Between the strike and impending holiday season I've found myself in a few malls lately. I've spent a lot of my life in malls. I don't hate malls. In fact, I secretly like them. It's something to do when you've got kids. Millions of diversions, shit to buy, and the food court. But now, suddenly, it's that most won-der-ful time of the year when they start piping in those goddamn Christmas songs. There's something about those songs. As soon as they start playing, I just want to shoot someone. The more Burl Ives, or Dino or Bing I hear, the fouler my mood gets. And it happens every year. And I never really know why. So I figure it's me. I'm just a dick. Scrooge McDick.
But I don't hate Christmas. I like Christmas. Even though I'm Jewish, I never really bonded with Hanukah, multiple presents aside. Not that I'm a big manger fan. Or subscribe to any of the popular mythology. Unless it's the Life of Brian version. But still, I enjoy the season. It's all just secular Christmas to me. Lights, parties, family and presents. Except for the Egg Nog. That looks and smells like puke.
But yet every year at that moment when I first hear those sleighbells ringing and jing-jing-a-linging their tunes, I want to scream. And it happened again today. From Bloomingdales to Macy's, from the Gap to Brookstone, and now even outside, in-between the stores, there it was. Piped in from the speaker in the sky. Omnipresent. And inescapable. And it was making me furious. But I couldn't' figure out why. And then it struck me. It's the forced happiness schedule. It's someone deciding that it's happy time for everyone, whether I'm ready or not. But maybe I'm not ready. Maybe I'm still pushing and working and dealing with the ten thousand things that invade and define every week. From house crap to kid crises, from sprinkler leaks to work stoppages. Then, all of a sudden, the mall decides it's time to forget all that and I'm supposed to just shut down and “go happy” or feel like a shitheel for still being stressed.
So there I was. Stuck. Wanting to shop more while being bombarded by those noxious, unctuous songs. And just as I was about to give up and bolt for my car, I hit on the cure -- Goodfellas. Specifically that Christmas sequence where DeNiro's character starts killing everyone who might rat him out in the Lufthansa heist. Bodies are tumbling down inside garbage trucks, or found hanging in meat trucks, or discovered by kids slumped over in a Cadillac. All to the accompaniment of some happy Christmas music. And for some twisted reason, that put a smile on my face. That great juxtaposition of murder and mush. Cause that's the way I feel this time of year. I'm still grinding the shit out. Still trying to dispose of all the loose ends and the mayhem and the garbage. With this gooey background music forced on me like some mood-altering ear Soma. That's when I realized it was ok to still feel stressed out and tense, despite the sleighbells and roasting chestnuts. And that took the pressure off. I told myself I'll shut down when I'm ready. Which is usually when I can hear John Lennon's anthem to Christmas peace if you want it and quietly hum along, while doing a remix in my head to dial out Yoko. That's my Christmas. On my schedule.