How I remained unscathed by this sixteen-year-old worldwide entertainment phenomenon is inexplicable. But unscathed I was...until now. The BBC's 2015 UK Celebrity Big Brother House left me addicted. Like nicotine, the show is a hook in my brain.
But not for the reasons you might expect. I can take or leave the vapid interpersonal dramas. No, I'm hooked because the show left me disturbed and deeply troubled.
My first glimpse of the house reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Cameras everywhere. Listening devices. No privacy. No creature comforts. Limited food. An arbitrary, cold, duplicitous “deity” answering to no moral code. Or to quote 2006 host Davina McCall, “Big Brother will be as twisted and evil as ever.”
And then it hit me. It's called Big Brother House for a reason! George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four had been brought to life before my horrified eyes. Glamorized for the millions of future FEMA camp inmates who will enter their prison with wide-eyes and tweet, “This is so cool! I've always wanted to live in the Big Brother House! #femarocks.”
The older I get, the more I'm convinced that most of our problems in this cockeyed world result from one simple factor.
We can't leave each other alone.
Simply can't do it! We're compelled to meddle. Wars. Riots. Murders. Assaults. Toxic relationships. All meddling.
Boil 'em down to their lowest common denominator and they have one thing in common. Someone is messing with somebody else. One nation invades another nation. One ethnic group ticks off another ethnic group. Riots ensue. One human being attacks, even kills another human being. Relatives can't keep their grubby mitts out of each other's lives. Drama, drama, drama.
If the explosion of reality shows is anything to go by, meddling makes for great ratings. Currently in their tenth season, the infamous Kardashians are the poster children for meddling. Their only talent, besides posing butt naked, is walking willy-nilly in and out of each other's lives, advising each other to dump their respective men. More recently, Todd Chrisley's blood pressure spiking efforts to control every molecule of his children's lives on Chrisley Knows Best have left us grinding our teeth...and coming back for more. Dr. Phil McGraw regularly counsels families in which the adult children “won't” (translation: over Mama's dead body) leave home. And Iyanla isn't the only one fixing lives. Everyone is busy fixing everyone else's life! There's only one problem. It doesn't freakin' work!
Creeping up on us. Slowly, steadily, inexorably. Twinkling red and green... laced in dread.
They have so much potential, don't they?!? As Charles Dickens put it, “...a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely...” I don't know what he was smoking, but it sure sounds good! Just as Vitamin D deficiency and Seasonal Affective Disorder threaten to drown us in the Winter Blues, the twinkling lights on the tree lift our spirits. Christmas carols soothe our soul. And the skating and sledding make us feel like kids again.
Ah, childhood. The holidays were even more fraught with expectations and idealism then than they are now. And a lucky few actually experienced fairytale Father Christmasesque Christmases in childhood. Good on them!
But let's get honest. For the majority of us, the memories from past holidays tread heavily on the heels of the present holiday.