On the 37th day of Christmas

3 days to Christmas. 3 days to that blissful day where every CEO on the planet does that half dance-half dollar signs in the eyes thing. 3 days until nearly every child on the planet wakes up their parents about 8 seconds after midnight, exclaiming that it’s now Christmas and that presents are awaiting them; calling out their names so loud that they penetrate the subconscious and wake them from their drug-induced slumber from the night before.

I’m going to step out on a limb here for a second and risk ostracization (is that even a word?) from my whole family, and probably many other families out there too. I understand the meaning behind Christmas, and that’s to do something nice for someone else. The question I posit is this: if you are expected to do something by someone else, when you do it, are you being nice, or are you simply submitting to their will? What do I mean by that? Well, if little Timmy keeps saying he needs this really cool G.I. Joe, when you finally break down and give into his demands (and let’s face it, kids today don’t ask, they demand), are you promoting the idea of Christmas, or are you promoting the idea that whining, complaining, and generally being an annoying little piece of dirt will still ultimately end in receiving a reward?

Unfortunately, that’s what Christmas has degenerated into: a parent’s excuse to buy their kids enough toys to keep them occupied long enough that they can go have a break, or a coffee, or a shot of heroin; whatever it is that parents do nowadays. But if you step back for a second and re-read that, is that really parenting? I was really lucky when it came to my family, my direct parents weren’t necessarily always there, but there was always someone that was active in my life. End result: I turned out to be a relatively normal human being. I’m no saint and am definitely not deluding myself into thinking I may have been one at any point in this or even in a previous life, but I’d like to think that I turned out alright.

Then we look at some of these kids who have grown up with a silver spoon in their mouths and a silver thermometer lodged firmly in their asses. They grow up with such thorough disdain for any kind of authority that you can walk up the street of any suburban community and audibly hear 8 and 9 year olds complaining that they should be independant enough to choose their own bedtimes. Kids 13 and 14 years old can be heard screaming “FUCK YOU [MOM/DAD/GRAMMA/MAILMAN]” as they slam the door behind them and set out on their epic journey to their best friend’s house for the night. Of course the crying 8 and 9 year olds can be heard just as clearly, crying loudly enough that most colicy infants on the street immediately become jealous, which is inevitably silenced moments later when (and I’m just guessing here) the parents give in to the child, and remove any credibility they may have once held.

I mean, I can’t understand why parents do this. If you’re going to say no 5 times, and say yes the 6th, just say yes the first time; all you’re doing is starting a fight, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being in fights. Just remove those first 5 no’s and skip to the yes, because that just means less arguing between the two of you involved, and less whining from the child which I know for a fact pisses even the most calm parent off. Put another way, if you’re going to lose the backbone eventually, skip the messiness and just skip to the child getting what they want yet again, avoiding the ensuing fight altogether. You may not care, but when I’m at the mall, the last thing I want to hear is some petulant child whining about how they just have to have and blah blah blah. If you’re going to be a terrible parent, just skip the part where I have to hear your child scream; it’s annoying as hell, and I shouldn’t have to listen to it.

However, if you want instill any kind of respect in your child: just say no. Let me repeat that again in case you were too busy typing out an e-mail flaming me for being a non-parent trying to give parenting advice: just say no. And one more time for those in the back who might not have heard me: JUST SAY NO. And I didn’t say “Say no the first <#> of times and then give in.” Say no. And then say no again. Then say it again. Hell make a song of it if you want. I don’t care if you put on a tutu and shout it from the rooftops. Sing no until the word yes doesn’t exist in your child’s vocabulary. The second you give in, your child has won, and will continue to exploit it for the rest of their lives. I mean, if they start a job and ask for a raise, do you think that if they pester their manager for long enough without improvement, that their manager is just going to give in and give the annoying little piece of garbage a raise? Absolutely not. You might as well prepare them for the perpetual disappointment of requests that we adults like to call “work.”

Now, enough ranting. If people can’t figure out what I’m trying to say by now, they’re long lost anyways. Let’s get to a cheerier subject, like Christmas in Bermuda – I cannot wait. 22 above (or so says www.weather.bm), champagne, and a whole lot of beach. Yes friends, you heard me right, I will be on the beach on Christmas. Starting Christmas Eve around 7, people will begin to make their way over to Sea Scene (our house; no we didn’t pick the name, it has to do with the fact that Bermuda didn’t even have street names until 10 years ago and all houses and buildings just had names) where we will have a huge barbecue (cost of extra tank and propane last night: ninety-six freakin’ dollars), followed by enough drinking to put a serious dent in the world’s alcohol supply, and then sleep. Once we wake up from our alcohol-induced comas, we will peel ourselves off whatever surface happened to catch us on our gravity fall the night previous, we shall orally insert 5 or more high-strength tylenols and wash them down with a bottle of water or two, and make our way over to Elbow Beach where nearly every ex-patriate (and a lot of patriates too) will be drinking themselves stupid again, and opening Christmas cards and the odd gift.

