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A Winter Wonder

Why is every one-hit wonder who appears on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float to promote a single that's already heavily rotated on Top 40 lamely called a "singing sensation"?

What's with America's obsession with dog shows?

Who is Sylar and where did he come from?

These were just a few questions that struck me while basting my 11-pound turkey on Thankgiving morning. Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera apparently drained their pool of adjectives to describe every singer who appeared in the rain-soaked holiday fest. NBC apparently loves showcasing purebreds and their proud owners. And I apparently believe that saving the cheerleader will indeed save the world (Go Peter Petrelli!).

The holiday was spent at my apartment, candying yams, preheating the oven, dusting the furniture, slowly turning into my mother. Dinner for five started around four, and three more guests showed up for dessert later in the evening. Three pies and one round of Trivial Pursuit later, the stuff-a-thon ended.

"It's Friday. And it's black."

The day after...The scene: South Coast Plaza, the largest mall in Southern California. The time: 1pm.

I was pleased to discover that my parking karma was still kickin' when Swaga and I found a space for my Focus within five minutes of entering the massive ocean of cars that was the South Coast parking lot.

Walking shoes laced up, we rendezvoused with Karim and dived into the retail mess. We hit the heavyweights first - Bloomie's, Saks, Coach - and realized our budgets could hardly skim off the prices of a scarf, let alone a leather keychain. My tolerance for the heavy foot traffic and runaway strollers wore thin when I nearly collided with an Asian woman who thought it would be wise to suddenly stop in the middle of a busy pathway and scan the crowd for her family...Or when two women blocked the escalator trying to decide, as if the fate of the world rested on their shoulders, whether they should go up or down...Or when a little boy decided to break free from his mother's peripheral vision and climb a store security scanner as if he were in a McDonald's Playspace.

The only damage brought to my wallet that day was a mere ten dollars carved out for three bottles of anti-bacterial hand soap from Bath & Body Works.

As the holidays draw near I find myself longing for some East Coast winter chills. However, with the way L.A. has been freezing up lately, it looks like I'll have to start bundling up earlier than expected. Angelenos are starting to turn blue, and it's not because of the ridiculous wait for the newly renovated Griffith Park Observatory.

When I do make it back to see the fam I'll enjoy the pre-Christmas frenzy that usually involves forcing my mother to listen to the mix CDs I burned for her and calling my father to let him know we'll be bringing pizza home for dinner - all while sitting in a frigid 2001 Daewoo Leganza that smells of Pepp-O-Mint Lifesavers and is parked in the packed lot of a Bronx or White Plains Target, where we will rush to purchase last-minute items for the cousins, nieces, and nephews. Then it's off to said pizza pick-up and home where we'll stay up 'til the wee hours - not to catch a glimpse of that red-suit-wearing fat man - but to watch DVDs of films my parents neglected to see at the megaplexes this year.

During this holiday visit I will also attempt to get in touch with those peers I haven't seen since the days when Britney wore underwear, Donald Rumsfeld was credible, and MySpace was a just glint in Tom's eye.

I recently heard through the IM grapevine that a high school friend of mine, now an assistant VP at a powerful corporation where his dad is an investor, recently got married to his Ivy League sweetheart, the daughter of a doctor from Long Island. The ceremony took place in Westchester. The news made the pages of The New York Times. The annoucement reeked of yuppie supercouple. At first I didn't know what to make of the news because A) I haven't given much thought to this high school acquaintance in quite some time and B) I have removed myself so far from those days and those individuals that I can't fathom what their lives must be like in 2006 compared to 1996.

But good for them. Everyone deserves their own brand of happiness.

I know several guys from my high school (don't forget: the all-boys prep factory) who have continued the jacket-and-tie tradition and gone off to work in the hallways of corporate institutions with words like Morgan, Ernst, and Associates in their names. While they fraternize among the Wall Street players and Brooks Brothers regulars I find myself frolicking with players of the sweatshirt-and-sandals kind. They wear their blazers with matching cufflinks for the office. I match mine with a pair of meticulously scuffed jeans. They sip wine at stiff black-tie fundraisers. I enjoy a vodka Red Bull and the beats of a celebrity DJ at a function celebrating the DVD release of a starlet's modest box-office hit.

It makes me wonder what I'll face when I RSVP to my 10-year reunion in a mere 16 months from now. The expected transformations have become somewhat cliched now - the jocks bloat and bald, the nerds bloom into babe magnets, and the rest fall somewhere in between modest success and boring contentment. I will go with an open mind, expect the unexpected, and of course, catch up with my posse and talk shit about others behind their backs.

Pass me an eggnog latte.

My Christmas wishlist is ready and available. Any takers?

Happy Non-Denominational Holiday,

**COMING VERY SOON: The blog that will save your life - my Year-In-Review.


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