Author’s disclaimer: There is no link or blog trick that will play the song “Last Christmas” by Wham anywhere in this post. I give you my word that, if you are still in the game, you are not taking a risk of being Whammed by reading this post. I swear on my reproduction first edition of A Christmas Carol, so help me Dickens!
It all began when we saw Christmas appearing everywhere on November 1st. The remnants of Halloween candy wrappers still played in the breeze on Musket Court when the sounds of Christmas music began to assault our ears. It was more than I could deal with. We were not even through the Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas was pushing in the door.
My sons take part in an annual game that is lovingly referred to as “Whamageddon“. It is an international sensation with a huge following. (It must be legit if it has its own website and a Facebook page!) I am convinced this is an international attempt to hold off Christmas until mid-December, where it belongs. The concept is simple. You do whatever you have to in order to avoid hearing the song, “Last Christmas” by Wham. That is not an easy thing to do if you are paying attention. The contest runs from 1- 24 December. Once you recognize the music as the original version by Wham, you are out. You have gone to Whamhalla. You self report and you are done. It is just a matter of time before those who you love join you. Covers of the song don’t count! It has to be the original, by Wham (George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley).
I was all in on November 30th as I boarded a flight to Savannah. My first year in the competition and I was ready to go, my Wham senses on full alert. On December 1st, the first day of the competition, Jeanne wanted to go get wreaths for her house and pick up her decorations from her storage unit. We set out down the Harry S Truman Parkway with her “to do” list. At the first Christmas Tree tent by the Home Depot, she ran into a friend and they started chatting. I was lost in my thoughts and mindlessly humming the barely audible Christmas tune playing above the din of holiday shopping, tree selecting and parking space jousting nearby when, on the second verse, it hit me.
Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye
Tell me, baby
Do you recognize me?
Yeah, I recognize you… Damn it! At just before 11 a.m., Eastern Standard Time in Savannah Georgia, I had been Whammed. Done, out, game over. I had made it barely eleven hours into the competition. Jeanne apologized for putting me in Wham’s way with a sly grin on her face. It was over almost before it started. I texted the boys with the bad news. I returned to Virginia a few days later knowing that I could listen to any station on my satellite radio without fear of a Wham induced incidence of road rage.
Alex, who initially thought he was eliminated over Thanksgiving weekend, actually was Whammed by Pearl Harbor Day when some Zeros from the 1980s took him out. Within my Whamily (I stole that from Nancy) my sons Matt and Scott, Nancy (Matt’s wife) and my ex were still in it to win it.
Scott was powering through the home stretch of exams and papers for his final semester at Old Dominion University. Because of this I was delaying decorating the house and getting a tree. Setting off the Christmas bomb, as we call it in our house. With his last paper submitted and his final exams in the books on Friday, 14 December we decided to go get a tree. Alex, Scott and I piled into my Cherokee to head out into a light mist to find a tree. As I started the car, Scott immediately questioned my choice of Sirius stations. It was on a contemporary Christmas Channel. He glared at me and uttered one word, “REALLY?!” I pressed the button on the steering wheel and landed on the “’80s on 8”. Another incredulous glare. “And what song was released in 1986?” is all he had to say. (He knew the year of release, I’m impressed) OK, we may be just a little hardcore about this year’s competition. Pressing the button on the wheel again to go to “’70s on 7”, Wham does not exist in that universe. Unfortunately, Disco does. We were able to get in and out of the tree lot on South Battlefield Boulevard without having George Michael as the ghost of Christmas Past appear before us.
Let me say right here that to intentionally play “Last Christmas” (Whamming) to take out a player or players is considered bad form. Is it allowed? Yes. Is it a dick move? Absolutely! If you can no longer take the pressure of the game (I don’t understand the stress, I was collateral damage at a tree farm stand in Georgia barely into day one), you should commit Whamicide quietly, preferably on sound canceling headphones in the privacy of your own home. No need to make a big spectacle of it.
On Saturday, December 15th, Scott graduated from ODU, Magna Cum Laude (Yeah, I did that, I just bragged about my son destroying my undergraduate GPA. I am sorry, not sorry.) The plan was to have a big family dinner, including my ex, on Sunday evening at The Butcher’s Son in Chesapeake to celebrate my son’s accomplishment.
Around the large round table, clockwise to my left were Scott, Melissa, Nancy, Matt, and Alex. Somewhere in the lively conversation, between the french dip spring rolls and the main course, I polled those present as to their status in Whamaggedon. Four hands went up indicated that they were still very much in the mix. Everyone except for Alex and myself. The conversation drifted back to Melissa’s new digs, and Matt & Nancy’s planned NYC run on the infamous Chinatown Bus later this week to see the Harry Potter exhibit at a museum in New York. Under the sultry gaze of the over-sized portrait of Hedy Lamarr on the wall by the bar, we were having a grand old time. Scott was enjoying himself, which made me a happy papa.
Dinner was served and by the time the plates were cleared, I was ready to declare this a successful evening. The waiter pressed once again about dessert and coffee. Scott was wavering on cheesecake. Melissa and Nancy were discussing teaming up on a creme brulee. It was settled. A slice of cheesecake appeared before Scott with “Congratulations” written across the plate in a raspberry reduction. The girls had their spoons at the ready for the assault on the confection before them.
It was the sudden movement that caught my attention. Nancy straightened in her chair, shoulders back, eyes widening. She looked at me, something was amiss. I scanned the dining room, nothing out of place. Hedy’s portrait still kept vigil. Then it hit me, they had changed the music. What was that drifting over the din of diners at nearby tables? Nancy had joined me in Whamhalla. This was too much fun! I was about to witness a group whamming.
It doesn’t surprise me
(Merry Christmas!) I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying, “I love you, ” I meant it
Matt had it next. As he realized what he was listening to, his eyes grew wide, an expletive may have passed his lips. That triggered Scott, dropping his fork. Finally, Melissa realized that they had been taken out in one Whamtastic swipe of The Butcher’s Son sound system. Groans, and complaints from all at the realization that all had found Whamhalla. Except, apparently, from me. According to a post on Facebook from Nancy, I had a good, heartfelt laugh as the realization washed over the table. Matt and Alex confirmed that I was not shy about showing my enjoyment. To be fair, Alex thought it was pretty funny.
I owned it and the check for the evening. It was great fun while it lasted. A silver lining, as pointed out by the fair Nancy, there is no more stress from listening to Christmas Stations on the radio, walking into Harris Teeter, MacArthur Center or a random 7-Eleven. If you hear the staccato electric organ lead-in or if you stumble on the YouTube channel you can rest assured that you are already impervious to Wham.
Now that this is all over I can settle down to watch a nice family Christmas movie. Any takers for Die Hard?
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!