Maxed Out 

Christmas cheer

By G.D. Maxwell

Every so often, out of the blue, I’ll be struck with a sense of total foreignness, a feeling the world’s been turned upside down, black is white, right is wrong – or more likely left – things aren’t quite normal.

I may have first noticed that feeling when I was writing a word I’d written hundreds of times and for some reason, maybe planet alignment, it just didn’t look right. The word itself isn’t important and frankly I don’t remember what it was but I do remember looking at it for what seemed like a long time, looking at it as though I’d never seen it before, wasn’t sure it was spelled right, wasn’t totally convinced it was even a word and finally reaching for a dictionary to convince myself it existed and set my world firmly back in the Milky Way.

That feeling of otherworldliness comes over me sometimes skiing. It usually strikes on some long, winding cruiser of a run, a run where even a two-leftfooted skier like myself can forget about what he’s doing and just let gravity work its magic trick. I may be marveling at the scenery around me, feeling the bite of stinging breeze hitting my face, contemplating my total insignificance in a vast monochromatic landscape that could swallow me in a second. Suddenly, the absurdity of what I’m doing hits at a level of consciousness rarely glimpsed. Sliding quickly over mountainous ground on long skinny sticks! How totally bizarre and alien it all seems.

I wonder if those incidents are the manifestation of brain cells dying, memories being flushed, patterns scrambling, the revenge of misspent youth.

I was nearly brought to my knees recently when a similar wave of foreignness washed over me like a tsunami of otherworldliness, a Serlingesque dimensional warp to another time and place. I was headed to the village, a little Christmas shopping at McCoo’s, when I was struck dumb by the sight before my eyes. I still don’t know what it is but I know it definitely doesn’t belong where it’s landed.

Was it Saturn rising? A comically B-movie spaceship crash landing into Armchair Books and Gone bakery? Was it hung right or did someone confuse its axes? Is it supposed to be a welcoming beacon or a bright warning for all to see and fear: Enter and be abducted, Earthlings?

Won’t somebody please tell me what those alien lights at the entrance to the village are supposed to be? Please.

Assuming they’re only supposed to be festive and seasonal – as opposed to some mutant art in public places erector set – they’re as good a segue as any into my contribution for helping you cope with the hustle and bustle of the season. Are you a grinch or are you, in fact, Santa hisself when it comes to Christmas? Answer these questions to find out. As with all self-administered quizzes, honesty is optional.


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