I am on record as a staunch supporter of Christmas. However, this time of year, I like to borrow just one component from another tradition — Festivus.
If you’re not familiar, Festivus was created by “Seinfeld” character Frank Costanza. One of the highlights of the made-up holiday was the “airing of grievances” which, I believe, is a worthwhile, real-life exercise, at least once a year.
Thus, back by lukewarm demand, I give you my apolitical list of grievances, in ascending order, for 2018.
10. “Special Days” — I’m all for dedicating a day to honor an individual or event that played an important role in our country’s history. But now we’re just getting silly. National Pancake Day, brought to you by the good folks at International House of Pancakes. National Suckling Pig Day. National Hugging Day which, given the current climate, someone should consider postponing.National Ask a Stupid Question Day. Here’s a stupid question: What are your plans for National Tortellini Day?
9. Pooh-poohing rules — This might not qualify as breaking news but the domestication of the canine continues. You know those signs people put on their lawns, “Please pick up after your dog” or those clean-up stations you see in apartment communities and public parks? Those aren’t meant for “other people.” Those are for you.
8. Winter — It’s late December and I think I’ve seen the sun for a grand total of 15 minutes since Nov. 1. Every year, I try to fool myself into thinking it’s still warm outside by not wearing a coat deep into the winter. This has proven to be a flawed strategy. My mother said the other day that she “likes the seasons” and that’s why she’ll never move to Florida. Despite the fact that we share the same DNA, I would rather bake like a glazed ham under glass than endure another January.
7. Christmas light violations — What you do inside of your own home, as long as you’re not breaking the law, is your own business. But when your illuminated icicles are still hanging from your roof in March, I’m afraid I can hold my tongue no longer. “There’s no deadline,” you say. Yes, there is. The second week in January.
6. Fake food — For years, I’ve naively been under the impression most fine restaurants were preparing their food on the premises.
That was until I received a wake-up call when, after ordering dessert at an upscale — and by upscale I mean expensive — establishment, I was informed by my server that my cheesecake was still in Houston, which was unfortunate because I was in Atlanta. How hard is it to make a cheesecake? If the restaurant was going to order out, at least the chef could have found a cheesecake somewhere in Georgia.
5. Zombie Awareness Month — (See above)
4. Runaway grocery carts — If ever there was a reason for reintroducing the pillory into the U.S. penal system, this is it. I’m hardly the first one to notice this but there is something seriously wrong with a person who would allow his discarded cart to meander across the parking lot into someone’s fender instead of depositing said cart into the return a few steps away. We shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve realized that most people will do just about anything to avoid walking another 15 feet.
3. Parking proximity — I recently bought a new car. I haven’t purchased many new cars in my life and I admit I’m a bit compulsive about keeping it dirt and dent free. Thus, in a parking lot, I usually park as far away from other vehicles as possible. Maybe I’m a little paranoid but I actually believe other drivers are going out of their way to park right next to me when there is a 100-yard radius of open spaces around me.
I’m convinced that I could park in the middle of the Bonneville Salt Flats at 2 a.m. and someone driving an ‘85 Crown Victoria would nestle in three inches from my door handle.
2. Postal problems — I can honestly say that I’ve never transacted any business in a post office that has taken longer than 30 seconds. Without fail, however, I always find myself in line behind someone with an incredibly complicated shipping predicament. “I’m shipping these live toads to Myanmar and I need a return receipt for each toad. I’d also like to pay in dimes.”
1. Distracted Drivers — Is it me or is virtually everyone you see behind the wheel of an automobile doing something else? I was behind a guy in a red pickup truck the other day. He had a cigarette in his left hand, a phone in his right and he kept veering off onto the shoulder.
He should have just gone for the trifecta and tried balancing a beach ball on his nose. Hey folks, just a reminder: A 4,000-pound car is a dangerous thing, especially while it’s moving.
Now that that’s out of my system, Merry Christmas.
Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. You can reach him at email@example.com.