Things I Don’t Understand, Pt. 6

21 11 2008
To celebrate the holiday spirit, here’s some of my least-understood holiday traditions

1. Pie at Thanksgiving
I’m probably gonna take flak for this one, but hear me out. On Thanksgiving day, we eat a variety of foods. Turkey, corn, beans, cranberries, pumpkin, apples, and the list goes on. We eat these foods because they’re traditional. They’re traditional because that’s what they ate at the first Thanksgiving. They ate them at the first Thanksgiving because that’s what they had growing naturally in America at the time. But not pie. Pie crust is made with flour. Native Americans weren’t known for their ample supplies of flour. Corn, yes, but no one eats pumpkin pie with a corn crust. It’s delicious, and it’s traditional, but if you think about, it just doesn’t make sense.

2. Fruitcake
While I’m ragging on festive foods, I’ll take a shot at fruitcake. Everyone hates it. Even people who like it can’t stomach a whole thing. People buy them as gag gifts sometimes, but have you ever seen someone laugh when they open a present and it contains a fruitcake? It’s the thought that counts, but if the gift is fruitcake, the thought is irrelevant. There is no excuse for fruitcake.

3. Mistletoe
I feel no need to explain this, but I will anyways. Mistletoe is a hemi-parasitic, poisonous plant which people enjoy hanging in doorways and making out under. It’s an old tradition and it makes no sense. The only kiss-ish thing about mistletoe might be the hemi-parasitic thing (it’s a parasite that is fully capable of surviving on its own if it wants), and that really only applies to some high school couples and newlyweds (and I’m not sure the “hemi” applies to those high school couples). So essentially, it involves mimicking a plant which you walk under. I think next year I’ll hang a Venus Flytrap over my door and anyone who walks under it has to eat a bug. It’s festive!

4. Yule Logs
Also known by its other name, the “Great Ashen Faggot”, it’s a log. That you burn. On Christmas. Why this is more special than any other log you might burn on Christmas remains a mystery. It supposedly has something to do with the Norse god Thor, but Thor does lightning. And comic books. Not logs. So this tradition doesn’t quite seem to fit…

And so I’m not run out of town for insulting holidays, here’s some of the usual stuff.

5. Meatloaf
Nearly all American kids are subjected to this dish at some point during their childhood. If you’re one of the few who are unfamiliar with it, it’s composed of ground beef, breadcrumbs, seasonings, and sometimes vegetables or cheese, mushed together into a pulpy mixture and baked into a loaf, then slathered in ketchup (or catsup, if you prefer). So essentially, it’s a hamburger that someone beat the crap out of and then smooshed into a pan to give it the loaf shape. What doesn’t make sense is why someone would be sitting there, enjoying a delicious hamburger, and thinking to themself, “You know, this would be so much better if it was mushy, and baked, and coated in an unnecessary amount of ketchup, and if I needed a fork to eat it”

6. Mountain Dew Spin-Off Nomenclature
Mountain Dew’s name is a bit of a stretch as is, as it’s not anything like actual dew and is based out of New York, which is definitely not a mountain. Putting that aside, the spin-off flavors all have stupid names. For example:
Code Red (Cherry MD) – This one makes the most sense, since it’s red-colored and all. I’ll give them this one.
Live Wire (Orange MD) – This is where the stupidity begins. Live wire? Is this a subtle way of saying I’ll be “shocked” by how good it is? That drinking it will be an “electrifying” experience? That the high levels of caffeine will leave me feeling “wired”, with a “buzz” that will keep me awake?
Pitch Black (Grape MD) – It’s not even black-colored. It’s purple.
Supernova (Strawberry Melon MD) – A supernova is a star that is exploding. Ergo, when I drink something called “supernova”, I fully expect my lower jaw to melt and drip off my face into a tooth-filled puddle on the floor. Instead, it’s served chilled over ice. “Absolute zero” would apply here. That took me two seconds, and I did it for free. Meanwhile, a team of highly paid marketing experts got together for several months, and the best name they could come up with was “supernova”. Nice work, guys. Bonus checks all around.
Voltage (Raspberry Citrus MD) – See Live Wire above
Revolution (Wild Berry MD) – This name brings up images of Pancho Villa, Che Guevara, and V for Vendetta. The one thing these dudes had in common: Mustaches. Revolution would thus be a good name for the potion from Willy Wonka that makes you grow large amounts of facial hair. For a sugar-laced drink marketed towards “x-treme” clean-shaven teenagers, not so much.

7. Nerf Guns
When you shoot someone with a real gun, they bleed and die. When you shoot someone with a Nerf gun, everyone laughs and has a good time. When you pistol whip someone with a real gun, they bleed and die. When you pistol whip someone with a Nerf gun, everyone laughs and has a good time. No, wait. They bleed and die. It seems like we’re sending mixed messages to the kids here. Why aren’t the butt ends of Nerf pistols made of foam or something? You can’t imply that a Nerf gun is a safe alternative to a real gun when using it like a real gun can sometimes still kill someone. That’s like saying a dog is completely housebroken, but if he drinks the right liquids, he will still pee all over your duvet.

8. Bottled Iced Tea
Tea is traditionally served hot. For summer weather or those who don’t like hot drinks, there’s iced tea. And for those who are on the go, there’s “bottled iced tea”. Which is never true, because for it to be bottled iced tea, there would have to be ice cubes in the bottle. And the cubes would melt during shipping. So it can’t be both bottled and iced. It can be bottled cold tea, but that sounds stupid.

9. Bonsai
Bonsai is the Asian art of planting a tree in a really small pot and then trimming it as it grows, so that you wind up getting a really small tree. It looks really cool, but it’s a weird process. It’s sort of like Chinese foot binding, but with the whole tree, not just the roots. It’s more like dressing a baby in baby clothes, but then forcing it to wear baby clothes for the rest of its life, while you use sandpaper to file down whatever grows too big for the tiny singlet.

That’s all I got for now.

-dave