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Naughty List for Life

December 15, 2011

I was a naughty kid. 

I know, I know.  Hard to believe it when you look at me in this 1979 photograph, isn’t it.  

Hard to believe it when you notice my adorable “Little Angel” iron-on T-shirt, isn’t it. 

Hard to believe it when you see my mom paired it with a mock turtleneck, isn’t it.  A mock turtleneck of course being widely recognized as an impenetrable forcefield of which no evil intentions can enter.  [Also see heart-printed dickies.] 

Oh, yes.  There we are.  Me.  The real one.  The one with the vulture talons.  The lovable brat you’ve come to admire — though, yes, also the one you wish to retroactively sentence to a life of community service spent cleaning up barf off the Chuck E. Cheese floor. 

Christmas reminds me of that girl.  

Because this is just about the time of year when good ol’ Saint Nick begins his final inspection rounds — checking off the good and the bad and really getting down to the nitty-gritty list-making of who’s gonna get what they’d hoped for versus what they actually deserve. 

You’d probably expect this is right about the time most kids were stepping up their game.  A little more please-and-thank-youing.  A lot more nicety-nice-nice.  All of that jazz. 

However, as the Christmas season descended upon my own childhood, that’s right about when things spun out of control.  Tantrums, evil scheming, shenanigans, R-rated Jingle Bells lyrics. 

Here.  This is where it starts.  I was born in the month of Christmas.  So right out of the gate I was put to the test.  And I have to imagine I failed.  For instance, I’m pretty sure after this picture was taken I immediately crapped in my new Santa jumper.

"Mom, I got a present for you here."

Take that, Santa.

From there I advanced considerably in my Yuletide naughtiness. 

For starters, I learned the fine art of unfolding paper, foil and cellophane behind my bed without a smidgen of a sound.  I took my lessons from the professional Rubik’s Cube solvers.  My nimble elf-like fingers could fly across the packages so quickly, so efficiently, that by the time I was done (paper carefully smoothed, ends perfectly retaped, package returned to exact longitudinal location under the tree) not even an expert bomb inspector could detect my sophisticated tampering techniques.  This led to some Oscar-worthy performances come Christmas morning in which I feigned a trademarked look of surprise.  (Think Ed McMahon on your doorstep holding a Snuffaluffagus-sized check.)

Another winner. Thanks, Aunt Lela.

Then there were your garden variety of holiday misdemeanors I’d commit each year.  None too worthy of a lengthy discussion since they were none too original. 

1.) Hand-picking my own presents to receive from my brother.  Followed by (once again) feigning surprise on Christmas morning.  “Tony, how’d you know I wanted this exact Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox?”  2.) Sucking candy cane tips into sugarized spears that would rival a prison shank and were also quite suited for puncturing bodily organs and/or decapitating a foam nativity shepherd.  3.) Tantrumming over having to serve as candle lighter during Christmas Eve church services.  4.) Mocking the presents given by the elderly.  To name a few.    

Where I really went wrong though was the year I committed outright blasphemy.  I turned my wickedness right on the Big Man himself. 
It was Christmas Eve, 1984.  My brother and I decided that, when Santa came to fill our stockings, we’d give ourselves the gift of laughter.  We’d been cooking up the plan all day but waited until our parents went to bed before executing Operation Santa’s-Ass-is-Grass.  

"When my motor skills improve, we're coming for you, Santa."

When the coast was clear, it was go-time.  First we ran a few yards of string across the room in front of the stockings.  Then we tacked the string to the walls, making sure it was taut and ankle height.  Finally we strategically placed a tray of milk and cookies on a stool, just beyond the tripwire. 

 After all of this we realized we had a problem.   The string was glow-in-the-dark white.  So we stayed up well into the night coating the string with black model airplane paint.  It was painstaking, time-intensive work.  But because our blood sugar was fully spiked, having thrown back a few candy cane switchblades earlier in the day, we were up to the challenge.
That night, I could hardly sleep.  In an ironic twist, I became so consumed by the prank I could hardly think about the forthcoming presents that typically held center stage all season-long. 
Morning came and I flew out of bed.  
Mom, did you hear anything in the night? 
No, not like reindeer hooves.  Did you hear any loud noises? 
Maybe something like an obese man smashing his face into concrete? 
Maybe more like glass breaking?
Cookies being flung at the wall?     
Operation Failure.  I had forgotten a little known fact.  Santa can levitate. 
But that pretty much did it for me.  After that, I was blacklisted for life. 
How can I be sure?  In the Christmas of 1985, I received a white wicker bicycle basket.  Instead of a Cabbage Patch doll.  As added torture, the box containing the basket was the exact dimensions of a Cabbage Patch Kid box.  I know, because I measured it.  And then remeasured it.  And then became so confident I didn’t even bother sneak-peeking behind my bed.  For once, my gap-mouthed Christmas morning expression was real.
In the Christmas of 1989, I received sheep-printed flannel sheets.  This package was the exact dimensions of a garment box containing a pair of Collector’s Edition, junior-sized, jewel-buttoned, tapered-legged, white-washed Guess brand jeans.  The latter would’ve aided my swift advancement in the junior high pecking order.  The former sealed my sad adolescent fate — forever cozy, dateless and asleep by 9:00.
Over the years, I realized the jeans snub hurt me the worst.  Unlike the Cabbage Patch Kid, a fleeting fancy, I was certain the jeans would’ve reset my path in life.  Without the coveted triangle emblem on my behind, the Big Man had carried out his brilliant revenge. 
Or maybe I’m reading into things too much.  Maybe he simply recalled what had happened to my Santa jumper.   
25 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2011 1:13 pm

    Mom did tell us “SOMEONE TRIED TO TRIP SANTA LAST NIGHT.” The problem was we used light string and didn’t secure it well enough to the door frame. Suppose we could try it again this season?? bwahaha

    • December 16, 2011 4:50 pm

      Your memory must be better than mine on this! I don’t remember her even acknowledging it (@#**$!), which would’ve been cruel and unusual punishment. Yes, I remember in our test run, the string would come down every time. We should’ve used actual wire (not string) — like the professionals.

