Well, here we go again.
At the beginning of the previous decade, you and I were warily eyeing the beginning of a new Millennium. Soothsayers were making ridiculous predictions, naysayers were making preparations for the end and the Y2K Bug was about to obsolete Mankind as a species. Nostradamus fans everywhere pointed to virtually all of his quatrains as evidence the Great Man had predicted the end of Civilization sometime "in the next couple of years."
According to Nostradamus, fire was most assuredly going to rain from the sky in some form or other. The ground was extremely likely to tremble. The Third Antichrist was going to enter a large city somewhere, heralded by a plague of locusts. Or rabbits. Or maybe disease. Had Nostradamus predicted the Saint Louis Rams fending off a late surge by the Tennessee Titans in Superbowl XXXIV with Kurt Warner throwing for 414 yards and 2 touchdowns, I might have sat up and paid attention. But he didn't. Which will make absolutely no difference whatsoever as his legion of fans turn to 2012 and the end of the Mayan Calendar. (Note to those same fans: the Mayan calendar – like your logic – is circular and simply resets so that we begin again. Sorry to disappoint).
While such last-decade phenomena as Paris Hilton, reality shows and Balloon Boy often make me wish Y2K had turned out in favor of the crazed computers, it was not the End of the World some had predicted. Though the sight of Kanye West being a repulsive turd towards teen sensation Taylor Swift during the Grammys may have signified the End of Civilization.
Even though Nostradamus was a little off about, well, pretty much everything, he was right about one thing: it was a crap decade. I for one am glad to see the back of it. And in the spirit of completely rejecting the previous year and looking ahead to all the mistakes I am about to make in the future, I would like to present an ominous little spot I like to call...
Five New Year's Resolutions I Have No Intention Of Keeping
1 – I will not swear in front of my Mother In-Law
Grandma Perfect is the sweetest lady you will ever meet, a former teacher like my Nigh Perfect wife. She has readily accepted me into her family and barely even shuns me at family gatherings. She is kind and demure and intelligent and just a wonderful lady. And she's stressing me the fuck out.
I try, Chums. Lord knows I try. But what starts as a nice conversation about history or literature soon deteriorates after I've had a few beers and I'm explaining to her that Killer Robot Monkeys live outside the window of my basement. I am so confused about the Rules of Engagement with this lady, I once even complimented her by saying her hair wasn't quite so scruffy as it had been the day before. That's like having your girlfriend ask you if she's fat, and you begin your response with, "Well, now you mention it..."
I now realize I would be better off if Grandma Perfect was a boozing former insane asylum guard with a nervous tic. If only she were a fan of Monster Trucks and Jack Daniels Special Barrel, I'd be able to carry on a decent conversation that could include all of George Carlin's forbidden words.
As it is, I remain in a state of terror at the family dinner table, as if I'm sitting on a large pile of unexploded verbal grenades. The conversation invariably goes something like this:
"So, Paul... how's business?"
"Oh, it's fine. Just fine. Lovely. Couldn't be better."
"And how's my grandson?"
"You said Lovely twice."
"Really? Well, that's how lovely it all is. Just like your daughter. And you."
"Could you pass the mashed potatoes, please?"
All eyes turn to my end of the table. Little Dude – who has taken to repeating everything I say – thinks better of it and crawls under the table. Nigh Perfect smiles that wan smile of hers that means I am going to get it when I get home: the bad news being "it" is not actually what I'd prefer it to be.
Thankfully, Grandpa Perfect is a former insane asylum guard with a nervous tic. Once he's consumed half a liter of Special Barrel and starts talking about politics, I'm usually in the clear. Nevertheless, I vow that this is the year I finally get through one meal without saying anything rude.
ODDS OF SUCCESS: 650-1
2 – I will not injure myself this year
I do not need to explain this, do I? And just to be clear, this is about me injuring myself and not me being harmed by others. You will not be surprised to learn that Nigh Perfect was the proud recipient of a brand new rolling pin this Christmas as the other one had a suspiciously Jenkins-shaped dent in it due to a previous infraction. I do not hold out much hope that I will not alienate the boss of my heart, mind and kneecaps at some point or other (see below).
Nope, this year I vow not to trip over anything and shatter a shin or crack a cranium. I will protect the remains of my right knee. I will not dislocate aforementioned knee during a golf swing, nor will I accidentally trip over a tennis net. I will not crack my head on a granite counter while in the process of bending down to retrieve a dog biscuit, nor will I crack it on the way back up from retrieving the same dog biscuit. Nor will I scowl at the granite counter and pretend it moved from a previous position (which it probably did by the time it was finished with my head). I will not walk into the bathroom door because I cannot be bothered to turn on the light. I will not try to ride my son's Lightning McQueen scooter.
For news on what I actually do, read this space...
ODDS OF SUCCESS: 500-1
3 – I will not be an idiot in public when in the company of my wife. Neither will I think something is funny that is obviously not funny to anyone else.