Oh yeah, and we’ll be swimming. No, the water isn’t actually warm enough to swim in, but do you really think that’s going to stop an island full of Canadians who are going to be near-dancing for joy at the fact that there will be not a flake of snow, a shovel or toboggan in sight? Of course not. Plus the fact that we’ll probably be drunk from the night before might have something to do with it, but I’m not a scientist. I’m not paid enough to know these kinds of things.

Finally, I would like to send Christmas wishes to my family, my friends, and hell, everyone who has happened across this blog at one time or other. You know that as much as I gloat about how great Bermuda is, I miss each and every one of you so much it hurts sometimes. I know that this is one of those life experiences that I need to do, but don’t think for a second that I don’t think about every single one of you every single day. Thank you for reading, have a great Christmas, an even better New Year, and I hope to see you all (and more) in 2007.

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Kwanzaa

and Happy New Year!

Christmas Party

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope that everyone’s weekend was as amazing as mine. Allow me to explain. On Friday, I went out with this girl Jenn, who I met on some website, and a couple of her friends (Jen and Derek, if I remember correctly). We kicked off the evening in style at the Pickled Onion (PO) and had some appetizers and some drinks, and chatted about how she and her friends have all lived in the UK at some point (and in the same town, at that), and how the company she works for just opened their 7th store on the island.

After sufficiently coating our stomachs in a preliminary coating of alcohol, we walked down Front Street (e.g. Main Street in Hamilton) to Cafe Cairo. Cafe Cairo is a weird place, in that from what I could see, there’s a restaurant half and a “bar” half, which consists of an open space and a bar where you can walk up and order drinks. I say open space and not dance floor, because there was no DJ or anything like that, so dancing would feel pretty awkward. The whole place is decorated in a Moroccan style which actually works really well considering how small the place really is. At CC, we talked more about how Jenn wants to go back to the UK for New Years which I must admit would be a damn good time, even if St. George’s Island here in Bermuda is supposed to be nothing short of spectacular itself.

We were only at CC for about an hour before we decided to move on to bigger and better things; namely Square One. Square One is one of the big clubs here, but what’s really cool about it is the way you get to it. After you leave Cafe Cairo, you take a quick left into what looks like a narrow alley between two buildings. You walk for what seems like forever (however this may or may not have been thanks to the fact that the 4 of us were about as sober as a fratboy at a sorority formal) and then at the end of this alley, it just ends with a ton of stairs. At the top of the stairs is the entrance to Square One. If you weren’t aware of the club’s existence previous to walking past this alley, you’d think it was just some sort of lane to nowhere; rather poorly lit, nothing of note on either of the brick walls encasing you in your path.

Once you “enter” Square One, you are actually out on a patio about the size of a McDonald’s lobby area; table and chairs tightly packed together, people of all shapes and sizes sitting, standing, dancing and generally just grooving to the house music blasting out of the loudspeakers hanging from the metal rain-coverings on two of the walls, and becoming entranced in the rather decent light show emanating from under the tent-covered bar.

At this point, we were all drunk enough that outside of some small two or three line “conversations”, we were more there to enjoy the music and each other’s company than trying to compare and contrast how ancient literature has effected current civilization and how current literature does the same thing.

All in all, a great night, and to top it all off, I got to spend it with someone who I would definitely like to get to know more. Not only is she damn smart, but she has style like you would not believe. She also has an interesting history, in that she was born in Bermuda to British parents, but lived in Bermuda until she went to boarding school when she was younger, and then moved back here after university. Pretty cool stuff.

Saturday morning, I woke up with what I thought I could only describe as “the worst hangover ever.” I could hear every sound after 7:30am in frightening detail, from the birds greeting each other outside to the normally silent sound of the blinds moving mere millimeters back and forth. God apparently decided that if I didn’t need to turn the music down last night, he was going to pump his own jams at a volume just barely below ear-drum shattering levels (just to let me suffer).

At 10am, I donned the rock star robe, and proceeded to make my way out of room, in search of a bottle of pills. At that point, I really didn’t care if they were birth control pills; just something small and white that I could take with some water to make the pain go away. I didn’t think I’d ever felt as terrible after a night of drinking as I did that morning.

Of course, leave it to me to prove even myself wrong.