  2. December 15, 2011 1:15 pm

    Any time I see a kid with the word “angel” on their shirt, I wonder. Usually, if you feel like you have to label them that way, it’s wishful thinking on Mom’s part.

    • December 16, 2011 4:51 pm

      You’re right there. My mom was a realist so I’m pretty sure someone else bought that for me. My mom knew good and well that the shirt was a lie.

  3. December 15, 2011 1:18 pm

    There is a surprising lack of sarcasm in the blogging world this morning – I was starting to hear angels singing “We Are the World” (which happens to be my theme song, so I’m not knocking it). So thank you for salvaging my day with some Santa humor (well, I guess it’s pretty early in the day).

    I still have my Guess jeans hanging in my closet. I think they fit me for two days in 1982, yet they have managed to avoid three decades of trips to Goodwill.

    • December 20, 2011 8:44 pm

      Bizarre — this comment ended up in my WordPress spam box (which I only check on rare occasion) between comments from “Watch NFL Online” and “Lottery Winner.”

      Those Guess jeans are survivors alright. “I think they fit me for two days in 1982.” Love that line.

  4. December 15, 2011 1:40 pm

    I marvel at your memory and your (mother’s?) archive of photos. Maybe because my childhood was filled with real live nightmares!
    Happy Holidays.

    • December 16, 2011 4:55 pm

      Ugh, Les — that’s no good. I’m glad you survived to live a normal life.

      My mom loaned me the archives, although I’m sure she doesn’t even notice they’re gone.

      Happy holidays to you and yours!

  5. December 15, 2011 2:07 pm

    This was too much! Bwa ha ha! The tripwire painting was genius! Why didn’t my brothers and I think of doing that?! (Your poor poor mother…)

    So sorry Santa didn’t repay you with those jeans or Cabbage Patch doll. But take heart in knowing I did have a pair of those jeans and my current life can be described as “forever cozy, dateless and asleep by 9:00.”

    • December 16, 2011 5:15 pm

      “I did have a pair of those jeans and my current life can be described as ‘forever cozy, dateless and asleep by 9:00.'” Well played, my friend! Well played indeed.

      I remember getting several pairs of Pepe jeans in later years — but for some reason, I was always skipped over when it came to the coveted Guess brand. Santa just knew. He knew what the cool kids wore.

  6. December 15, 2011 5:58 pm

    Wow! The tripwire was a very intricately planned plot against jolly, old St. Nick. Painting the string black to disguise it was brilliant.

    • December 16, 2011 5:13 pm

      Thanks, Paprika! Unfortunately, it would’ve been way more brilliant had we used actual wire in the first place. We honestly spent an hour or two painting that damn string.

  7. tracy permalink
    December 15, 2011 6:17 pm

    would it help if i bought you some non mom jeans now?

    • December 16, 2011 5:11 pm

      Thanks for the offer, Tracy. But maybe I’m getting to the age where I should check out mom jeans. If you have anything with a comfortable elastic waistband, maybe some back pockets so high that I could call them my “backpack”? That would be great. Send ’em on over.

  8. December 15, 2011 6:25 pm

    I think my favorite is the picture of you trying to hide your smile at your brother’s present. It was hard to pick a favorite because the description of Operation Santa’s-ass-is-grass was pretty amazing. It nearly made me crap in the Santa jumper I’m presently wearing.

    • December 16, 2011 5:23 pm

      Your last line made me laugh my head off — but I didn’t crap as I only do that in Santa jumpers.

      I heard Forever Lazy has a similar line of Santa jumpers for adults now. That must be where you purchased yours?

  9. mary permalink
    December 15, 2011 6:46 pm

    This. Was. Hilarious. Black model airplane paint. Candy cane switchblades. Ahh, I needed that laugh, thanks, Angie!

    • December 16, 2011 5:05 pm

      Thanks, Mary. Seriously, we could get candy canes so sharp — I wish I could replace all my culinary with a set of them. Someday I’m going to write a bad detective novel based on this. “The weapon is missing because it was made of sugar. Oh God, he stabbed him with a candy cane! And then he ate it!” Dah-dah-DAAAAH!

  10. Erin permalink
    December 15, 2011 10:23 pm

    I’m pretty sure you crapped in that Santa jumper BEFORE the picture was taken. Why else would it be busting open at the crotch????? You are too funny

    • December 16, 2011 5:06 pm

      Good eye! I can tell you’re a veteran mommy — you can spot a bulging diaper a mile away!

  11. December 16, 2011 8:07 am

    I have never heard of a kid so naughty they tried to prank Santa! That is hilarious and terrible.

    • December 16, 2011 5:08 pm

      Yes, I achieved a whole new level of naughtiness. I’m surprised I wasn’t dumped by the side of the road by my parents. Oh, wait — I was (really). But they came back.

  12. December 16, 2011 3:33 pm

    You rigged a trip wire for Santa Claus? I bow in deference to your naughtiness. I was no angel, believe me, but that thought never occurred to me. I wish it had.

    • December 16, 2011 5:29 pm

      You must share some of those stories someday. I only recall you hanging out with nice pro baseball players in Florida. There’s got to be a missing part of the story where you kick them in the shins?


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