Friday, December 4, 2009

Drat--the season had barely started

I don't have a war with Christmas (Bill O'Reilly forfend!), but I do have one small annual skirmish:

Each year, I try to make it from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve without hearing "The Little Drummer Boy." There's no deep-seated psychobiographical reason for this, no childhood trauma connected to drummer boys, for example. I would even go so far as to aver that some of my best friends are drummers. I just find that song a bit annoying. A little too repetitious, a little lacking in variation, a little too . . . too. It's as if "MacArthur Park" or "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" were a Christmas song.

Avoiding a song that seems nearly omnipresent in public places (not to mention on radio or TV) for four or five weeks is a lot harder than, say, avoiding the #20 bus. You get a lot less warning, for one thing. Still, I find the challenge bracing when the cold-ish weather starts to roll in. Keeps me alert, my center of gravity low. One mid-December, around 1990, I startled co-workers by doing a tuck-and-roll out of the elevator just as the doors closed, six stops before my floor, when I heard the first notes of what I thought was "The Little Drummer Boy" on the piped-in music. (Turns out it was "O Come Emmanuel." But there is no greatness without sacrifice.) It's all about training, discipline, and focus.

Alas, the 2009 competition came to an early and rather lackluster end for me this evening at about 6.45pm in a Starbucks near where I live. One moment I'm waiting on a friend to come back to the table; the next moment I'm benched until November 2010.

Still, it's not my worst season on record.

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