Holiday hallucinations: spread the nog

By Jan Creaser

Clink, clink, clink!

Jingle, jingle, jingle!

I’m navigating my way through MacEwan Student Centre, dodging the volunteer clan of “holiday cheer” hunters. I lost the cameraman somewhere back by the A&W lunch line and I’ve found myself muttering into my mic just like Allgood does in that way that irritates me so much. And where the hell is the good professor, you may wonder? She’s lounging on the beach in Cuba on some cushy assignment the new project director gave her because he felt sorry for her. Sure, the klutz injures herself at the Dino Martinis while undercover at the student journalism conference and she gets four weeks in the sun.

“I’m off to observe the Canadian tourist in its new winter habitat, Brain,” she says. “Just like when we did Florida, remember?”

Remember? How could I forget? Pale, pasty central Canadian pensioners wandering up and down the tacky beachfronts in their culottes. Ewwww! It still gives me the shudders. Damn, Allgood! Worse yet, I’ve been forbidden to partake in the students’ favorite pastime. Apparently, “it affects my judgment as a scientist.” I’d kill for just one paralyzer to drown my holiday misery right now. Damn, the new director, too!

Ah! I’m forced to shove my chest into yet another eager beaver’s face to display my “I helped spread holiday cheer!” sticker.

Food bank, food bank, food bank. I dropped 10 bucks before I managed to get my hand on one of those stickers and I’m still not protected. Ten bucks! That’s dinner for a week if you only eat half of the macaroni in the box at a time. Throw in some No-name veggies and you’ve got a veritable feast. If it was good enough for my undergrad, it’s good enough for these young pups.


What the? I’m hallucinating. There’s a tiny, winged Allgood hovering beside me exuding her prim and proper professional attitude. Why do I always get an image of her in a lab coat?

“Brain, relax, and don’t forget to breathe. Think calm, blue ocean.”

Hmmpphh. Calm blue ocean, my ass. I think that’s your department this month, partner.

“Brain, listen to me. All this bitterness will eat you up. For once try to enjoy the holidays and see the good. Remember how often we barely had two nickles to rub together during school? At least we were young and single, with the occasional sympathy package from our parents. The demography of the student population has changed. There are families and single parents, and single students struggling to eke out their education in the hope of a better future. Don’t be such a grinch!”

Allgood, you’re cracked and people are starting to stare at me.

“That’s probably because you’re talking to yourself, Brain. Hey, did you know that cameraman Dave is trapped in a throng by the a&w?”

Yes. Allgood, why do people only develop their goodwill for mankind during the holidays?

“Sorry, Brain, you’ll have to come to your own conclusions. The bartender just delivered my paralyzer.”

The little winged Allgood vanishes with an audible “pop.” Arrrrgggghhhh!

I’m a little calmer now. I guess Allgood is right. I’ve been much too bitter lately. It’s time to break the streak. I’m too hard on these students. Of course, the less fortunate ones need any help they can get. An educated world is a happier world, I always say.

However, despite Allgood’s perpetually positive take on life, I think I’ve hit upon a critical observation in the past few months. Sure, these kids have spirit at Christmas, but the other 11 months of the year the university community is pathetic. There’s a serious lack of school spirit. Students seem to disappear into their own vacuous, little worlds-oblivious to the bigger picture. Sure, there are clubs, but they are small and far between. Drinking games are limited to the Engineers. Nobody even knows that campus sports exist. When will the Dinos fill a stadium? Will the Bio students ever challenge those sharp-tongued Poli Sci majors to a game of tug of war? Losers end up in the mud, winners get the keg!

I can see it now: the University of Calgary Inter-faculty Olympics. There will be tug of war, three-legged races and lots of alcohol to finish off the night! It’s brilliant!

Ah, who am I kidding? Not on this campus, even if you cut out the drinking to be within the liability regulations. Nobody seems to care. They all go home to their insulated worlds and worry about their grades. I’m sure it was different when I was an undergrad


I thought you were gone.

“Sorry, Brain, I couldn’t help but overhear your thoughts. Stop this negative ranting. Your observations are valid, but leave out the cynicism. And remember, we’re just here to observe. Don’t get any foolish ideas.”

Scram, Allgood. I’ll talk to you when you get back from Cuba.

Still, the pesky professor’s earlier demography point has another side. Not only are the students of various economic and social backgrounds, a vast majority of students live off-campus. There’s no incentive to stay. Hmmm, this is going to require more thought and observation, maybe even some subversion on my part

First, I’ve got to destroy this tape or the director will think I’ve been drinking. Then I can work on a plan. In the mean time, I better rescue the cameraman or I may find myself on the cannibal assignment again. Oh, the horror

Jan Creaser can be contacted at

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