Secret Santa, Still Stuck On the 401 Westbound

PLUS: #MondayManCrush year-end special

It’s the most wonderful time of year, and I want to make extra sure I’ve addressed everyone’s concerns, neuroses and conspiracy theories, because I really, really want you to get just what you asked for.

(Or, as expressed by H.L. Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. You know, like that.)

To kick off, have we all had our annual gobsmacked day of incredulity that there’s snow, in Canada, in winter? In my era, when millionaires cried if you didn’t tax them enough, cars were bigger than a studio apartment, and kids got swaddled in snowsuits so thickly padded they were unable to flex their elbows or knees between October and April, heavy snow squalls were eagerly anticipated by young and old.

What we now regard as an apocalypse that someone forgot to add to our calendar was innocently called “White Christmas” and generally agreed to be Hallmark-card levels of picturesque and desirable, even singable if you’re Bing Crosby.

We’re a cranky lot these days, though. Snow, in Canada a truly indulgent weather event consisting of billions of ice crystals swirling in a gale-force wind, lowers the ambient and body temperatures a fair degree, and there’s famously no one to complain to who can make it stop if you decide it’s not really high on your bucket list.

(“Out of our comfort zone” is a concept now best reserved for people like J.K. Rowling, the gal who invented an entire fantasy world of fledgling witches and wizards, who desperately refuses to accept that transgender folx could ever exist, no matter how many actual transgender folx keep smiling and waving at her.)

Snow is no longer picturesque. It is quite simply shivery and inconvenient, and means Uber Eats can’t get to you with your iced coffee and grass-fed macaroni and cheese in under forty minutes. This is unacceptable. It’s sorry looking for now, but with Gen Z’s and food.

The sheer offensiveness of snow in winter boils down to the difficulties it poses to people driving cars. Please remember that drivers are the most important people in the world, and only grudgingly accept us pedestrians and cyclists because it gives them something amusing to aim at and hopefully kill when they’re bored. Driving cars without impediment is the ultimate measure of all things.

(Shall we have a green belt around the city to buy us one more day on sinking ship Earth? Will I have to walk to the convenience store? Pave that sucker NOW!)

I never have understood why drivers, who are as addicted to their cars as junkies are to smack, to the degree that living underwater during the remaining two decades before our extinction is a fate the rest of us just have to accept, always seem to find driving their cars a nightmare of effort and tedium.

You’re basically sitting in an armchair, flying above a paved highway that was engineered for your safety and comfort, pushing your right foot down and holding an Italian deli meat sandwich in the hand that’s not turning the steering wheel half an inch in each direction, while listening to Carly Simon.

Why are you moaning about “the long trek”, like you’re some desperate refugee trudging barefoot through Islington with all your worldly belongings in a President’s Choice bag, when all you have to do is sit resentfully in your air-conditioned flying armchair as it conveys itself from Royal York Road to Bloor and Yonge?

“Oh, but you’re so far away!” Yes, bitch, that’s the problem that the automobile solves, as opposed to people spontaneously bursting into flames during the summer, which is the problem it creates.

Next on Santa’s list: it’s OK to say “Merry Christmas”, or at least I’m so assured by a US Senator on Twitter—name of Kennedy, apparently just coincidentally named after that great statesmanly family of visionary Marilyn-bangers—which is a welcome relief, because I was just about to message, “Hail, Satan!” to my entire address book because of all that unrelenting social pressure.

Moving along, in a display of bile surprising no one, US Republicans and right-wing pundits, basically the only people left on Twitter, expressed their stern disapproval about the super secretively-executed, but otherwise eagerly-anticipated visit of Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to address Congress:

Tucker Carlson: “Zelensky has declared war on Christianity.” (But, according to Tucker, so has your grandmother by giving out Quality Street hard candies on Hallowe’en).

Donald Trump Jr. : “Zelensky is basically an ungrateful international welfare queen.” (Does this mean Franken-forehead would be OK with an international welfare queen if they expressed gratitude? Maybe it’s unreasonable to expect subtle shadings of meaning from a guy who proudly wears his special Friday-night shirt, unbuttoned to the navel, made out of the American flag. )

Josh Hammer: “Raise your hand if you are personally DONE with the Ukraine gravy train.” (If by “Ukraine” you mean “billionaire tax cuts and corporate entitlements”, hell, yeah!)

Benny Johnson: “This ungrateful piece of sh*t does not have the decency to wear a suit to the White House — no respect the country [sic] that is funding his survival. Track suit wearing eastern european con-man mafia. Our leaders fell for it. They have disgraced us all. What an incredible insult.” (Umm, Benny, darling, he literally just came from active combat in a war zone, fuckface, and please do note that I frequently use that as a term of endearment.)

I know that you know that in conservative-land, since a long long time, up is down, might is right, and everything you know to be factually true is really just the smoke and mirrors of the Deep State.

