Holiday Dysfunction

It's the crap, crappiest season of all

When asked about favorite Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa memories, most people remember the good times. You know, the stuff they write songs about to get you in the holiday spirit — deck the halls, fa la la la, and all that jazz. Now, ask a musician the same question and, instead of poignant tales of seasonal mirth, you'll get memories of embarrassment and crime. There's a lesson about artists wrapped up in there somewhere, but it's a little too tragic to consider. That said, thank a secularized Santa you're not one of these guys:

Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy): "Seven years ago, I was living in an apartment and came home for Christmas, but no one was getting along. That was the year I'd decided to stop wearing big pants and wear littler pants. Tighter pants. I got called "gay" and "a woman" the entire night, so I left and went over to my friend's house and had Christmas with his family. I don't think they knew what to do with me because I'd just shown up there, so they just wrapped a bunch of random stuff they had in their house and gave me other people's presents, like, 'Oh, this is for Steve, but it's for you now, Pete. '"

Evil Jared Hasselhoff(Bloodhound Gang): "About five Christmases ago — so pre-September 11 — I was coming back to the U.S. from Germany, where I'd bought a butterfly knife. Perfectly legal in America and Germany — but we had to go through Heathrow Airport in London. When they found it in my carry-on, they asked, 'What do you plan to do with this?' 'It's a butterfly knife. I don't know. Um, spread some butter on my toast? If it's illegal, just take it.' 'This is an assault weapon, sir. It's a very serious crime.' 'Are you kidding me? Take it.' 'No, no, sir. You're going to jail.' So they arrest me and take me to Heathrow jail, and I'm rotting there for six hours as the cops yell at me like I'm a terrorist. Meanwhile, I'm trying to tell them that I'm just some stupid hillbilly. I got my first butterfly knife from my dad when I was 13. When they opened my wallet, they found my NRA ID and my carry permit and asked, 'What's this?' 'It's my carry permit.' 'What's that mean?' 'Back home, I can carry a gun anywhere I go.' 'Really?' 'Yep.' 'So you really are just a dumb hillbilly?' 'That's what I've been trying to tell you.' And so they put me on the next flight, letting me go."

Gavin DeGraw: "Here's what happened: I got a Tonka dump truck for Christmas when I was 9. My older brother, Joey, he got a matching truck. But he took my truck, and he called me outside when he had it ready to go. So I went outside and there was a ball of flames because he'd filled up the whole back of my Tonka dump truck with kerosene. He pushed it down the road and said, 'How do you like your truck?'"

Fefe Dobson: "One Christmas, I got up at 6 and waited until my mom finally got up around noon. I was practically in tears by then. But the first present was from my sister and as big as a 6-year-old child, so I was excited. I ripped through the paper and opened the box and there was more paper. I'm thinking, 'All right, it's breakable. Must be expensive.' As I got to the bottom, my hope started to run out and there were tears in my eyes. All there was was a bright, shiny, copper penny. It wasn't even like we believed in pennies being good luck or anything. It was just to laugh at me."

Steve Bays(Hot Hot Heat): "When I was 8, I was in the school Christmas play. I just remember insisting that I dress up like Michael Jackson for this Santa's workshop scene. At the time, that was my whole thing. When I think back now to what I thought Michael Jackson's aesthetic was, though, it doesn't really make sense. I had these red-and-black, fingerless, studded gloves, which were totally not a Michael Jackson thing at all. And I had these random novelty gold pendants I was wearing that was more of a Mr. T thing. I remember I got into a fight with my parents too because I insisted I had to wear these jeans with tears in the knees."

Leela James: "I just remember I never believed in Santa Claus, and I'd have this debate with everyone in the neighborhood. This particular year, I had this serious campaign to prove I was correct, so I was going to stay up all night and go to all my friends' houses to look for this so-called Santa Claus or find evidence of him delivering these gifts. Needless to say, I didn't get any proof of Santa coming down our chimneys. Then again, I grew up in South Central, so we didn't have chimneys. On Christmas morning, though, all my friends had pictures of Santa Claus, late at night, on top of their roofs with this big bag, but I found out later they were just pictures of my friends' dad. They always knew there was no Santa Claus, so they stayed up all night fabricating proof that there was one to have fun with me."

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