In the new decade I will not take my wife out for a nice dinner and spend the evening laughing at the couple arguing at the next table. Neither will I lean over and offer the guy advice when his soon-to-be-former ex-girlfriend stomps off to the powder room. I will not follow my wife around the local supermarket pretending to be a rejected former boyfriend "because it is funny." Neither will I accuse her in public of having an affair "with the Clemson offensive line." I will not alienate her friends at parties, and since we happen to live in a town called Cumming I will not make one more joke about the Mother's Group of Cumming (heh). Neither will I tell a nice couple we've just met that Nigh Perfect and I live on the edge of Cumming and that our tax commissioner is a guy named Fred Fister. Even though it is funny.
Nope. Apparently I am going to spend the year indoors.
ODDS OF SUCCESS: 800-1
4 – I will not upset fans at conventions, and doing it accidentally is no excuse
I will not ask you how you are doing only to find out your family just died in a car crash. I will not stand at the Marvel panel and go all Kevin Smith on your ass and start swearing indiscriminately at your three year-old kid. I will not tread on any of your toes and especially not accidentally trip over your wheelchair again, dude, whoever you are. Still sorry about that one. I will not begin to retch if you have horrible breath and/or extremely sweaty hands and/or body odor that would fell a cat from the top of a giant Redwood tree. I will not spill ink on your copy of "Wolverine: Origin" #1. I will not be found closing the bar at 4AM for five nights in a row even though I first stated "I'm going to bed now" at roughly 9.30 PM. Above all, if you are an amputee and we are within two miles of the Wizard booth I will not even look in your direction.
ODDS OF SUCCESS: 35-1
5 (and this is a big one) – I will not make fun of my wife's brain
My wife is a saint. She is the mother to my child and I would do well to remember that she knows where I live and can stab me in the eye while I am sleeping without the house alarm going off. I hereby vow I will never again make fun of the really crazy shit she does.
ODDS OF SUCCESS: 1-3 (I am really going to make the effort, I promise)
This month's moment of Spousal Madness
Nigh Perfect and I have now abandoned ABC's "The Bachelor" in favor of a great show called "Ghost Adventures" on the Travel Channel. If you have never seen the show, give it a shot because it is brilliant. I am not so big on most of these ghost shows for the obvious reason that they are shite and display the basic scientific procedural expertise of a third grader's science project. I suppose I get some value out of the fact I can yell at the TV for half an hour. But nothing says "I made it up" like a prerecorded EVP that speaks in entire sentences just at the right moment. On a completely unrelated topic, I had thought it impossible to be both a redneck and a nerd, but the guys of Discovery Channel's "Ghost Lab" have proven me wrong.
The "Ghost Adventures" guys, however, are a total blast because they understand what really makes compelling viewing, and that is to put a crazy guy with a scared guy and a guy with ice water in his veins and then send them out to hunt ghosts. And they seem to get more supernatural hits than the average ghost show. I am guessing this is because Zak, the crazy guy, likes to stand on the site of former demonic rituals and yell at the demons to "come and get him."
One of the first shows these guys ever did was at the Old Washoe Club in Virginia, where they seemed to catch a pretty amazing manifestation of an actual spirit moving in front of their static night vision camera. Most people's reaction upon seeing video of an actual ghost is to be either scared or skeptical. But Nigh Perfect does neither:
"I can't see it."
"Well, it's right there, Nigh Perfect. Look."
"I still don't see it."
"Sure you do. Look. It's like a big white shadow that moves from the left of the screen across to the right."
(Silence. Video replays seven more times.)
"Are they showing it yet?"
"They just showed it another seven times. It's a fucking ghost! It's the big white blob that looked all spooky and see through."
"I don't see it."
"Oh, for Pete's sake—"
The funniest part of all of this is that Nigh Perfect has expressed a desire on more than one occasion to become either a ghost hunter or – Heaven forbid – a police detective. Methinks the obvious obstacles to this pipe dream are the fact that (a) she is the hugest scaredy cat I have ever met and (b) her powers of observation might need a little tweaking. A ghost, for example, might actually have to run her over with a ghostly garbage truck for her to actually see it. But I digress.
Last week, Nigh and I were watching the "Ghost Adventure" guys as they revisited the Old Washoe Club, scene of their most astounding (to everyone except Nigh Perfect) ghost manifestation caught on tape. While Zak explored downstairs, Nick, the really brave guy, set up a camera in the exact same spot where they caught the first ghost on tape. The obvious plan was to catch the same ghost on tape again.
"Here," explained the narration, "Nick can be seen setting up one of our static night vision cameras—"
At which point Nigh Perfect started jumping up and down in her seat and pointing at the television:
"I see it! Omigod! It looks just like a person!"
"There! Fiddling around with that camera!"
"Sweetheart, that's one of the investigators."
There was a brief silence as Nigh Perfect considered what to say. She had finally seen evidence of the afterlife and I'd ruined it. She fixed me with the exact same expression as the one I see when I say "fuck" in front of her Mom.
"If you write this in Flogging," she said, "you're a dead man."
So if she asks, Chums, I never said a thing.