It’s another Jolabokaflod Miracle!

When I was a teacher in the prison, a lot of my instructional time was spent making my students aware of common myths that are not actually true. For example, no, it is not legal (or usually physically possible) to drive sideways in Japan, despite what Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift made you believe. No, your blood is not blue until it hits the oxygen, despite what your fourth grade teacher told you…and your fifth and seventh grade teachers if you attended school in Alabama. No, Jamaica is not one big giant weed-patch, and no, it is not legal for foreigners to just head on down there and toke up; turns out there’s actually this really cool extortion plot where the police will drop a few seeds in your stash, since having seeds amounts to ‘intent to grow and distribute’ and is actually an executable offense if your parents can’t pay the ‘fine.’

So, after years of crushing inmates’ traffic hopes and ganja dreams, it’s time for my own comeuppance. I am a firm believer in the existence of a wonderful holiday celebrated every year for centuries, nay since the very written word was created. I know very little about this holiday except what a passing Facebook meme told me, and the meme was so honest and delightful that I dared not actually look it up for fear it might not be true.

Happy Jolabokaflod! I’ve written before about the magic of the holiday season, about the many Jolabokaflod carols and recipes and decorations, but in case you missed it, here’s the Clif Notes version: on December 24th, Imma hand you a book. You unwrap it, and no matter if you’ve read it before or hate that author or already have something you wanted to read, you get your ass in the bed with a cup of chocolate (it might just be hot chocolate, again, too scared to Google it in case this isn’t real) and you read that book.

Here’s where I fucking dare anyone to say, “I’ve been to Iceland, in fact, I was there for Christmas visiting my very Icelandic family, and we don’t do this. There was talk that it used to be a thing, but that was back before the Vikings came and burned our library huts. It’s pretty much made up and gets spread on Facebook every year for some strange reason.”

This is a holiday I was made for. Yes, I still love all the other holidays, but just like how everybody gets to be “one-thirty-eighth Irish” on St. Patrick’s Day and all the white people stampede the Mexican restaurants on Cinco de Mayo, I declare us all to be Icelandic on December 24th, just so all of you can buy me a book. You’re welcome.

If you have some downtime before the New Year and want to throw yourself a Jolabokaflod party, it’s not actually too late. It seems like you only need a book, some chocolate, and somewhere to sit your ass down. I can’t recommend The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore enough, or Hugh Howey’s Beacon 23 if you hate happiness and smiling. Go nuts with it.

Going Ham. Well, More Like Going Pork Chop.

I teach a very special group of young people, and as a result I have come to develop a very colorful street jargon. It’s hilarious (even to my students) when a middle-aged, gray-haired English-teacher-slash-author starts discussing the hundreds of varieties of marijuana and their potencies, can accurately list the necessary ingredients to go about producing crystal meth via the Shake and Bake method, or can tell you how many years you’re gonna get for a standard B&E if a firearm was involved.

I have one absolute favoritest street term, though, and it’s mostly because it’s a full-body thing. It involves making an angry face and jerking your arms in front of your torso very quickly while taking a step forward with one foot. You do all of those theatrics while simultaneously announcing, “I’m gonna go ham on you.” You can amend the statement to include “on yo ass” if the situation warrants.

Obviously, being gone ham on is not something that you want to happen to you, ever. I also have to admit that I’ve never actually witnessed a full-on hamming, although I do watch people threaten to ham someone on a daily basis.

Sadly, I’m insanely jealous that going on ham on someone is not a threat that I can use because it just reduces my pork victim to tears of laughter. Trust me, I’ve tried it. Many times. NO ONE was impressed with my angry threat, not even my twelve-year-old, and I even did the jerky arm stompy thing while saying it. Maybe my angry face needs work.

I’ve had to resort to the concept of going pork chop on people instead. It involves actually following through with the hamming, instead of just running your mouth about it, and the jerky posturing thing has now been replaced by a swift punch to the throat with the flat edge of your open hand, hence the “chop” part. Now, in response to hearing someone announce that he is about to “go ham,” I can reply with my threat to “pork chop” him. I had the opportunity to try this out this week, and I’m happy to report that there was no laughter. Lots and lots of confusion and a modicum of lack of air for a few minutes, but no laughter.