Arriving deep into the holiday party and being confronted by a drunk with whom I was not acquainted, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Beaming with pride from winning the ugly sweater contest, he asked “Do you like my sweater?”
“Of course, who doesn’t.”
“Exactly. It even lights up. Wanna see?”
“Of course, who doesn’t?”
“Look they all change color!”
“Of course, who doesn’t.”
My response came from my autopilot, but I needed to clean this up. My first thought was, “Who doesn’t change color after than man drinks? Your face makes Rudolf’s nose jealous.” But popping in over my shoulder, my good angel convinced me to go in another direction using the argument that shit-faced won’t grasp he’s red-faced. I had to agree.
“I mean that’s blinding, the Las Vegas Strip of sweaters. You’re lit up like a Christmas tree.”
“It is a Christmas tree silly!”
Did he call me silly? Really?
He continued, “Right here on my chest. They don’t that need that tree in the corner. They could stand me over there and throw presents at my feet.”
I flashed on suggesting he incorporate mistletoe. Again, my angel reminded me that I don’t want the blame for a party drunk running around with mistletoe. Not sure where my little devil is. Might be too early in the evening, but this kind of situation seems ripe for some tomfoolery.
“How many batteries does it need?”
“None! I’m plugged in. Getting my juice straight from the tap.”
He did indeed have an electrical cord that acted as a tail. How could I have missed it? Flummoxed by my apparent lack of perception, I stepped into it.
“Well, cars are going electric, why not sweaters?”
The minute I said it, I knew it was a mistake. I don’t know why I said it. Why wouldn’t I let it go? Change the subject, walk away. He’ll never remember you…or the party. But nooooooo, I marched into the abyss like penguins in that movie jumping into the sea filled with killer whales.
“Exactly! Electric power is the future. It’s clean energy. I love clean energy. You know why?”
My first thought was that it’s because bad little kids get coal in their stockings. But my little devil still didn’t seem interested even though this one was sitting on a tee and needed to be hit. My angel pushed me to ignore the punch line and go with the standard line.
“Of course, who doesn’t?”
My other line was better.
“It’s because it’s so clean! I’m saving the planet.”
This time I didn’t need to consult with my angel. I knew I couldn’t reply with rationality. Unplugging the bloody thing is what would be saving energy. But logic and reason don’t work when it’s silly season.
But moreover, the ‘saving the planet’ discussion typically rests in the reduction of fossil fuel emissions and there are no fossil-fuel powered sweaters to be replaced by an electrical one. However, the idea of a christmas tree sweater with a small back-pack motor, gas tank, and lawn-mower-type pull starter provided momentarily amusement. Brining that up would have taken this to a new level. And where was my little devil anyway? While ripe for mischief, I stuck with the script.
“Of course, who isn’t.”
“I like you…you’re funny.”
Again, you’re not hearing my best stuff.
“If everyone wore this sweater, then cows could fart all they wanted.”
That jumped the shark. The idea of an electric sweater impacting methane production caused my angel to shrug and say, “I tried.” And right on cue, my little devil popped up, apologized briefly for the late arrival and filled my head with ideas.
The most festive involved the electric sweater falling into a bathtub and creating the fourth of July on Christmas, making it a sort of holiday a two-fer. But even with my brain drowning with the devilish thoughts, my wit stayed dry.
“Wow, offsetting bovine methane production could really make a difference.”
“Yea it could. In one end and out the other. They’re like fart factories. Moo, pffffttt. Moo, pffffttt. Moo, pffffttt.
My devil, wringing his hands in glee, went looking for a bathtub. My angel remined me of certain criminal penalties and counseled me toward sticking with snide mockery.
“You could win the Nobel prized for that.”
“I’m like an electric super hero. Call me Christmas Tree Man!”
With that proclamation, the angel congratulated the devil on their victory, packed their bags, and disappeared. The devil took over.
“Are you able to leap tall buildings Christmas Tree man?”
“No, but I can down a tall can of Coors Light.”
“I think you already proved that, several times.”
“Yep. If Coors Lights were hurdles, I’d be an Olympian. You set em up and I’ll knock em down.”
The mixed metaphor caused the devil to give me the look a mom gives the dad when something goes wrong in the family. You know the look that means are you taking care of this or am I? I doubled down.
“So tall cans would be the high hurdles?”
“Oh, I get it…high hurdles – tall cans. You’re funny.”
Yea, well, you should have seen what got left on the cutting room floor. And don’t forget to tip your waitress.
“I like you. We should hang out together.”
“Only if you’re wearing a noose.”
It was too far. I knew it. But the angel stopped running interference, and the idea of endearing myself to him made as much sense as giving a child a Christmas gift of sox and underwear. It’s just something you don’t do. What I should have done was just walk away. But I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. Still invested, I deflected.
“I said, only if you’re bringing the beer.”
“Oh, I’ll get you a beer.”
As he walked away, it was all I could do not to step on the cord and drop him on his ass. As I considered it, my real angel appeared.
“Hi honey!” she said.
The appearance of my wife caused the devil on my shoulder to melt like the guy in the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“I’m talking to Captain Christmas Sweater – the protector of bovine methane production, dedicated to allowing cows to fart freely. Does it sound like I’m having fun?”
“Actually, that’s pretty interesting.”
“Oh, please. It’s crazy. I’m talking to a crazy person.”
“If you aren’t enjoying it, why don’t you just walk away? You prefer to let his silliness bother you?”
I thought about telling her about my two little helpers over my shoulders. How I listened to my better angels until the cow fart thing jumped the shark, but that sounded a bit crazy too.
“Of course, who doesn’t,” I said honestly.
“Oh, stop. Let it go.”
“No, I need to make sure he knows that there are no fossil-fuel powered Christmas sweaters.”
Oops. I sound crazy. Oh my God! He’s a carrier and he infected me.
“You do huh?
I detected the not-so-subtle tinge of sarcasm in her remarks. Of course, she right…as always.
In hindsight, it’s easy to see the impact of Christmas Tree Man. But in the moment, I got invested so easily. The crazy train was leaving the station and I wanted on. I can choose not to ride. I know that. I just don’t always do that. Reminders help. She knows that.
“No, I guess I don’t.
Do things totally beyond your control sometimes drive you crazy and you can’t just let them go? Welcome aboard. There used to be more empty seats, but recently, more people – sane people – hop on. It’s like a virus that causes external silliness to create an irrational emotional response and impact on our lives, specifically our happiness. Sound familiar? I hope not.
The Sweater came back with my beer. I said thank you sans sarcasm, introduced my wife, and easily made polite small talk after I let go of all that baggage.
My wife provides me the antibiotic to cure the silliness impact virus. She has that superpower. She’s truly my better angel. Note to self: figure out how to bottle a dose of reality.
I can’t give you a serum to protect you from the silliness in the world. But I can suggest that when something beyond your control provides a ticket to the crazy train, remember Captain Christmas Sweater working to allow cows to fart freely.
Moo, pffffttt, moo, pffffttt, moo, pffffttt.
Merry Christmas and Have a Happy New Year.