Jingle Bells, Batman Smells

Last year, I made one of my New Year’s resolutions “eat more cake.” It had occurred to me that we often reserve cake for solely birthdays, when it’s a dessert worth having on a much more regular basis. I am proud to say that I CRUSHED that resolution.

Other resolutions I actually fulfilled included “do/see more things that blow your mind” and “have an espresso martini.” I failed, however, to have a hair-braiding party, buy more blue potatoes and purple carrots, and explore more national parks.

I’m doubling down on my effort on the national parks this year, while abandoning the braids and indigo-colored foods. I also am repeating the resolution to blow my own mind more often (one of the countless articles I read this last week explained the value of experiencing awe on an emotional, mental, and physical level, so).

Other 2023 resolutions still include the inane (have an oat milk taste-test party), the reasonable (write more; attempt an ultramarathon), and the lofty (get sponsored; buy property), but generally, I’m just focused on my health. Exercising less but more effectively, stretching consistently, drinking less beer (tragic, I know). Most of all, I am resolved to travel for myself this year, when I spent the majority of 2022 traveling for others — willingly, most of the time happily — and feeling routinely exhausted.

Everything is on track thus far, it’s just been … 15 days.

I’d like to write a book of short theories that I develop over my lifetime, including others’ that I collect. There would be no scientific backing to these whatsoever. Just observations that seem to be true. Three of my own theories would include 1) every small town in New York and New Jersey has some sort of f*cked up, 3- or 5-way intersection, 2) No Christmas album is complete without a song that either features children or Shania Twain, and 3) Germans are generally cranky because they’re thoroughly dehydrated.

Ryan has a theory that by squishing bugs on the wall and leaving them there, he is deterring other bugs from invading his space. I can’t say that this theory doesn’t have some merit. It does genuinely seem that there are fewer spiders in his room, having dead spiders on the wall to warn them to stay the hell away. That said, I didn’t appreciate finding a squished bug on my own wall that Ryan supposedly crushed months ago and, to his delight, “is still there!”

I laughed out loud a week later, however, when Megan, examining the wall, asked, “What’s this here?” I hadn’t removed the bug — I wanted to ward off others.

A couple months ago, I went to get a flu shot. My nurse asked, as they seemingly often do, “Are you good with needles?”

Is ANYONE “good” with needles? I feel like you’d have to be a heroin addict or certifiably insane answer with a whole-hearted “yes.” I think I replied, “Umm…”

Early in December, I was visiting one of my best friends, Alana, prior to a work trip. We were catching up on life and talking holiday plans, when she recounted a hilarious story from the previous weekend.

She and her boyfriend, Grant, had been invited to Grant’s uncle’s house. His uncle’s Christmas tree was already up, and on it were ornaments for every year in the last couple decades. The idea was that you’d see the year — say, 1999 — and on it would be written things that happened during those 365 days.

“What a cute idea!” Alana thought — until she started reading them. Grant’s uncle managed to find only the most unsavory events to define the year-ornaments. Some choice examples include:

“Uncle Jim died”

“Global recession”

“Clinton scandal”


“Soviet Union disintegration”

My personal favorite: “Jeff’s hernia surgery.”

Here are two notes I wrote down and now struggle to recall the point I wanted to make.

  1. “Chocolate milk out the nose.” My best guess on this one is that I was at home, recalling how it was not uncommon for me as a child to laugh so hard that milk squirted out my nose. I was required to drink a glass of milk at dinner, which I agreed to — so long as I could convert it to chocolate milk. My dad undoubtedly left me in stitches over something silly, hence the milk out the nose. However, I don’t think this affliction was particular to me. I think most people my age can recall a time in their childhood that some beverage squirted out their nose. This belief then reminded me of an article I read about children having their own sort of “lore” — sharing common experiences like typing 80085 on the calculator to spell “BOOBS” or changing the lyrics of Jingle Bells to “Jingle bells / Batman smells / Robin laid an egg.” At least I think that’s why I wrote “Chocolate milk out the nose” down.
  2. “Electric train in supermarkets.” This one is fuzzier. I believe Fletch was telling me about such a supermarket in his neighborhood that has an electric train running through it. All I can say about that is why don’t more supermarkets have electric trains? Moreover, why are electric trains so freaking enchanting? Just me?

Speaking of “Jingle bells, Batman smells” — a couple memories came back to me while home for Christmas that left me dying no matter the context. The first is remembering how my dad would frequently change the lyrics in Here Comes Santa Claus from “So let’s give thanks to the Lord above” to “So pull down your pants and do a little dance” — “’cause Santa Claus is coming tonight.” Just thinking about that makes me laugh, but then him actually doing it while we played the song at our Christmas “gig” slayed me.

The second memory — coincidentally, also Batman-related — was just thinking about our old white Chevrolet Suburban. It was the coolest car imaginable when dad picked us up one day after school, all shiny and new. Over time, it got into such a state of disrepair (dog hair, spilled Dunkin’ Coolattas, torn seats patched with Batman duct tape) that either Fletch or Julia coined it “the cardboard box.” I’m literally chuckling right now thinking of us rolling through Warwick in our “cardboard box.”

I almost gagged when I saw a port-a-potty in my neighborhood with the brand name “Honey Bucket.” That is all.

Whenever the weather is decent, I ride my bike to the climbing gym. On multiple occasions, when I’ve been about a mile and a half down my street, this attractive man has been out on his porch. Every time he’s out there, he gives me this truly genuine smile and a wave. I hadn’t seen him in a while, but this last week, a different attractive, genuinely smiley man waved to me in the exact same location. It makes me wonder if there’s some magical energy happening on this corner.

That said, I find that people generally smile and wave at me when I’m on my bike. I think it may be because they think I’m actually a child? First off, my helmet is covered in flowers and butterflies, and I ride an orange bike that several of my friends have deemed a kid’s bike, though it belonged to an adult woman before me. Eliminating these two factors, I should also note that I do occasionally wear my hair in pigtails to the gym, and sometimes I feel compelled to wear my pink heart sunglasses on top of that.

Even if folks do think I’m actually a child riding my bike, I will take the friendly acknowledgement. In contrast, I feel like I’m universally HATED as a trail runner. When you’re running on trails, you either encounter hikers — who are pissed off that you have the audacity to run when hiking is a perfectly suitable cardio exercise — or mountain bikers — who are pissed off that you’re ruining their “flow” (really their ability to bomb downhill with reckless abandon). The number of dirty looks I have received by merely existing as a trail runner is countless.

The jury is out on the perception of me as a climber. I generally think of climbers as mostly awkward, but good-intentioned people. My dad friend, John (better known as Captain), would beg to differ. He very generously picked up some climbing shoes from me from the La Sportiva in Boulder and had only disparaging words to say.

“Never have I encountered a higher concentration of a**holes in one place!” he proclaimed. “The cashier was an absolute douche. He had macaroni and cheese all over him and then informed me, ‘hey man, I’ll have to finish this super important project before I can help you.’ This ‘super important project’ took him all of two minutes!”

Not all climbers are alike. Not all all outdoor enthusiasts are alike.

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