A day may come when the courage of LDBCers fails, when we forsake our struggle, and allow The Boy to roam unfettered, spraying the landscape far and wide with Bieber-esque treacle. But it is not this day. This day—well, the 26 days of the 2014 LDBC—we fight. Fought.
You see, fellow LDBCers, while some of you are doing happy dances ’til your shoes turn red and others of us are rubbing vitamin E on our scars in the hopes that they’ll soon fade, we’re all victorious when the shadow of The Boy has faded. I mean, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t one of those mushy-spined things where everyone gets a trophy. Many of us have fallen, while only some (about a quarter, on average) get to drink from the cup. We salute the winners. The winners mourn the losers. And we all make fun of each other without mercy because we all have that edge.
What the hell am I talking about? I don’t know. I’m all hopped up on the itchiness of a fresh haircut and the clippings that have worked their way down my shirt plus the caffeine buzz from my second cup of Numi Breakfast Blend.
I guess what I’m trying to say, really, is Happy Holidays to all! Relax! Play some LDB all you want! He’s like the Bumble after he’s been relieved of his choppers. (Mrs. LDBC and I recommend this and this.)
And as a reminder, if you haven’t posted or sent in your LDBC-elfie of victory, please post to the Facebook wall or email them to the address you’ll see by passing the humanity test on our contact page. (We do want some happy ones in the mix, after all, but check out the new, wondrous shots o’ tragedy—with a few wins sprinkled in—in the gallery below).
As yet another reminder, if you haven’t filled out the official reporting form, please report in so that your loss or victory is included in the official stats and your name goes up on the yearly Wall. (Last year, a little more than 700 reported in; I’m betting we can beat that number handily this year since we added more than 800 of you.)
Once I’ve posted a few rounds of nagging and have gotten everything I think I’m going to get, I’ll post the year-end wrap-up and put this thing to bed for another season. (The tradition has been that it posts about a week or so into the New Year, and knowing my sloth-like ways, that’ll be a tradition I honor.)
But again, all: Happy Holidays. We laugh. We cry. We mock. But you guys really do make the season a hell of a lot more special for us.
But enough about me. For now. The story here is the continuing tragedy and poetry of you lot, as the English say (and I love that expression). Last year, when the first downfall snapshots began appearing and I made up the term LDBC-elfie (awkward, but I’m sticking with it), only a few trickled in here and there. Now it’s a thing. And it’s beautiful. From the above shot of Christine Moers and her nod to religious iconography in the baking-supplies aisle (her 11-year-old suggested they might as well make a cake since she died in front of them) to Joey X’s one-finger salute, our faithful community has responded with such enthusiasm that I’m not sure I can even put them all in one gallery lest the page take a few weeks to load. (We’ll see. It’s a nice problem to have.)
But before we dive into all the grief and misery, let us first bask in the holiday miracle that is Christine Jolley Hill’s baby boy, who, in true Harry Potter fashion, survived the dastardly Boy attack that slew his parents in their automobile while he napped in the back seat. A little hero, that kid. So charge your shields up with the cuteness of wee and scrappy slumber before the wave of sadness that’s about to wash over you.
Sleepy survivor: Christine Jolley Hill’s lucky little guy
And just in case you’re not sufficiently fortified, there’s also the following (albeit edited for brevity) exchange between LDBCers Mike Barish and the prophetic Joe Hobaica, who’s earned himself a double-mention in this post, both by his real name and his Echo moniker:
MB: Joe Hobaica says I’ve jinxed myself, but this is the deepest into the season I’ve ever made it (I’ve obviously never won). Having a newborn has kept me out of stores and limited my media consumption in general. Unless his mobile somehow learns LDB, I’m feeling confident!
JH: Way to go, Icarus! You’re invincible!
MB: And I’m out. Joe was right. I got cocky. WHO THE HELL BLASTS LDB ON THEIR CAR RADIO WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN?! I’m minding my own business on December fuckin’ 21, walking my dogs half-a-block from my house and hear the death rattle of my LDBC 2014 season from about a mile away. Bah humbug!
Submitted the form. Time to drink.
So there you have it. Careful with that cockiness, friends.
And with that, we watch the skies start to dim here on Day 24, secure in the knowledge that while this is the shortest and cruelest day of the year, tomorrow we’re over the hump and slowly heading for more daylight. Just two more days, those of you who are still hanging in there. (Remember that the cutoff is 12 am the morning of Christmas Eve day, your local time.)
Here’s your big ol’ honking helping of the latest LDBC-elfies, and we mourn every one of them.
Sometimes these things write themselves. His name’s Little Drummer Boy, so he’s balancing out the evil-incarnate nature of The Boy with some good old-fashioned cuteness. Even better, if you’re in the Chicago area, you can adopt him.
