"No one likes a copycat..."

I had a friend who almost drove me to the brink of insanity. He did everything the same way I did it. The same damn way. He even combed his hair like me. But to be fair, I've decided not to tell you his name, or else he might get pathetically embarrassed. And we wouldn't want that.

Anyway, one day the friend I was just referring to, Andrew Milligan Kerley, said to me, “Hey, are you going to the roller derby costume party?”

Going? There was no question about it. In fact, I'd spent five years perfecting my outfit for it — which was top secret. I was going as the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.  And the reason I'd chosen such a costume was because Molly Baker was famously going as Dorothy.

And I loved Molly Baker.

“You bet your donkey I'm going,” I told Andrew.

“You bet your donkey I'm going, too,” copied Andrew.

I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Don't copy me, Andrew, it's rude.”

He placed his hand on my shoulder. “Sorry.”

I sighed and shook my head.

So did he.

The night of the skating party, kids dressed

up to beat the band. There were costumes of all shapes and sizes. Robots, sailors, princesses, cowboys, and soldiers.

And then I saw her. Molly Baker. She stood in the corner, looking as cute as a stick of butter, the spitting-image of Dorothy.

But before I could even lace up my skates, something shot past me. Andrew Milligan Kerley, pathetically dressed as the Scarecrow. He rolled right up to Molly and made a grand bow.

Later that night, I sat outside on the curb, mumbling obscenities to myself. Words that would've landed a boy in prison. That's when Andrew's daddy pulled up in a rust-covered Pontiac.

He hopped out, stumbling like a fool. He took one look at me and giggled. “Hey, boy," he said. "Your momma sent me here to pick you up, you little brat.”

Then, he fell limp against his truck and lit…

Children used to be taught that “chair” had one syllable. Well, anyone from the Yellowhammer state knows better. It has two. So do words like: floor, fire, and bed.

I saw it on the news; they've started teaching Southern English in grade schools. It's only fair. Because ever since the Army wore knickerbockers, kids have learned Yankee-Doodle English.

Children used to be taught that “chair” had one syllable. Well, anyone from the Yellowhammer state knows better. It has two. So do words like: floor, fire, and bed.

Let's talk about cussing. Northerners don't cuss right, they use the the F-word like an assault rifle. But when a Southerner swears, it sounds a lot like Andy Griffith reading the Psalms.

How about the S-word? Southerners finesse it. "Shee-yet." When Yankees use it, they sound like Hitler giving a wedding toast.

Furthermore, the S-word doesn't mean the same thing down in Dixie. Here, it means something akin to, "We missed you at the men's fellowship last night.”

There are also words in the deep South, commonly slurred so fast you might miss them. Words like, "fittna." Example: “I'm fittna go home in a few minutes.”

The word: "ah-ite." Example: “Sister So-And-So has been sick as a

dawg. Gaw, I hope she's feeling ah-ite.”

Or: "mo-kana." As in: "My pants aren't white, but mo-kana grayish."

And the onomatopoeic: “Pssshht.” Which means: “You are dead to me.”

Then there are words whose Southern definitions are unclear. Words like, "yonder." In Georgia, for instance, yonder means: wherever the hell I point.

And: "just the other day," which refers to any date occurring after the birth of Christ.

Also, I'm tired of jokes with the cute catchphrase, “bless your heart.” Contrary to popular belief, that's not a backhanded insult. God no. A real Southern jab goes something like: “Isn't she just precious?” Or: "Oh, I love your haircut, it really slims your face." Or the worst Cotton State insult of all time: "That poor girl, we pray for her in Bible study every week."

Which is downright god-awful.

And you better hope to hell it ain't…

There are no bell ringers, no Rudolph noses. Tinsel is on clearance. Churches quit lighting candles. Nat King Cole is dead, and Tony Bennet is looking less pink every day.

This is the worst day of my cotton-picking life. And it's always the most miserable day of the year. It's as though God extinguished the sun, shot Old Yeller, and ran off with his secretary.

I woke up this morning face-first on the living room floor, wearing a santa hat. I kicked away empty egg nog cartons and stumbled into the kitchen. For breakfast: leftover potatoes, with piss-warm green bean casserole.

Christmas is over.

The tree in the corner is preparing for its own funeral, and we've decided to stop watering the poinsettias. How did this happen?

Twenty-four hours ago, I had a fork in one hand and a new iPhone in the other. I told jokes, I made toasts, I fed the dog so many turkey bones she puked in the laundry room.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, somebody pulled out a guitar. The kids danced, ring-around-the-rosy formation, while I twirled in the center. And when I screamed,

“God bless us, everyone!” the family liked to have torn the place apart with their bare hands.

Now the world is one big cow patty.

There are no bell ringers, no Rudolph noses. Tinsel is on clearance. Churches quit lighting candles. Nat King Cole is dead, and Tony Bennet is looking a little less pink every day.

We've done this to ourselves. Yesterday, we were part of the best damn thing ever conceived by mankind, and it was beautiful. We sang songs about love, gave gifts to strangers. We watched kids giggle. We drove hundreds of miles just to wash dishes together. We took walks around the neighborhood. We smiled a lot. For Christ sake, I even hugged my mother-in-law; I squeezed her so hard I almost broke her titanium hip. But it's all over today.


We act like different people again.

You can wish for whatever you want this Christmas, but I'm going to wish for something I know I'll get. Older.

Santa hasn't let me down yet.

I saw a childhood photo of myself, sitting by the Christmas tree in a pair of pajamas. The kind with the seat-flap that unbuttons. Good God, I looked like a baby. Twenty-five-year-olds ought not wear those kinds of pajamas.

The truth is, you couldn't pay me enough to go backward and grow up all over again. I don't care how good my skin looked, I hate algebra.

One of my childhood friends has developed a head of gray hair. I saw my buddy after twenty years. It's funny how silver hair-color can change someone altogether. He's not the same man.

That rambunctious, dark-haired joker, who once landed me in jail for exactly one night; who slept like a log while I hummed the “Folsom Prison Blues,” has vanished. He's now

a financial advisor who drinks the kind of wine I can't pronounce. Boo-shay something or other. Whenever he tells a lie, I yell, “Aw, that's total boo-shay!” His kids love it when I do that.

The truth is, I believe age makes people better. I think it helps cure the deadly affliction of youth, which folks spend a lot of money to sustain.

Therefore, I hope Santa makes my crow's feet a little deeper this year, maybe a little more arthritis would be nice. I hope he keeps altering the way I pile on body fat. I enjoy watching numbers on the scale climb for no discernible reason. Maybe Santa can bring me a good fiber supplement and some Velcro shoes this year, too. But for Christ sake, please hurry, Santa.

I'm not getting any younger.