I can never remember what happens after the eighth day in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
This isn’t an alcohol thing, it’s the inability to recall just how many ladies were dancing, pipers were piping or lords were lepping (as tradition has it in my country). For some reason I’m fine up to “eight maids a-milking” and then my mind just loses control. It may be the sheer volume of conspicuous waste: After all, what kind of true love saddles his paramour with responsibility for seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying and all the rest of it? Even the five gold rings will have to be sold to provide for the upkeep of four colley birds (not “calling” as you might think), three french hens, two turtle doves and the partridge — by the time Twelfth Night rolls round, a dozen partridges and goodness knows how many maids, presumably with the cows in tow — will all need somewhere to stay.
It was for solid practical reasons like these that my sister wrote her own version, which very sensibly ended with “a party by a pear tree.” I have my own Christmas list, not unlike the unreasonable demands in the song “Santa Baby,” which I intend to match to the principle, if not the exact tune, of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Ergo:
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. (That’s fine as it stands. “My true love gave to me” — I’m happy with that).
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me the right to be officially known by all the aliases I’ve gotten from various name conversion Web sites. (As well as responding to Nick, Nicko, Nicky, Nikos, Nikolai and Lassie, I would also be able to request documents or checks made out to Wack Wack, Sancho Proudfoot, Finwe Culnamo, Orson Lustley and Buttercup Applenose.)
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me a boxed set of “The Matrix” in which Neo takes the blue pill (thereby saving us all a lot of time and trouble).
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me the $30 I’m owed by scene for expenses incurred during research for the pub crawl article. (Surely you don’t think I did that for my own amusement, Steve Abramowitz?)
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me some form of quality control on Christmas music. (An hour in Starbucks makes one aware that there are no depths to which “Jingle Bell Rock” cannot sink).
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me a computer and a telephone. (I don’t want, or even need, a computer or a telephone, but I’m slightly fed up with people treating me like some sort of Luddite nutcase. I was in Atticus the other day, highlighting some notes I’d made, and a passing woman nodded to her husband and said, “Did all that by hand. No computer there,” as if I were an exhibit at a Long-Lost Crafts Fair.)
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me a non-sexy name. (As was pointed out to me recently, the reason people are not throwing themselves at me is because they know I have a sexy name and they’re scared — see my article of 8 October).
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me a strict interpretation of the safety instructions on the weight machines at Payne Whitney. (The Class of ’08, being teenagers, are unable to use them without constant adult supervision).
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me the name of a good mental hygienist. (Particularly for whoever’s been postering the Public Forum board in CCL recently.)
On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me anti-wrinkle cream. (So that nobody ever again says to me, “You’re over 25. Do you find that your metabolism has slowed down?”)
On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me rhythm and music. (Who could ask for anything more?)
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me the will to make and keep some New Year’s resolutions. (Come 2005, I am going to reference every quotation instead of paraphrasing it and passing it off as my own. I am not going to quote out of context to make a point. I am not going to spend time in class writing lyrics. I am not going to daydream about people in my European Politics seminar.)
Merry Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or whatever your personal religious affiliation — and a very Happy New Year.
Buttercup Applenose is the slowing metabolism of Britain in David Cameron’s European Politics class.