The theme of this installment of Weekend Etc. is “Christmas Sucks.” I found this out a few days ago when one of the Weekend editors called me at home. The conversation went something like this:

Paul Wong
Kana”s atmosphere is almost as interesting as the food.<br><br>YONI GOLDSTEIN/Daily

Me: Mrrguh?

Editor: Hello? Is Ben there?

M: Ergh. Sleeping

E: Dude, it”s almost three in the afternoon. Get in the game.

M: Rough, rough night last night. Still drunk. I”ll write about it in my next column.

E: Oh no you won”t, douchebag. You know why? Because we own your bitch ass and you write about what we say, capisce? And for Thursday you”re writing about how Christmas sucks. Everybody knows that Christmas sucks. Shopping malls suck. Going broke buying gifts sucks. Santa Claus is a twisted, exploitive capitalist felcher, and he sucks. And come on, a holiday that celebrates the birth of a goddamn religious figure? Are you kidding me?

M: Ugh. Jane, Christmas is a great holiday. There”s nothing about it that sucks.

E: It sucks, trust me. So, use your silly little talents of observational humor and write about malls and Christmas trees and Santa and Jesus and how they all suck. God, Ben, are you OK? You sound like you”re throwing up.

M: Bluuuuuuuuurgh!

Anyway, Christmas, despite what the rest of this newspaper pullout section would have you believe, is easily in the top five of American holidays. It doesn”t suck. Not at all. You know what really sucks? George Harrison died of throat cancer last week, that”s what sucks. The “Quiet Beatle” is dead, for Christ”s sake. Now that my blood is pumping, I”ll tell you what else sucks:

n Apparently, kids aren”t allowed to play dodgeball in school anymore. As the argument goes, schools are frequently becoming scenes of violence, and anything the administration can do to avoid creating more tension between students would be beneficial.

This, to me, is a tragedy. How else are children supposed to learn about societal pecking orders and elitism? In dodgeball, the strong, popular, well-bred children gang up on the near-sighted, obese, carbuncular ones, pelting them as hard as their young arms will allow, often aiming for the face or groin. This is the way the world works. Dodgeball gives children a much-needed lesson in reality it is a microcosm of the social structures that will always be in place in this country, like it or not. Or rather, love it or leave it, you bleeding-heart liberal pinko sons of bitches.

n It sucks that every town has to harbor at least one “Cat Lady.” You know which lady I mean. For various reasons, she felt a loneliness so deep and for so long that she became desperate for any kind of affection, to have something that needed her. So, she got a cat. Then, she got another one. Then, she got 18 more. She rarely leaves her apartment or small house except to go to the grocery store (which she calls “the market”), and she only goes out to buy more cat food.

She wears holiday-related theme sweaters, tapered and whitewashed Jordache jeans, black Reebok high tops with the twin Velcro straps. When she does go out in public, people avoid her. Children are afraid of her. They think she”s a witch. And because her holiday-related theme sweaters (which she wears, sadly, year round) are usually covered with tons of cat hair, there are many people who are, in effect, allergic to her.

But to be honest, the Cat Lady doesn”t really fit the description of “sucking.” She”s just a very sad character. Actually, you know what, I don”t like the idea of an entire column about things that suck. The rest of this column will be devoted to what are, in my opinion, the saddest things in the world. And I”m going to stop bulleting my points, because bulleting sucks even harder than Christmas. I think I”ll return to the dependable numbering system. Hey guys, do you know what”s really, really sad?

1) Men who hang out at the DMV simply because of the large amount of 16-year-old girls with new licenses.

2) The fact that Michael Jackson doesn”t even look like his sister LaToya anymore, but rather some kind of fiendish space alien with a horrible nose job.

3) And that the other sad MJ, 38-year-old Michael Jordan, thought he could return from retirement, be a superstar again, and lead the Washington Wizards to contender status. The Wizards!!! He”s old and washed up. And sad.

4) It”s sad when you wake up next to someone you don”t remember meeting, whose name you don”t remember ever knowing, and you realize that this hideous mongrel of a human form, snoring and smelling of the monkey house, is just another in the long line of sexual encounters you”ve had in an attempt to feel something, anything, other than the constant, overpowering sense of self-loathing.

5) That the release date of Arnold Schwarzenegger”s political action thriller “Collateral Damage” is postponed until Feb. 8, when it will be completely untimely. Thanks for that sad shit, Mr. Heartless Movie Executive.

6) That the cowards who shot Christopher “Biggie Smalls, Notorious B.I.G., Big Poppa” Wallace haven”t come forward yet. God sees all, you sad, sad men.

7) That Ringo, like the cockroach, will outlive us all.

Ben Goldstein can be reached at bjgoldst@umich.edu. But you”d better give him a week to cool down.

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