Faithful LDBCer Sammi Esterman, who brought this to my attention and who is unsurpassed in her love of all-things-puppy, informs me that should doggie LDB be lucky enough to be adopted, that linked-to page will disappear. However, you’re free to click on the image and get a gigantic version as much as you like.
We fired our guns, and the British kept a comin’ There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago …
Like Johnny Horton’s British, dear LDBCers, there aren’t as many of our compadres as there were a little over a week ago. It’s getting right nasty out there. (I myself dodged two bullets yesterday—once when a hunt for some half-and-half led me into shooting distance of a combo playing holiday music at work and then in our neighborhood Jewel. (I took extraordinary measures and donned earbuds in a long express-checkout line. Whatever gets you through the night, it’s all right.)
Another passel of LDBC-elfies to share, alas, with 160-plus reported passings on the official reporting form. A few highlights from those turning in snapshots:
My son and I were just mown down at his dental appointment. Had I only known what lay ahead, I’d have let his teeth rot right out of his head instead of leading him into this bloodbath.
And then there’s Kristin Fletcher’s creation of a new tradition: LDBC Shaming, in which one posts punishment pix of the person responsible for their downfall. (It’s not petty or vindictive. It’s justice!)
The good news, friends, is that we’re coming up on nearly 2,300 brave souls on the Facebook page. The other good news is that LDBCers Laura Scandura Rea and Anne Sussman have both survived frighteningly close retail calls.
Here’s Laura (also pictured above):
An emergency run to IKEA for drapery rods (don’t ask—he’s the one needing the hardware). We heard the now dreaded Christmas playlist as we hit the escalator! “Oh shit! We’re going to have to run the gauntlet! No meatballs at the finish line! Mooooooove!” And we did…. With each new track, a moment of relief as we knew we had 3-4 minutes more of safety. Would our luck hold? He snagged his hardware (not a euphemism) and we sprinted through the furniture self-help warehouse to the registers just as a medley began on the playlist…. “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland”….. And we were out! We survived another day… Stay strong and shop fast, friends!
And here’s Anne:
I danced with the devil tonight.
After reading of our comrade Susan [that would be official First Fallen Susan Campbell Beachy—Ed.], who was taken from us far too soon at a Michaels with no apostrophe, I was the poster girl for hubris as I strolled into a Harmon Face Values—which shares a foyer with the Michaels on 6th Ave., and very likely a demon sound system. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was the first hint. Then “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Holy hell. I just needed some generic brand apricot scrub. But where was it? “Holly Jolly Christmas” was up next. I felt weak. My palms were sweaty. Jesus Christ, is this what’s going to take me out? Some cut-rate blemish control?
And then, sweet Jesus, I found it. I grabbed two. Hurry, hurry, hurry, I muttered as I waited in what seemed like an interminable line. “White [Fucking] Christmas.” I had to get out. Finally, it was my turn at the register. I thrust the Bed Bath & Beyond gift card at the cashier and nervously tapped my fingers. Hurry.
And then I was out. I had made it. I was lucky. But how long will my luck last? There was a time, before the war, that I would have described Susan as lucky.
Stay alert, soldiers.
Of course, I led with the good news because I’m a hopelessly sunny fellow, as you’ve surely realized by now. But the bad news is that nearly 90 of us are down. (At least, nearly 90 have been dutiful despite their tragedy and reported in via the official form.)
And many have joined Sarah Jenkins, the first to send in an LDBC-elfie this year, in documenting their downfalls. Now, I sincerely hope there are no more photos to be posted because I sincerely hope the rest of us all make it. But I know that cannot happen so long as The Boy hunts. So if and when you take a fall, feel free to share it on the Facebook wall or email it via our contact page.
For Susan! (Remember the recently invented rule: each year, the First Fallen is honored by having his or her name inserted into our war cry. Until we get tired of it or forget that’s what we’re supposed to do, that is. Those things happen a lot.)
Not Marie, though. (Credit: Susan Campbell Beachy)
The wish begins with such a beautiful sentiment, as wishes often do. The author is well-nigh selfless with paper, toner, and whatever labor was required to affix the holiday message to one of the subway-entrance signs for New York’s Times Square station. Suzi, Lou Lou, and Laura should have a Merry Christmas.
Not Marie, though.
There’s even an exclamation point to mark that dark desire with vitriolic enthusiasm.
Poor Marie, as LDBCer Susan Campbell Beachy, who took that photo once and then went back a second time to make sure she had the best shot she could get, said.
In this thing of ours, this mad dash toward daylight with the beat of the bullying Boy badgering us from behind, we are either survivors, or we are Marie. And with the nearly 700 of you dear, dear people who reported in, it looks like 75 percent of us fell in the latter camp this year. (I take it to be a representative sample and extrapolate because, hey—what do you want from me?)