After waking up from my Saturday afternoon nap, I felt surprisingly good considering how bad I had felt mere hours ago. I was able to stand up without wobbling, I was able to breathe without hearing it in 9.1 ULTRA CLEAR DOLBY PRO DIGITAL SUPER SURROUND SOUND WITH OPTICAL TRANSFORMING TECHNOLOGIES (TM), in fact, I felt rather good. I had some food and within an hour I was almost as good as new. My legs hurt from going out the previous night in the world’s most uncomfortable (but sexy) shoes, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

Enter: the ACT Company Christmas Party. Well, no, not the ACT party, but the North Rock Ventures Company Christmas Party. As I’m sure the more business-minded of you understand, North Rock Ventures is our parent company which also owns 4 other companies on the island. ACT is the implementation arm (we do installs of servers/computers, maintain those servers/computers, etc), but there is also TCO/The Complete Office which is like Staples or Office Depot, Switchworx which is the cable tugging company, North Rock Communications which is the ISP and one other one that I’m forgetting at the moment.

Anyways, there were essentially 5 companies with a total of 250 people all at the most ritzy country club on the island (the membership fees are $1 million/year) for the best steak dinner I have ever had in my entire life, followed by an open bar. Now I feel I need to explain something to you. Open bars at weddings usually consist of a few popular beers like Budweiser, Kokanee, or Coors Light, and some random popular hard alcohols like gin, rye, and vodka, and maybe a few different vintages (vintages….that doesn’t sound right…whatever, you know what I mean) of wine. An open bar at a country club like this consists of very old champagne and even older scotch. I don’t even like scotch and by the end of the night the group of hooligans that I had found myself drinking with for the better part of the last couple hours decided we were going to do shots of 20 year old scotch. Let’s just say that scotch still isn’t my favorite drink.
Now I lost track of how many drinks I’d had that night somewhere around 10pm. By midnight, I started to have a drunk thought go through my head every few minutes in which I started worrying that if my stomach overfilled itself with liquor, my brain would be the next most likely spot for the alcohol to go after entering my mouth, but my brain isn’t a cavity and as such, I would drown (trust me, this made a lot more sense in my head at the time). By 1am, the alcohol content in my body was probably high enough that had I cut myself and lit a lighter close to the cut, it probably would have looked like a fire geyser spraying out of my arm. By 2am, I probably could have stood on a counter and waited for someone to empty me in a shot glass and serve me as someone’s drink.

Somehow that night, I managed to arrive home in one piece. From what I can piece together from Matt, Hazen, and Georgina (the financial controller for ACT that apparently came back to our place for a bit before walking the half a block to her house), we got home, and I instinctively went for my guitar. I can verify this fact by looking at the strings and inside of the sound hole which are covered in blood; which coincides with what I first thought were knife cuts on my strumming hand. Mystery #1 solved.

Mystery #2 is a little more strange (and as yet unsolved). There was not a drop of puke anywhere in the apartment, but there is absolutely no way that I was able to drink my weight in alcohol and not be sick. I am still waiting to open the pantry or a cupboard or something a week from now to find a little surprise.

Anyways, the night was over, apparently I wound up in my bed, although I’m still unsure if that was courtesy of Matt and Hazen, or if I was able to make it there of my own volition. Yes, the night was over. The morning was yet to come.

I woke up Sunday morning around 7:30am to what I could have swore to God was Matt slamming a pot with a wooden spoon mere inches from my ear. I was so sure that was the case that in the process of opening my eyes, I actually made a swing for his face. Imagine my surprise when after getting both eyelids open, there was no one standing over my bed.

Dammit. Today is going to be fun.

I tried falling back asleep but I could hear every breath, heartbeat and chirp from a 3000 mile radius, as if they all had microphones with a direct connection with my brain. I could hear jack hammers in Calgary, and I could hear car horns in Bangkok.  There was no escaping the terror that consumed me.

I got up and once again made my trek around the house trying to find a bottle of advil, or tylenol 3’s, or morphine.  Hell, I would have taken formaldehyde if someone would have told me that it would cure me.  I was in bad shape, and this was just the beginning.

I looked down at my hand and it looked like it had got into a fight with some razor wire.  I looked in the mirror and the bags under my eyes were actually big enough that they had their own travel companions.  And to top it all off, my head was apparently host to the 2006 National Marching Band Competition, as all I could think was THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP—ad nauseum.

Around 1 or 2 o’clock I drank a full bottle of gatorade in one gulp and was able to somehow turn down the volume of everything around me enough so that I could go back to sleep for a few hours; I figured that if I could at least mildly rehydrate myself, the headache should pass.  Right?

Wrong.  That damn headache survived a four hour nap, the bugger.  Now it’s sometime around 5 or 6 and I do a couple of loads of laundry, and in between loads, Matt, Hazen and I all veg’d out and watch some ‘Frisky Dingo’ and ‘Perfect Hair Forever’, two of the funniest shows ever produced, and stupid enough that they don’t actually require the use of the brain to comprehend.

I think Dylan Moran said it best that we rate how much fun we had (when we’re younger, anyways) by how much pain we’re in the day after.  I would definitely have to agree even just by using this weekend as an example.  Both mornings I woke up wholeheartedly believing that I was mere moments from walking toward the light, but that they were only caused by having such a great time the night before.

Was it worth it?  Abso-freakin-lutely.