You Can't Spell "Santa" Without "Satan."

Every year at around this time, I have a recurring nightmare. I’m at a party at my family’s old ranch house, and all of my friends and relatives are there. Everyone keeps coming up to me and giving me gifts and cards and smiling and hugging me, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s going on. I know I’ve forgotten something - I can feel it - but I don’t know what it is.

Then it hits me. It’s Christmas day, and I’ve completely spaced on the entire holiday. I mean, I’ve done NOTHING - I haven’t bought a tree, put up lights, gone gift shopping, made food, drank eggnog, mailed cards, NOTHING.

My mind races. What should I do? I rummage through a nearby desk, hoping to find something I can MacGyver into several dozen wrapped and tagged gifts in less than ten minutes, but all I come up with are rubber bands and a box of thumb tacks and one of those weird plastic water bottles with the sponge on top that people used to use to seal up envelopes. Back when you used to have to lick the flaps of envelopes to seal them. Back when we used to send mail through a place called the post office in a thing called an envelope. (We used to write on these envelopes in something called “cursive” or “script” writing. But that’s another blog post…)

So I stand there, panicked, without so much as a flask of spirits or basket of food or even the most modest of cards. I am entirely empty-handed.

It’s horrible.

The fact that I’m in my underwear hardly even matters.

The point is, Christmas confounds me. For most people, it’s celebrating some guy’s birthday by doing things that this guy would HATE. Frenzied shopping that sometimes erupts into violence? Gorging on food and wine until we’re sick? Bickering over saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas?” You must be fucking kidding me.

For those of you who truly believe that there’s a “war” on Christmas, you should ask yourself which side of that “war” Jesus would be on. The fact is, Jesus would want nothing, and I mean NOTHING to do with this holiday the way we celebrate it - let alone to have everyone claim that we’re all celebrating the day of his birth.

Which it isn’t, by the way. The date and time of Jesus’ birth isn’t recorded in the Bible, but most scholars agree that Jesus was NOT, in fact, born in December - because of the position of the Star of Bethlehem, Jesus was probably born sometime in the spring.

Christians of olden times made the decision to celebrate Jesus’ birth on the winter solstice because there were already Roman and Pagan traditions in place for celebrating the shortest day and longest night of the year. The idea was that the fledgling Christian religion could gain some cred and recognition by piggybacking onto these more popular religious celebrations that had been going on for centuries.

In this way, Christianity gained a foothold, and soon became the more dominant religion. Then, once in power, Christians went about exterminating those who refused to celebrate Christmas properly. By which I mean, their way. Which Jesus would have loved. Clearly.

And as best I can tell, celebrating Christmas “properly” means showering adoration on a guy who preached constantly about helping the poor, living simply, and peace - while at the same time indulging in behavior that’s not all that Jesus-y.

So the way I look at it, there’s only one solution.

In order to be respectful of Jesus, I’m going to have to insist that we all take the “Christ” out of “Christmas.”

Jesus won’t care, I promise. He’s a modest guy. He wouldn’t want people making a fuss over his birthday in the first place. Plus, as I mentioned, it’s not his actual birthday, and frankly he’d probably be pretty pissed off over the violent and intolerant circumstances that led to us celebrating on this particular day to begin with.

And that’s not even to mention the WAY we celebrate “his” day. Seriously. If you, like me, intend to spend this holiday season drinking, carousing, gift-giving, gift-getting, decorating a tree, dancing around a fire, and eating yourself silly, then you CANNOT in good conscience call what you’re doing “Christmas.”

It’s so unfair to Jesus. It really, really is.

From now on, I propose we remove the “Christ” reference entirely and instead celebrate “*$&%@!Mas.” It’s perfect. Everyone can enjoy the darkest and longest nights of the year by indulging in all kinds of naughty, hyper-indulgent behavior. You know, over-spending, over-eating, over-committing, over-indulging, and going overboard in general.

By which I mean to say, the holiday stays exactly the same as it is now except for the fact that we don’t drag poor Jesus into it anymore.

Maybe we can have a celebration for him some other time of the year that involves penance and self-reflection and humility and homage to the poor...

I suggest August. It’s relatively holiday-free.

I wish you all a splendid *$&%@!Mas.

Love and Peace.

Merry Everything.



Hello and welcome to Cocktalk.

Today’s Cocktalk topic:

Euphemisms for “penis.”

I decided to write about this topic at around the same time I decided to write a sonnet to the penis.

No. Wait.

Maybe I should back up.

I wrote a novel a while back, which contains sex scenes. Plural. Because delicately portraying the vulnerability of humans during the act of lovemaking makes the characters relatable.

But mostly because sex sells.