Hundreds of Maries with tragic tales to tell. And a quarter of us with tired smiles of victory.
We did have our high points, to be sure. I won for the first time in four years, while Mrs. LDBC racked up her third-straight “W.” (She says she’s telling the truth. And I, for one, believe her.) We picked up a link from the CBS News site and appeared on the weekend edition of Good Day Sacramento not once, not twice, but three times. (The third one wasn’t posted. I think I may have had something in my teeth.)
And we grew from a high of 1,180 last year to a high of 1,830 on the Facebook page this year. To which I lift a glass of Pappy (yes, I was lucky enough to stumble onto some before it became all the rage), salute you with a hearty “huzzah!” and give to you these results. As always, if you see any mistakes, please comment or send feedback to let us know. And if you don’t see your name here on The Wall, it’s not too late to fill out the form. I won’t change the stats (I’m not that ambitious), but I’ll be happy to add you.
As I say every year, LDBCers, beneath this wiseass facade lurks a wiseass interior with coursing blood pumped by a wiseass heart. But deep within the core, I’m a sentimental fool. And the fact that so many of you show up and take this ridiculous-though-sacred game into your lives, don headphones, and terrorize your children just because I created a Facebook page and a blog never fails to make our holiday.
We mean that sincerely, me and the missus, and we hope you keep coming back and bringing friends and loved ones to share in the joy, stress, and terror. We’ll see you in November.
Hannah Mellicker Bradford’s sister at the moment of her demise
LDBCer Tales from the Trenches
Emily Artruc – L
My first year participating in LDBC, dashed by my own mother.
Susan Beachy – L
Deb Campbell – L
Taken down while waiting for my annual mammogram. ‘Cause I was already having such a great day.
Sue Carkner – L
Last Christmas, my brother, developmentally delayed and very ill, found out that I did not have copies of many of the Christmas songs he loved. He insisted—insisted—on giving me copies of his entire collection. Hundreds of songs, many of them horrible. We laughed for hours, as he kept scrolling through his music files on the computer and finding more. He’d triumphantly announce each new addition to my collection. The more I complained, the more he was spurred on to find every last sentimental piece of schmaltz lurking in the dusty corners of his collection.
A few months later, he died, and this is our first Christmas without him. Every song I complained about when he added it to the collection is my new favourite, because it reminds me of him. He didn’t have much, but he had his music, and he just couldn’t resist sharing it with me.
It took less than 24 hours for my brother’s Christmas mix to slay me with the Johnny Cash version of “The Little Drummer Boy.” He would have laughed himself stupid to see my reaction to being taken out of the LDB Challenge in my own home. I can hear his laughter in my head right now. I lost the Challenge, but it was totally worth it.
David Christian – L
A two year streak ended by NPR! I want my pledge money back.
Nora Debenedetto – L
Pa rum pum pum fail.
Molly H – L
I yelled, “Crap!” in a room of 150 under-10s.
Holly Melton – L
I heard it while going through a box of vintage postcards, one of my favorite pastimes. I was gazing at a colorized postcard from the early 1900s. On the front was a girl in a sailor dress in front of a huge pink hydrangea bush. On the back someone had hand-written one sentence: “Isn’t this great?” No, unknown now-dead person. No, it isn’t. I just heard “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Evelyn Peck (Mother LDBC) – L
My son forced me to do this even though I was not registered in this contest!!!!!!!
Linda Renzulli – L
Here I was being an angel of mercy, flying from Idaho to San Francisco to babysit my grandchildren because my son-in-law has just had his fifth heart attack in a year. Here comes Grandma to the rescue, and I get taken out by that rotten little bastard. Fuck it—I need a drink.
Deb Roby – L
From that point forward, the night was cursed. The sprinkles turned to hard rain as I walk to my car. My team was embarrassed in its basketball game. I had both indigestion and insomnia.
Laura Sigman – L
I got taken out while buying meatballs. I am a vegetarian. I got what I deserved.
Eileen Siple – L
I’ve been encouraging my daughter to find a job—and then, on the way to a job interview, the song comes on the radio. That’s what I get for encouraging my daughter to grow up and become a productive member of society.
Julia Skochko – L
Even eggnog rice pudding and zesty Cuban flatbread taste like ashes in one’s mouth after such a horror. [Full version here.]
Jack Taylor – L
I almost drove into a freeway abutment. That song is as dangerous to drivers as texting.
George Timms – L
Everything is fucking terrible and Christmas is ruined.
Pieter Van Noordennen – L
Like so many New York gubernatorial candidates, I, too, was a victim of social media.