By Jeff Morris
Manotick Messenger/Richmond Hub
I sit there. I stare at it. I am going to have a bite.
Why am I doing this?
Why do I think, every year, that it will be different?
Some things just remain constant every year, no matter how much you want them to change.
Lucy will yank the ball away from Charlie Brown when he goes to kick it.
We will complain about the winter weather, somehow forgetting that we live in Eastern Ontario.
The government will threaten education cuts and the teachers will threaten to strike.
The Leafs won’t win the Stanley Cup – not that that’s a bad thing…
And I will inevitably try Christmas fruitcake and think that I will like it.
That is a bad thing.
I was thinking of ways to wrap prose around how I feel about our ritual of exchanging and eating Christmas fruitcake. I love to use metaphors and be descriptive. For this one, though, I think it should be simple and straight to the point.
Christmas fruitcake sucks.
It’s hideously revolting.
If there is a such a thing as “comfort food”, then Christmas fruitcake is “take a staple gun and fill it with nails and start puncturing your colon and your spleen with it food”.
Yet, I go back to it, like a mosquito at dusk wondering what the big attractive purple light is as he hovers around and approaches your bug zapper.
Every year, without fail, one ends up at our office as our favourite local service club sells them as a fundraiser. I think of when Fred and Barney were in the Water Buffaloes and they used to paddle the bottoms of the new members in their initiation. Why not make them eat fruitcake instead. Or, hit them with it, then make them eat it.
So we got our fruitcake and lugged it over to our counter. We carried it manually, even though I had luggage wheels in the trunk of my car in case we needed them. It was round with a texture of one of the rocks in front of the Caivan model home on Perth. It took the spot on the counter where the Girl Guide Cookies were just a few months earlier. Ah Girl Guide Cookies and their sweetly baked goodness wrapping tentacles of love around your tongue and injecting it with bliss while angels float over your head playing the harp.
But this, this, THIS thing on the counter. This rock from the curling club soaked in rum with icing slathered on it pretending to pass as something edible.
There were no angels playing any harps. Maybe a hairy little troll with Roseanne Barr’s head playing the accordion. But no harp.
I looked at it again, and I heard Linus’ voice.
“This isn’t such a bad Christmas tree, Charlie Brown. It just needs some love.”
Can this Christmas fruitcake really be that bad? Can these unnatural red and yellow and green things that look like cherries that were stored in formaldehyde and then laced with chemicalicious colour additive number 27A really be that wretched? And I’m sure there are little pieces of walnut in there with all the twigs and tree branches and chunks of pinecone in the middle of the cake.
At that point, the voices in my head started bickering again. The angel appeared on one shoulder, the devil on the other. “Eat it,” the devil said. “It’s cake. How can it be bad? Of course it’s good, or everyone wouldn’t eat it at Christmas.”
Then the angel spoke up. “Don’t do it. Remember last year? After the third bite you ran into the bathroom and Olson twinned it into the toilet.”
The devil piped up. “Dude,” he started. He always wins me over when he calls me Dude.
“Dude, you have a fridge full of Coke with Stevia to wash it down.”
I looked at the angel. Devil’s right. I always listen to Devil.
I cut a piece. I looked at it. My tongue quivered like a Death Row convict sitting in the electric chair as they were about to pull the switch.
I bit into it. Ugh. Another bite. Ughh. Quick.
Shove it in your mouth and end it. I dove across the room for my stash of Coke with Stevia. I didn’t just drink a can of it. I freebased it.
I didn’t like it. It was bad. I won’t take the Lord’s name in vein near Christmas, so, like, Gordon Tapdancing Ramsay it was putrid. At this point, I pointed my anger at our culture.
Who decided eating arse cake is a tradition anyway? Is it a British thing? Like, as if we should take food tips from them. “Mmm, this boiled stomach lining with salt is delicious. Pass me a luke warm beer…”
I’m putting a stickie note on the December page for my 2020 calendar now that says “Do Not Eat the Christmas Cake!!!” Angel told me to put it there, but somehow, I just know Devil will win the argument again next year.
As for now, as you are reading this, I am scrubbing the inside of my mouth with sandpaper and Purrell hand sanitizer.
I wonder if anyone will bring us Mince Meat this year.
It can’t be that bad… It’s meat… Kind of. And everyone eats it at Christmas…
Shut up Devil.
Jeff Morris is a two-time winner of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association Energizer Canada Humour Columnist of the Year and a former winner of the Sun Media Columnist of the Year Awards. You can read his From the Other Side column in every issue of the Manotick Messenger and Barrhaven Independent.