Resolutions for the Rage-Filled Screaming Set |

Resolutions for the Rage-Filled Screaming Set

Illustration by Max Burbank

BY MAX BURBANK | If you’re anything like me, right about now you’re thinking, “What? How can it be almost New Year’s again? Didn’t we just have one?”

If you’re really like me, you’ve also missed another meeting with your parole officer and you’re crouched down under your work desk, sipping off-brand booze out of a Fresca can.


#1: Crouching under your desk does not make you invisible, just like it said on your last performance evaluation.

#2: Any beverage called “Southerner’s Comfort” that costs less than six bucks for a two-liter plastic bottle will certainly make you go blind.

#3: Be less like me.

How am I supposed to process 2017? I haven’t gotten over 2016 yet! Remember 2016? How it killed every single celebrity you ever loved, but left Scott Baio standing there totally unscathed, like some sort of person-sized, glazed ham with glued-on Googly Eyes and a slack jaw? And then, out of the more than 20 candidates running for president, the racist, shaved orangutan-looking, human practical joke won? And then Carrie Fisher died? And then Carrie Fisher’s mom died? And then it dawned on you that Carrie Fisher’s mom was the lady from “Singin’ in the Rain” and you cried for a solid week until you were as dehydrated as a strip of convenience store beef jerky? And then 2017 came along and was all like, “hold my beer” to 2016, which made you nostalgic for when the opportunity to use that joke structure was infrequent enough that it was still slightly funny? And that made you cry for another straight week?

What the hell is 2018 going to be like? I mean, it could be better, right? Statistically speaking, it ought to be — but what if it’s more like a rabid wolverine that somehow has opposable thumbs, duct taping you to a chair and using a belt sander to take EVERY SINGLE HAIR OFF YOUR BODY until you’re as BALD as a HARD-BOILED EGG, and all you can do is wonder what the HELL that was in PREPARATION FOR?

Okay! Maintain. We all have to get hold of ourselves. To stay calm, I recommend order — a routine, a plan to stick to; a set of “resolutions” if you will, for the New Year, to keep from screaming all the time. Here’s a template you can crib from at will.

#1: STOP SCREAMING ALL THE TIME. No one likes it. Stop. Now. Pull your upper and lower teeth together. Close your lips over them. Okay, now it’s just a super loud, scary humming. That’s worse. Try holding a pillow over your face. Do not ask someone else to hold a pillow over your face, especially a spouse, significant other, or unknown intruder. That often ends badly.

#2: BE LESS ENRAGED. You can’t feel a maximum amount of rage 100 percent of the time. Every athlete knows you have to pace yourself, and if rage isn’t a sport, then why is watching the news currently the best cardio workout ever invented by God? Try this: Instead of feeling mad, feel sad. Now bottle that sadness up, repress the hell out of it and shove it way down deep, where heat and pressure will transform it into a white-hot diamond of incandescent rage you can use later! Healthy, right?

#3: GET FIT. Any doctor worth their salt will tell you good nutrition and exercise are the best medicines for depression, often while sobbing uncontrollably, presumably because the busy lifestyle of a doctor leaves them little time for either. Of course, with the recent passage of tax “reform,” chances are none of us will be able to afford health insurance in 2018, so the hypothetical doctor from whom I received the advice in the first place is purely imaginary, which might explain the sobbing better than their busy schedule. Lately, all my fantasies seem to escape control and end in sobbing.

#4: HAVE MORE CHEERFUL FANTASIES. For God’s sake, exercise a little self-control. It’s your head; you’re allowed to do what you want in it! When other people imagine they are James T. Kirk, they kick Klingons in the chest and have a fine time with the space ladies. Why is your Kirk crouching down under your space desk drinking Romulan ale out of a space-Fresca can and audibly sobbing? And oh GOD, I just realized none of my readers identify with my fantasy. My pop culture references aren’t even slightly topical, because I am SO OLD — bleeding gums, easily winded, too much hair in my hairbrush OLD; William Shatner, classic “Trek” OLD — and it fills their rippling, youthful bodies with REVULSION!

#5: STOP IMAGINING YOUR READERS HAVE RIPPLING, YOUTHFUL BODIES. I know #4 was “Have More Cheerful Fantasies,” but there’s a fine line between “cheerful” and “delusional” — and in the world we’re living in, that line is very fine indeed; like the width of a single molecule, which (science fact) means that line is also dangerously, lethally sharp. So watch it, bucko. You’ll cut yourself real bad if you’re not careful. You know what? Throw Resolution #4 right out. Our current world is not a safe reality in which to get lost in pleasant daydreams! You need to stay on your toes, keep sharp, be wary, or you’re liable to end up in a dystopian re-education facility with a barcode tattooed on your forehead because you “cracked wise” once too often in a stupid little political satire column whose readers did not “get” your “references,” because you are ANCIENT! James T. KIRK? What the HELL, man? COME ON!

#6: CUT THAT CRAP OUT RIGHT NOW. Seriously. This is why, when on the rare occasions you get invited to parties, everyone is scared of you.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Okay, scrap everything except Resolution #6. Maybe if people only had one resolution on their list, they’d keep it longer than a week. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and other metaphors that are hard to keep in mind when you feel like your hair is on fire. Take a deep breath and look around. You’re not alone. Every halfway-decent person you see feels like their hair is on fire right now. Anyone who doesn’t is either a highly evolved Zen master or a big sack of jerk. There are way more jerk sacks out there than Zen masters, and the Zen masters will take your constant, rage-filled screaming in stride.