Every year around this time, friends and family members send Christmas letters boasting of accomplishments from the previous twelve months. These letters remind me I’ve thoroughly wasted the last 365 days. At my age, the reportable milestones really start to spread out. I already graduated from college, got married, and had a kid. My next noteworthy objective is either retirement or death. If I was totally honest, the only accomplishments I’d put in my letter would be “managed to eat my food without choking to death” and “met some of the basic hygiene standards required by my employer.” I managed to chew my food and shower every day, although there were a few close calls when I tried to both at the same time. I’m the reason there’s now a warning label about eating Chicken McNuggets in the bathtub. My Christmas letters would be pretty dull for the next forty years were it not for my willingness to exaggerate the minutia of my life to the point where it almost seem like they deserve to be put in a Christmas card. Here’s a brief list of what I’ve been up to this year.
When Lola suggested we find Christmas decorations on Craigslist, I thought she planned to put tinsel on a hooker. Disappointingly, she bought a used tree instead.
I had a kid. True, this borders on being an actual noteworthy event, but it happened seven months ago. That’s like three decades ago in baby years. Betsy’s only job this year was gain weight, a career path I still envy. She started at seven pounds and ended at 16, which in terms of percentages is like me going from 170 pounds to 387. I’ll have to stop choking on my McNuggets to hit that mark. Betsy can’t crawl, but she has perfected the roll. It opened up the world to her, but she mostly uses her newfound mobility to get herself stuck under furniture. Her favorite game is to wedge herself under the futon and then cry. I think that means she wins.
Lola’s genes made the baby cute. Mine made her a ninja.
Betsy’s greatest achievement this year by far was her remarkable bowel control. For a long time she only pooped three or four times a week, and she managed to save all of those for when she was at daycare. For months in a row, she would drop a diaper bomb on those poor childcare workers sometimes only minutes after I dropped her off. She had a short fuse, leading to more a few close calls as I tossed her through the daycare’s front doors and sped away. Her tri-weekly pant-load was powerful enough to break through the walls of standard-strength bomb shelters. Her diapers never stood a chance. The outfits Betsy wore in the morning typically came back to us in biohazard bags. Now that Betsy is eating more, she’s a little more indiscriminate with her fecal salvos, and her loving parents have unfortunately been caught in the crossfire. But for a while, Betsy was in the running for baby of the year. Too bad she had to go and poop all over her chances.
All that pooping isn’t as easy as it looks. It’s exhausting.
I guess the majority of my family’s highlights for this year involved the excretory system. We almost killed the dog, although it would be more accurate to say our lack of compassion almost allowed an exploding bladder to kill him for us. Most bladder infections cause dogs to pee too much. You give them a $25 antibiotic and buy some stain remover for your carpets. Spencer managed to get the kind of bladder infection where he couldn’t pee at all. He became sluggish and whiny and – as we later discovered – ready to burst. Spencer made the strategic mistake of getting a life threatening condition after his status in our family had been supplanted by the birth of the baby. We took him to the 24-hour veterinary clinic, and they told us it was going to be something like $1800 to treat him. That’s approximately $180 per pound of dog. When asked the veterinarian how many dollars per pound it would be to have the dog put down, the price of treatment magically started dropping. They finally talked us into doing a few hundred dollars worth of tests and other medical treatments to see if that fixed things. Then they kept adding treatments and charges. We ended up on the hook for a $1000 veterinary bill, which was enough to replace Spencer two and a half times. For comparison, we’ve so far paid $0 out of pocket for Betsy’s healthcare. The moral of the story is I have very good insurance and a very bad dog.
Inquiring about the economics of euthanasia led to more than a few trust issues between me and man’s best friend.
There have been other occurrences of note in my family this year, a few of which involved neither the large nor small intestine. I emerged from my own quarter life crisis last year, but it looks like my brother Harry has picked up where I left off. After spending all of college as a mild-mannered computer programmer, he now spends his days lifting weights, taking flight lessons, and training to run a 100-mile race barefoot. I’m confident one or all of those things will kill him, but hopefully not too soon. He still owes me $50,000 from when he bet me he would own a helicopter by the end of the summer. Like any good brother, I plan to use Harry’s terrible decisions to finance my retirement.
My brother Mitchell doesn’t owe me any money, but he is seriously dating someone. When I first met his girlfriend, I thought I’d welcome her to the family by being myself. It turns out mocking her career choice wasn’t the best way to impress her. Just to be sure, I did the exact same thing at our second meeting as well. She, like most of the world, is not a fan of my brand of humor. I later said I was sorry and asked if she still hated me. She replied, “No.” That either means she no longer hates me or she hates me even more. It’s hard to tell with women, although it doesn’t help that when I was apologizing I got her name wrong. My sister Ursula also has a serious significant other, and he seems to dislike me much less than Mitchell’s girlfriend does. When I use all of my intellect and wit to tear down his self-esteem, he just sits there and takes it. That’s how I know he’s a keeper.
I guess I do have enough material to fill up a Christmas card, but only because I’ve been compiling minor events for a solid six months. It’s been over half a year since I updated this website, and really the only excuse I have to offer for my absence is I’m a terrible person and I hate you all. Also, it turns out babies take up a lot of time. I don’t honestly expect you to believe I couldn’t find two hours half a year to put together another article. But I do expect you to believe I found alternative ways to waste my precious free time, namely naps and Halo: Reach. My New Year’s resolution is to start writing again. I’m sure that will go as well as my resolution last year to stop being a jerk.