2005 Christmas Letter

What can I say? I started writing a Christmas letter way back in 1996. So this is the 10th anniversary—if you add 10 to 1996 your get 2006. But wait– it’s only 2005 as I’m writing this, so I’ve lost a year somewhere. I don’t remember losing a year, so I must have been a) watching an incredibly long late night television infomercial b) abducted and possibly probed in unnatural ways by aliens or c) recovering from a vicious Wampa attack on the ice planet Hoth by floating in a large tube of water like Luke Skywalker in “Empire Strikes Back”. While I can only speculate about my alleged “lost year,” I can, with a varying degree of accuracy, explain the highlights of the past twelve months.

Since moving into my townhouse, I would often compare my living room to my appendix—both are rather useless appendages that I could easily live without. I didn’t have much furniture for the room, and most of the time I spent there involved walking through it to get to my front door. Even though all my attempts to have my living room serve a useful purpose like, say, digesting tree bark, were a complete failure, the situation changed when I invited my friend Scott over for the first time. After giving him the grand tour, he looked at the sparsely decorated area and told me, “Omar, this would be the perfect spot for a projection television!” Once he said that I realized the room’s destiny. We went out that night to investigate my projection television needs.

The first place we went was a ritzy high-end electronics store. They had a plush room dedicated to projection televisions. In the back of the room a shelf held three different projectors. The salesman would switch one on and describe the virtues of each device with comments such as, “This one, which by the way, costs $15,000, displays flesh tones more accurately than the others.” Of course they all looked exactly the same to me, and I felt like I was at the optometrist when he asks, “Which is better, A or B?”

So despite my initial enthusiasm for this project (and the fact that I didn’t have $15,000 lying around) I waited a few weeks and bought a more reasonably priced projector on the Internet. When I got home and found it on my doorstep I immediately went to work setting it up. Installing a traditional television set usually just involved plugging it in and hooking up a few wires. My plan, however, was a bit more complex. I had to cut several gaping holes through various walls and drill through the floor to get everything in exactly the right place. As I plunged the drywall knife into the wall for the first time I could sense my mom’s disapproval despite the fact that she lives an hour away—especially when I said to myself, “I think I want a hole over here somewhere.” My mother appreciates qualities like caution, planning, and careful measuring– none of which I was exhibiting in great quantities at the moment. But, really, what’s the point of buying a house if you can’t cut holes all over the place?

So, after a few months of on-and-off construction, I finished my own little home theater system. The projector is tucked away in a cubby hole near the ceiling and all the other electronic gear is neatly stacked below. So now, finally, after being on this planet for more than 31 years, I can sit in my own house and watch DVDs and play PS2 games on a screen that is 10 1/2 feet across.

I made a promise to myself never to wear a tuxedo after my disastrous prom experience my junior year of high school. That was back in 1991, and I kept that promise until 2005 when my last roommate Scott asked me if I would be in his wedding. So there I was, torn between breaking my promise to myself and being a jerk to my friend. After realizing that the problem with that evening was more with the weird girl I invited and not the clothes I wore, I quickly accepted the offer. I’m so glad I did because I had a really good time.

I found out that breaking my tuxedo promise the second time around was a lot easier. A few weeks later another friend of mine, Brian, was getting married and the invitation said it was to be a black tie wedding. I looked through my closet and pulled out the three ties I own. One was dark red, another blue with stripes, and the last was orange with irregular colored blobs, which, as I understand, is used to disguise embarrassing soup stains. No matter how hard I stared at them, none of them were black. So I drove over to the tuxedo store where I rented the last one and decided what to wear for this wedding. Since my dimensions hadn’t noticeably changed in the past three weeks, I didn’t have to go through the fitting process. One thing I’ve come to realize about getting fitted for a tuxedo is this: No matter how young, cute, and perky the girl helping you is at the fitting station, getting your inseam measured is always an awkward experience.

So, after acquiring a tuxedo for the weekend, we drove up to Aspen, Colorado to see Brian and Janet get married. First of all, I found out that Aspen is really, really far away from where I live compared to, say, the local Taco Bell. But, we arrived at the hotel without incident the night before the wedding. The wedding itself was amazing, and really beyond description– at least with my ability to describe things. I lack the wedding accessory vocabulary to do the night justice. But it was really about Brian and Janet, and to the best of my knowledge, they don’t write Christmas letters. And it isn’t because they are Jewish, but rather because Brian spends all his free time on an Internet dradle gambling site. “I can’t stop now Janet, I’ve just gotten three gimels in a row!”

Now that I have such a cool place to watch DVDs (Hey, did I mention I put rope lighting up behind the floor trim to give it that soft movie-theater-esque glow?), I thought I would take some time to recognize my personal choice award for funniest new movie of the year. This year’s award goes to (make dramatic drum roll noise with your hands now to increase the tension) “Garden State.” I like to think of it as “The Big Chill” for the 21st century. Both movies centers around a group of people brought together by an unexpected death. They soon realize how empty their lives have become and try to compensate with large doses of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. OK, so “Garden State” replaced Marvin Gaye with The Shins, added ecstasy use to the pot smoking, and substituted Nattily Portman character for an impotent Vietnam veteran (to whom Jeff Goldbloom lost the girl) as the love interest. The main story line is so bizarre it feels like it just has to be true. Zach Braff wrote, directed, and starred in this movie. I hope this will be the first of many movies he contributes to the world. And if he, through some improbable series of events, is killed in an extreme moto-cross accident, he can at least take comfort in the fact that he got to do a love scene with Natalie Portman (and not Jeff Goldbloom).

Not that there is much rhyme or reason to this, but here are a few things I think would make the world a better place. First off, I was driving home from work the other day when I came to the conclusion that Weird Al Yankovic needs to remake Rupert Holmes “Escape” (The Pina Colada Song) but have it be about meeting people online. It would go something like this “If you like Internet Dating/Meeting new people online/Here’s a list of some websites/And true love you will find.” So if you are reading this Al, get cracking!

I’ve been a big fan of the comedy improvisation show, “Whose Line is it Anyway?” for several years now. It started off as a British show, and soon afterwards an American version was created with roughly the same format (although they turned down some of the sexual innuendo). Now don’t get me wrong, I love Ryan Styles and Collin Mockery, but I think its time to have another version of the show. This time, however, the cast will be almost entirely women. Janeane Garafolo could host! So if you are reading this Janeane, get right on it. You can be funny again, it is OK!

Well, that about wraps things up for another year. So, I’ll end this year’s letter with one of the best lines from Garden State. “Oh… guys? Don’t stay in here all day. I had to take the batteries out of the carbon monoxide detector; it was beeping all night.”