When you write a sex scene, you’re faced with a couple of interesting dilemmas. One is trying not to giggle like a twelve-year-old boy as you write the sex scene. Because that comes through in the end product, believe me. This problem can be resolved with copious amounts of red wine, and by describing things as simply and directly as possible. I say, don’t try to get fancy with it, and if you don’t trust me, trust someone who actually makes a living writing sex scenes. (Note to self: Figure out way to make a living writing sex scenes.)

I actually think it’s a pretty funny writing exercise to write up intentionally bad sex scenes. It’s a great lesson because it makes you laugh, and your laughter cues you to what NOT to do when describing sex. If you read it and laugh, cut it or rewrite it. Seriously. Because if it makes you laugh, it’s going to make someone else apoplectic. Or it’ll make them cringe, which is even worse.

Although I have to admit something here. One of the literary prizes I desperately want to win is the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award. I have this secret desire to show up in London in person to accept the award. I imagine them announcing me as the winner. I’d walk up to the stage to accept, my sky-high pumps clicking sharply through the crowded, silent, disapproving hall. When I reached the podium, I’d adjust my slightly-too-short pencil skirt, and smooth the frill on the front of my blouse. Then I’d unbutton the top button, pull my hair out of its ponytail, take off my glasses and say, “I’m going to read out loud the sex scene in question. By the time I’m finished, if most of the men in this room DO NOT have a raging boner, then I’ll graciously accept your award and be on my way. If, however, most of the men in this room DO have a raging boner, I fully expect you to reconsider bestowing upon me this honor.”

Which leads to the second problem. What to call stuff in sex scenes. You know. Stuff. Actions. Methods. Logistics. Lady parts. Man junk. Stuff. Jeese. See? Even in the privacy of my own blog it’s awkward.

For me, the biggest problem is what to call the penis. Because you can’t call it a penis. I mean, come on. “She wanted nothing more than to feel his hard penis…” Are you laughing? You remember the rule about laughing and editing, right?

You could call it a dick, but that presents problems, too, because “dick” also has comic overtones - not to mention tons of negative connotations outside of the sexual ones - dickwad, dickhole, dickweed, etc.

I was so perplexed over what to call the trouser mouse, I actually did research on how other authors approached what to call the penis, how men felt about their own penises, and penis portrayals in art and literature throughout history. I found that I was not alone in my dilemma.

In doing that research, I also came across this, which has less to do with what to call the penis and more to do with how much fun you can have researching a novel. Plus, it caused me to get sidetracked by the euphemism “manroot” for a while (for obvious reasons), but also because I couldn’t believe that authors actually used the phrase “manroot” in their fiction. Really? “He thrust his manroot into her...”


The phrase "manroot" should be reserved for vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. (Note to self: sweet potato = possible euphemism for the penis.) Although there are some who think that produce like cucumbers and bananas are so sexually suggestive that women should be prohibited from handling them in order to avoid sexually impure thoughts. I kid you not. (Thank you for the article, Sequoia Raindancer!) Those same people would have fits about the mushrooms growing around here, I can tell you. Mushrooms, by the way, are thought to be an aphrodisiac. I can't imagine why.

One of the things I found most surprising in researching this issue is that there is a scarcity of literature that presents the penis in a loving or tender way - it seems as if the penis is forever stabbing or jabbing or thrusting at something, and it’s often compared to ugly, unsettling things. In poetry, for instance, there’s piles of prose devoted to lady parts of all shapes and sizes, all lovingly described and catalogued alongside all manner of beautiful objects. But I couldn’t find similar poems devoted to the penis.

This seemed like an outrageous injustice - one I decided must be resolved.

Which brings me to my sonnet on the penis. Writing a sonnet SUCKS, by the way. You can take all of that iambic pentameter crap and smoke it, for all I care. My point is, it's a rigid structure - which makes it perfect for a poem devoted to the penis - but working within that structure was maddening for me. What I'm saying is, I hope you enjoy this sonnet because let me tell you... Never again.

The Humble Cock.

A spear or dagger bent on destruction

Is how we mislabel the humble cock.

Not as a weapon of mass seduction,

But as a violent tool of awe and shock.

The function of clubs or bullets or swords

Is halting the heart and stopping the breath.

A rocket brings mayhem to huddling hordes;

Heat-seeking missiles deliver up death.

But the cock embodies all that’s alive

All that throbs, all that rises, all that beats.

It helps us to live; not merely survive

As it brings us our bliss wrapped up in sheets.

To compare the cock to arrow or knife

Weds something to death that's bristling with life.

So as you can see, I went with "cock." Process of elimination, mostly, but also because the word "cock" is simple and has a classic quality to it.

The way I figure it, if it's good enough for Shakespeare, it's good enough for me.