That was the year Santa found a lump in his sack.
It was the Year of the Atari 2600. Dusty and I smoked shake and played AD&D instead of doing Mr. Mack’s Algebra assignments, dreaming that our broke-dick parents would roll a 20 and magic an Atari our way for Christmas.
“Yeah…” we longed. “Ain’t gonna happen.”
But miracles happen and here was my dark miracle: dad was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had his balls cut off just before the Lions game. Cut out beer, too. That shit fell on him, at first, like a dark Minnesota winter—but then he snapped to and became some kind of comedian:
“You know…” he said, pretending to hold out his missing balls: “here’s the deal about things going all to fuck, Joey—you are no longer enslaved.” He parted and raised his hands: “You know your dreams are bullshit, but in the time it takes them to crumble around you, you are free.”
What kind of fuck-faced pantomime that was scared the shit out of me, but I came to love the broader comedy. I’d tagged my first buck that fall—and dad joked that we should serve our venison steaks for Christmas dinner: “You serve Rudolph, Joey—I’ll serve Blitzen.”
Laughter, just maybe, could shovel a driveway full of shit.
And then came the last, blinding blizzard of shit. It started with a late night thump—the thump. I ran, hoping to find that the signal had been given for a day of joy—but I ran past the Atari 2600, wrapped in just a red bow. This was not a thump, but a slap—and there he was, our Santa at his last: face white as snow, bathed all in red, circling the world at the speed of light.