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A look back at 2005

The World, me, and the great mayonnaise challenge

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Not many people get to write a year in review of their year in review, because most people don't have a column. And those people who do have a column would think it to be an exercise in narcissism. To prove I'm not an egoist, I look beyond my own narrow experiences by comparing what took place in my life to what happened in the world.

No More Fighting:

It looked like the world finally made a New Year's resolution to get along. The 21-year civil war in Sudan appeared to be over after a reconciliation agreement in January and a power sharing deal in June between the government and rebels, but in August, fighting in the capital resumed over an alleged assignation of the former Southern Rebel leader. Peace has been shaky since. As it turned out, only two continents spent '05 with their hands off their rocket launchers, and logic will tell you it's only a matter of time before the Aussies and the Eskimos engage in a battle over the continental superlative for Most Friendly.

But it wasn't all bad news. Separatists in Aceh gave up with Indonesia and the IRA called it quits in Ireland. In April, Italy returned an 80-foot obelisk that Mussolini stole from Ethiopia, causing citizens to dance in the streets and throw coins in joy. At Pope John Paul II's funeral, both the Syrian President and the Iranian President shook hands with Israel's President, and none of the leaders had concealed hand buzzers.

No More Gym:

The most common New Year's resolution, besides flossing more, is beginning a gym membership. That's why I started 2005 by quitting the gym. I'm not talking about healthy working out like running or training for the pole vault. I'm referring to hurling heavy metallic objects in every direction so growths develop out of your body. For starters, everyone in the gym has a self-esteem problem; bodybuilding is the male equivalent of getting breast implants three to five times a week (which is too many boobs).

It's a nasty addiction, and users believe if they acquire enough bumps and bulges, they will be more desirable, more appreciated and ultimately more loved. They're wrong.

My decade of gym indoctrination was spurred by a junior high girl's cruel crack when trying to convince me not to go to the burger shack instead of a deli on a half-day. "C'mon, Jared, everyone knows you could use a salad." To credit her observational skills, I had grown quite acclimated to an afternoon McDonald's snack, which alternated between the now extinct Daily Double and the soon to be extinct McRib (if it was in season). But I thinned out by high school and the subsequent metal hurling hours were compensation for that one embarrassing moment. Finally, I came to realize the striations and vein bulges of the muscle were less attractive than the indentations and sickliness of the waif. With the extra time I saved not going to the gym, I dedicated to other worthy causes like charity and studying. By that, I mean napping.

Natural Disasters:

This past year will go down in the history books as the year nature fought back, prompting many to conclude God has finally gotten off his ass to smite us after forgetting to do anything at Y2K. Maybe this proves that the Almighty lives on a planet five light years away and all this debate over the gender and race of our Lord was irrelevant. We really should have been arguing over how many green tentacles he/she/it has.

The more rational religious fanatics took Katrina as a sign that New Orleans was targeted for its sinfulness and abortion friendliness. Of course, it had nothing to do with the dam that was practically constructed out of macaroni noodles. Attributing blame for misfortunes to a higher power is one of my favorite games. Like when God showered Kansas with dust in the 30s because one farmer got a little freaky with the livestock.

White Monday:

May 16th was the darkest day of the year on a personal level. For some reason, people treat graduations as celebrations. Instead of being sad about the good times that have passed, they are looking forward to better times ahead. These are the same crazy people who treat funerals as parties. There's absolutely nothing positive about the official end of your youth. Typically, negative life adjustments occur gradually; no one has a mid-life crisis in a day. But the finite conclusion of 20-plus glorious years of little to no responsibility or stress should be greeted by a caravan of forlorn children moping through the streets with strings connected to empty beer cans dragging behind them.

Perhaps I was thinking about the end of innocence when I did the most childish thing in my life on graduation eve. We had just hosted a catered dinner for 100 people and after the families had gone back to hotels, we discovered the supply of mayonnaise for all the cold cuts had been left behind by the catering company. One of my so-called friends gathered a pot of $900 from other friends and offered it to me if I could consume all the vile substance (that was warm by then) in the massive bowl. I grabbed a giant spoon, and wearing my cap and gown, went to work. About five heaping spoonfuls later, it became apparent that not only was I not going to come close to ingesting all the mayonnaise, but the mayonnaise already in my stomach was not happy sitting there.

The next day in the scorching Atlanta heat, while I listened to Tom Brokaw compare our lazy generation to his great one, a noticeable odor of mayonnaise permeated through my skin.

Imprudent Occupancy:

Between July and October, the Iraqi constitution was drafted and bickered over at a time when I was trying to reduce bickering, having moved back to the suburbs with my parents. For months, I existed on a delicate balance of free food and self-loathing for having moved back to the suburbs with my parents. I wisely withdrew from dangerous territory, while the US continues its occupancy.

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