If you’re my age, you lived through the Cold War under your desk at school, heard Ronald Reagan inveigh against the USSR as “the evil empire”, and cautiously celebrated Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of “glasnot” (openness) and “perestroika” (restructuring) signalling the gradual opening up of the Soviet Union to the reality of democracy.

Hardly daring to trust our eyes or ears, we witnessed the subsequent fall of the Berlin Wall and communist autocracy in 1989, to the sounds of Leonard Bernstein conducting the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, whose text by Schiller he rewrote for the occasion to make it an Ode to “Freiheit”, freedom, instead of the original “Freude”, joy.

The collective psychic tremor was so unexpected, so intoxicating, we might even have believed, just for a reeling-drunk moment, that the reverberations of Beethoven’s modernist masterpiece were the new trumpets of Jericho, blasting into dust every dictatorship of the Eastern Bloc.

We had experienced an entire thrilling story arc from oppression to liberation. It chokes me up even now to recall the youth of Berlin tearing down the wall with their bare hands, to recall my awestruck realization that our righteous optimism had not been in vain and that the world was returning to the path of justice, jolted back into its proper and eternal orbit. “Alle Menschen werden Brüder…” All humanity united through freedom.

And now?

Now we find that we lived through those decades of agony and ecstasy, of terror and transfiguration, so that, in 2022, the former USSR (now the Russian Federation but lipstick on the same old pig), the byword for bad for the better part of a century, would be the good guys, the guys you root for.

Why? Because Republican values, poisoned over decades by the slow drip of neoliberalism, now dictate that Goliath must be our hero, not David, because Goliath is big. Strong. A winner, like a billionaire, not a loser, like a welfare queen. Might is right.

Republicans, historically the most vociferous in condemning the Soviet Union, now actually support Putin, a marauding psychotic and former KGB operative, over Zelensky, arguably the world’s most inspiring leader at this moment and a success story straight from the “American Dream” playbook.

I was about to describe this particular right-wing plunge down the rabbit hole as “unbelievable”, but that would only be the case in an ecosystem of truth-telling and common ground. We’ve all experienced the implosion of common-sense conservatism; we’re no longer even surprised that extremist Republicans and alt-right hoodlums would revile Zelensky—a Jew who they smear as a “Nazi”, in a twist of repugnant but weirdly predictable illogic that justifies their opposition and the Russian invasion. They revile him for uniting and leading a terrorized population determined, man, woman and child, to fight to the bitter end for their freedom—a word I might have heard a couple of times out of the mouths of right-wingers.

Conservatives apparently wanted more than anything to gaslight us for eighty years. Done! I give you my exhausted incomprehension, tied up with a satin ribbon, and it’s so very much not a beautiful thing.

And as a stocking stuffer, note the level of discourse: these days, thanks to the miracle of Trump + technology, when you disagree with a world leader, you just out-and-out call them “a piece of shit” in a public forum, with no shame and no substance, in front of millions of people. The concept of saying nothing is dead, because facts are important and your opinion is a fact.

Trump, though his reign be done, though his usefulness is no longer worth the baggage, lives on in the death of civility: the dismantling of any tiresome inhibitions we might have had around sounding like assassins in a back alley, or hurting people’s feelings, or being incorrigible, defiant liars. Trump showed us how to remove the filter; the algorithms remind us that the more obnoxious your opinion, the more traction it gets. That will go nicely with the Terry’s Chocolate Orange that the cat loves to play with.

Anyone else? Oh yes, the people in Toronto—but, and here’s the interesting bit, not from Toronto—marching with signs that insist “Trudeau must go.”

And why is that? I’m not sure they themselves know, or surely they would have asked us Trudeau-stans who live here for permission to clog up our roadways with their Mars Bar wrappers and GO train stubs and puffer jackets.

They’re still whining about mask mandates, even as public health professionals urge us once again to kit up, as though even the suggestion of wearing a mask, even to express solidarity with their community, is like being hooded and shipped to Guantanamo Bay for water-boarding.

They’re still calling Justin “a dictator” even though he didn’t actually issue the public health directives; as though his brief but decisive use of the Emergency Act to end the chaos of the “Freedom Convoy” (and who else was taking action? Thank you.) was an unbearable assault on the rule of law, unlike their invasion of our capital city to protest wholly uncontroversial public health measures and abuse the forbearing locals with misogynist and homophobic taunts and physical violence.

They blame Trudeau for inflation, when inflation is a worldwide concern right now and largely fueled by corporate greed. They don’t understand economics, but definitely hate the money Trudeau pumped into the economy at the very start of the pandemic; money that ensured that there would be a functioning Toronto to protest in. Money without which they’d all be out of work and living on the streets, having lost their homes, but, Trudeau.

They are sad they didn’t get their way, because what can you do when your guy isn’t elected? Look south for the answer. The people—just not all, or even most of, the people—will take matters into their own tyrannical hands.

Above all they want not freedom, but autonomy, which is freedom screaming “fuck you” while blindfolded.

