Santas Anonymous and Badd Men

Marc Mero. (Name redirects to WTO story.)

Wow, you guys.

I’ve never been much of a wrestling aficionado. Unless Dwayne Johnson is involved. In which case, I’m not really watching because I care who wins.

And we’ll just leave that right there.


What? I can enjoy watching large Samoan men engage in fisticuffs if I want to. And the cookies named after them too. I’m grown. Don’t judge me. You got a crack in yo’ ass too, Susan, mkay?


Now we can move on.

Anyhow. I met Marc Mero today. He was a wrestler in the 90’s. His ring name was Johnny B. Badd. He’s been a boxer and a football player too. Now he’s a motivational speaker. And he was at Beaty this afternoon speaking.


Proof, you say?


Done tol’ you.

Anyhow. So that happened.

Then, I went to lunch at the Hilltop, which is the Warren County Career Center food program’s kitchen and restaurant. It’s always so…so freaking good. These kids get to work part of the day in a commercial kitchen for their sophomore through senior years of high school and they get certifications and job experience. They can job shadow at local restaurants if they want, through a partnership between the WCCC and the Warren Forest Higher Education Council. And the food is excellent. Every time. For seven bucks you can get soup, an entree, and dessert. Like, good food.

Risotto ‘n shit, like.

I don’t know anything about food, but that’s what Gordon Ramsey always always yells at the contestants on Hell’s Kitchen for fucking up, so I’m sure it’s fancy.

And they have homemade croutons. Courtesy of my publisher’s Instagram, mas prueba, para ti:


It’s a newsroom habit to find ourselves there once every couple of weeks or so.

Good times.

Anyhow, when I got back to work after a very carbalicious lunch of zuppa tuscona, a stromboli the size of my face stuffed with one metric assload of meat (which doesn’t sound appealing, or appropriate, actually…but we’ll leave it, for good measure), and a slice of pumpkin pie, I was ready for a nap.

But I woke up in a hurry, though, because there was a present on my desk you guys.



It says it’s from Santa, but I talked some pretty serious shit on that guy a few columns ago, so I’m pretty sure if it were really from him the box would’ve just been filled with a big hot pile of his dookie.

He seems passive-aggressive like that.

Maybe I’m just making shit up, too.

That’s always a possibility.

Whatever. My work neighbor, Mr. Ferry, insists that he has no idea who would have left a present on my desk, but he’s got a full-of-shit grin on his face so I know he knows more than he’s telling me but I don’t have a sparsely furnished, badly painted interrogation room, or a hot lamp with a bare bulb to shine in his face while I question him, so I had to just settle for telling him to pass along my sincere thanks.

The card inside gave me entirely too much credit. “Thank you for making a difference in my life and your readers. Merry Christmas.”

I can’t decipher the handwriting, but whoever it is is giving me way too much credit, that’s for sure.

My brain doesn’t like mysteries.

My publisher told me to just take the present and shut up, and I would love to do that, but first I shared a picture on Facebook and Instagram with a thank you and now I’m sharing it here because I can’t stand the idea of whoever sent it not being made aware how truly, truly grateful I am. For the gift, of course, but more than that (exponentially, more than that), for the kindness.

One of the things I wound up thinking a lot about yesterday, after a very specific conversation, was how selfish we all are.

All of us.

Me included. Human beings exist in this constant state of narcissism. Not like, clinical level, personality-disorder level, proper narcissism. But a more colloquial variety.

It’s a spectrum, and where we’re at on that spectrum just depends, moment to moment, on a multitude of dynamic factors related to where we are and what we’re doing and what’s happened to us before and what’s going to happen to us later, and what we’re afraid might happen to us later, and what we hope might happen to us later, and what we wish had happened to us – or not happened to us – before, and about one million other unknowable variables.

Sometimes we’re more narcissistic. Sometimes less.

But then sometimes we go and do something like send a really, really thoughtful and HELPFUL gift in the most selfless way possible: without putting our names under the word “from” on the tag.

And here’s what you need to know about doing that:

It is always, ALWAYS more meaningful that you sent it than what you sent.

Unless it’s a big hot pile of Santa’s dookie.

If you send me that…no, if you send ANYONE that…then you just nasty.

And unsanitary.

And you should aggressively seek a psych eval for yourself.

Because gross.

Anyhow, I never feel as though I’ve given enough of a reaction, when I receive a gift, to let the giver know that it is genuinely appreciated.

Unless it’s a big hot pile of Santa dookie.

Because I don’t appreciate that at all.

And I feel like I had even less of a reaction this time. But it’s because of this, you guys:

I was trying not to cry.

It has been such a trying, tiring year. Just so many things. So much good, too, of course. Compared with last year, I’m doing worlds better than I was, and compared with the year before that, I’m not even the same person and I’m not even living the same life I had been. So much good has come of my divorce and my efforts to create boundaries that had been needed for so, so long. There’s been a lot of growth. A lot of healing. A lot, a lot of good things.

But there have still been cares and worries and just really hard, existential, life-changing decisions to make and questions to answer that have absolutely no good answers, at all, whatsoever. And while I had the epiphany probably a decade or so ago that literally the only thing of which we can be certain in this life is uncertainty, that doesn’t ease the anxiety you’re going to feel in the midst of it.

I mean, I’m agnostic, so the comfort that comes from that fundamental truth for me – the absolute uncertainty fundamental to life – is probably what sets a lot of people’s nerves on edge. I like the uncertainty because it frees me from having to interpret the world in such a way as to preserve my faith in things I can’t begin to prove, and it allows me the flexibility to adjust my views based on what’s observed.

But sometimes I do envy those people who have faith.

In anything.

Just faith.

Because that must be such a support, when you’re struggling. It’s like a built-in rest stop for the mind. And I envy people the opportunity to rest their minds. My mind didn’t come with that setting. And it is exhausting.

And the exhaustion, eventually, just becomes a weariness with the world that can consume me, at times. And I start to fall victim to my own confirmation bias, and I start seeing the worst in the world because it’s the orientation my mind has taken on.

I know I’m cynical and I’m sarcastic and I’m sort of prickly, you guys.

I know.

But that’s just how I’ve had to develop. It’s what I’ve needed to become so that I can deflect the constant input of other people’s stuff. Empathy is a great thing.

It’s what makes us not sociopaths.

But it can also run rampant and get out of control, and when that happens it becomes very difficult to decipher where your shit ends and the world’s shit begins, and it weighs you down so fast. It takes a lot, A LOT of practice to recognize it when it’s just gearing up and put a stop to it, or at least commit to monitoring it, so that it doesn’t metastasize and infect the entire system before you can get it reined in.

So whoever my secret Santa is, I want them to know that I respect their right to remain anonymous. I even kind of really, really like it. But I need them to know how much it was appreciated. Because when you spend all day, every day, taking care of other people and putting yourself closer to the end of the line than the front, it becomes easy to assume that everyone else puts you at the back of their lines as well.

So thank you for putting me at the front of your line, anonymous person.

Goddamn it.

Now I’m gonna have to figure out how to wipe this tear out my eye again, so all these boys in the newsroom can’t see that I have emotions.


I gotta go.

Thank you.

I gotta go.


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