It's the season of schmaltzie Christmas movies (we watched a young Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th St last night), Christmas music, overeating on a daily basis at work, holiday happy hours, and a generally upbeat feeling of holiday cheer. Yet for years I've harbored a deep, dark, and shameful secret. A few years ago in a fit of blinding rage, I viciously and savagely stabbed Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to death.
No, it wasn't the real Rudolph but the scene of the crime was a spot where several of his cloven hoofed and antlered cousins have hung from a pole with their tongues protruding, en route to the freezer. This Rudolph was the oven mitt pictured above with the happy little guy printed on the front. As sappy as that is, it was not what set me off. It was the fact that this oven mitt had an embedded chip and every time you touched it or even jostled it, it would play 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' in monotone computer generated tones. Think 'do-do-de-do-do-do-do', every time you got near the thing. As regular readers of this blog know, one of my favorite things about the hunting camp is the lack of any indication of modern civilization. It is impossible to microwave a piece of pizza, flip on a light, flush the toilet, or catch a few minutes of the latest and most retarded reality show. We used to have two electronic devices at camp, the 1980's Montgomery Wards boom box for oldies listening, and the 4" screen battery powered TV that Podman received as a 'safe driving award' in one of his former jobs. We are down to one since the FCC decided to go digital. Its not a big loss however because camp rules prohibited the TV for anything other than Packer and World Series games. The quiet and natural background hum of the deer camp is very relaxing, a fact that made the incessant, mindless electronic rendition of Rudolph even more grating. Another contributing factor was that I'm only able to stand Christmas music from Black Friday through Christmas Day itself. That's plenty of musical cheer for me, but the cute Rudolph oven mitt played during snowshoe trips in February, cutting trees for deer food in March, kayaking in June, and early bow season in September. Like an outwardly calm postal worker sorting the mail, day after day after day, my hatred of this innocuous little oven mitt began to build and fester over the years until one day I snapped.
I can't even remember the exact scenario but I do remember it was during hunting season. I was cooking a fairly complex meal that I wanted to 'hit the post' and have everything done at the same time. A pork roast was on the grill, potatoes boiling for mashing, and I was chopping veggies to stir fry. As I grabbed Rudolph to latch on to a hot cast iron pan handle, the inevitable 'do-do-de-do-do-do-do' began to play. Something in my head just snapped. I threw Rudolph on the cutting board with the veggies, grabbed the 8" chef knife, and repeatedly, in a Hitchcockian, 'Psycho-like' fury, stabbed Rudolph's chirping little electronic heart until it went 'do-do-de......... Dead silence. The nightmare was over.
I do recall myself cursing as I stabbed Rudolph. My companions looked at me like I was nuts but I felt this sense of relief, like order had been restored to the Reefer Creek universe. Even though I received a raft of abuse, I don't recall anyone being sad that they could no longer hear the worlds worst rendition of 'Rudolph' 12 months out of the year. I must admit that I was impressed by the durability of the little chip in Rudolph though. Through hot summer days and -20F winter nights, this gadget just kept on playing for years. It could not survive an assault with a Wusthof chefs knife however.
It feels good to have that dark episode in deer camp history off my chest. I don't hate the song and in fact have the Gene Autry version on my iPod. I have noticed that since the assault no one had sent me one of those singing holiday or birthday cards. I've also noticed that the electronic noises at the deer camp these days are pretty much non existent. So, enjoy the holiday. I wish everyone a merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and a joyous Hannaramakwansas for the multi ethnic among us. Just don't give people 'the gift that keeps on giving' like our little Rudolph oven mitt. You never know what could happen.