Hey, Fordnation, you know what your present is, and shame on you for peeking: Doug Ford, who never met a senior he didn’t want to shove into a long-term care facility at random and feed “bio-similar” drugs or a developer whose ass he didn’t want to cover with kisses.

You stole our city when we amalgamated, by sheer weight of your hockey bags and SUN newspapers; we knew it would be forevermore suburbanites against townies, drivers against sustainability, “taxpayers” against “freeloaders” (though tax dollars really don’t fund programs), teachers against parents, because being the leader of everybody, not just the people you “like”, is just goldarn too hard work.

So, in Toronto, we wake up bleary-eyed and weary of soul to yet another day fighting yet another fight for basic human rights like paid sick days and decent wages; fighting the never-ending fight against privatization of our waterfront and the principle that there’s such as thing as the commons: Ontario Place, parks, Green Belt, wetlands. These are things of which Doug Ford, a mediocre accountant dressed up like a leader, knows the price, but not the value.

Here, I’m gifting you the grifter, the contemptible collectible: Doug Ford, sour sprite of suburban spite in quasi-human form.

Save the bow and paper for next year.

Oh, and I hear there’s another convoy planned for February, which I guess is turning into the right wing’s frat boy version of Winter Carnival.

There’s a story behind all this current right-wing populist rage. You see, Trudeau, as leader of the party governing with a minority, struck a deal with Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party (left wing) that they would get concessions if they would vote with the Liberals. This alliance effectively protects Trudeau from any vote of confidence (bringing down the government) until 2025.

Conservatives are apoplectic, which is MY present.

#Monday Man-Crush rears its salacious, gooning head once again, and OMG yes, I know it’s not Monday. Are you new here? Did you take your meds? No, seriously, did you?

I’m giving this the spin that it’s actually not late for last Monday but early for Boxing Day, which is when you put on those big gloves and punch everybody in the face who didn’t buy you the right size anything. Even the bathrobe you ordered from Amazon was tight around the waist.

#Monday Man Crush is my asymmetrically (=randomly) produced feature for which I have self-mandated the task of teasing the heck out of unavailable yet luscious straight dudes, who, because I use the veil of the Internet like the Wizard of Oz uses his curtain, are unable to do anything about my gleefully concupiscent disrespect.

I heart Volodymyr so very much, I wrote this entirely in beginner Ukrainian. Mistakes are mine alone.

Volodymyr Zeleneskyy! How your name rolls sweetly around abscessed near-toothless cavity of my mouth like soothing peeled grape that puts me in mind of your unhoused testicle, but not for public forum. And think of words “near-toothless” if you want to get handle on all I can offer as tempting curtain-raiser.

Valushya, Ukraine diminutive I just made up, Valushya, look at me with grave intensity, you little furry doll with more doll inside, and more doll inside, and yet more doll, you get idea, and tell me what you want.

A pair of socks I should knitting for you maybe, army green, with national embroidery? To hide your hairy knees making you so shy? A traditional white Ukraine shirt for folk dancing, shirt of romance with pouffy sleeves shall I sew? I am perhaps cooking some tripe with smoked fish, some kind ethnic pancake and stuffing with kasha? I love good stuffing! Da!

Speak to me, as I dream you are pinning me to wall in fancy Ukraine Presidential Office, safely underneath giant gilt eagle surveillance camera, and making dancey-dancey with tongue like in Busby Berkeley moving picture.

Volodymyr, you called Putin bastard’s bluff and stood in open daring him to kill you! You are big sexy hero! You fighting like hungry brown bear of steppes alongside men of Ukraine armed by US, also special weapon: scary old babushkas in headscarves with hot cabbage soup in vats.

You not leaving town and hiding in bunker like Mike Pence before hanging. You saving democracy, you giving your citizens courage and hope, you giving speeches that shaked and stirred, like very dry martini. Special tip for you: Just tell vodka that vermouth got taking prisoner of war. Vodka will having make do itself. Da? Da!

You are comedian who became country’s leader, not like America where country’s leader became comedian. But not funny ha-ha like you! Funny peculiar! I liking yours better, and Valushya I don’t meaning just only career path!

Volodymyr Zelenskyy! You without shadow of doubt bravest, noblest, most strongest admirable leader in world today. You are mensch, not “Nazi”! Warrior but cuddly. And most of it all, man who I’m praying is one day leaving me ravished in ditch, pants around ankles, maybe bleeding teensy bit, but no worse than after laser wart removal. Davushya is content.

God speed, Valushya!! But not orthodox God!! God of Ukraine in poufy romantic shirt!!

Side of bed closest to door is always available to you. Come soon, when hell of war is behind us and let me inhale man musk of your ripe, stinking, hairy body. Just please not sliding off.

Actually, Valushya, on second thinkings, soap of Dial on edge of tub. You please rinsing off all reeking hint of Putin! I waiting fifteen more minutes, maybe twenty. OK? OK! I go get sour cream ready, #MondayManCrush of today, maybe of decade—maybe forever!


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