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An Annual Tradition

The Year in Review – 2021

                                                  December 24, 2021 11:59 p.m.

Most dearest friends, family, family friends, friends of family, Facebook friends, Facebook family, Superfriends, Mama’s Family, and anyone else who falls friend- or family-adjacent,

First, please accept my most humble apologies for the delay in this year’s highly anticipated letter as it has been among the cargo in the Suez Canal. (Thanks, Evergiven.) Still, this was No Time to Die and I was not about to let a little supply chain issue stop me from delivering the best, fully-vaccinated and boosted, farm to table, paraben-free, year-end recap on the market today. It’s fully inclusive as all are welcome here — Carrie, Miranda …NOT YOU SAMANTHA!…Charlotte, Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend from Trinidad, everyone — so at the risk of violating your HIPAA rights, won’t you please join me as we go… INTO THE WASIFVERSE!

Oh mi cron! The year seemed to keep us guessing — what have we done?! — like a software update come to life. The only constant, as usual, was death, taxes, and Tom Brady. The ups were plenty from the heat of Tokyo to Shatner’s rocket into space(-ish) but the downs came quickly for Tour de France bikers like someone doing the stair-stepping challenge in high-heels. Who else went all Squid Game on their neighbors for the last chicken wing? And what am I going to do with all these bags of gasoline? Though we did manage to
free Britney, Free Guy,
and free tacos on Tuesdays,
the stress certainly aged all of us,
Paul Rudd excepted of course.

My much-needed vacation to Shanghai Disney seemed like a great idea at the time, until the fifth day spent trapped on the Small World After All ride. The song still haunts me to this day:

     🎶 It’s a world of grief and a world of pain,

     If I hear one more verse I will go insane. 🎵

     🎵I want to end my life, but I can’t find a knife,

     It’s a Small World After All. 🎶

But this year was all about short-squeezing meme stonks and NFTs to the moon! And Bitcoin! Who didn’t make a fortune on Bitcoin… and then lose a fortune on Bitcoin… and then make a fortune on Bitcoin? It took me a while to grasp this hot new industry but now I make it a point to educate people about it. It’s really quite simple — see, in the old days, we had coins and paper currency which could be used to purchase goods and services whereas this cryptocurrency  is all about staking pools and protocols plus integrity, longevity and so many other important-sounding buzzwords. To put it in layman’s terms, it’s like we had two different suits when the ascot only paired with one of them. But not with Bitcoin, no sir! It is fully integrated in a combination of cryptography combinatorics, and mathematical game theory (the idea that if you get a six, you land on the slide and yell, “SOOOOOOOORRRRRY!”). In other words, remember when Dick Sargent replaced Dick York on “Bewitched?” Millennials know what I’m talking about. Well, crypto is like that! It’s scalable and sustainable, completely bullet proof like Ask Jeeves, AOL Mail, and Blockbuster Video all rolled into one, allowing us to now possibly purchase goods and services with it. Get it? (Please DM me for an explanation on blockchain.) 

I had plenty of time this summer to learn about it while I was laid up after a failed attempt at a Yurchenko double pike. I’m not as flexible as i used to be. It forced me to get healthier. Since then, I have completely eliminated sugar from my diet. . . having redefined sugar as anything with cilantro in it. I developed a herb immunity. Along those lines, I am also fully vaccinated, I got Pfizer shots one and two… then the Johnson & Johnson, followed by the AstroZeneca to protect me from AstroWorld calamities), a few Modernas, some Goli Apple Cider Vinegar shots, and I topped it off with a shot of Ghirardelli. I’m proud to say I’m 328% protected.

Creatively,I found my pet project a casualty of the pandemic and I’m afraid my dissertation on the difference between Hemsworth brothers was discontinued. The days and months and years of research bore very little fruit, though I was able to determine to near absolute certainty that there are three of them. I’ll be applying for more grants in the new year. Fortunately, the setback allowed me to focus on entry into the podcast game. What started as a little side hustle with the “I Am Andy Wasif and I Have a Podcast” podcast, which gives a little insight into who I am and that I have a podcast, has really blossomed into a dynamic sea creature with tentacles reaching all areas including, “The Pod Cast,” a delightful immersion into pea pods, alien pods, storage pods, and the like; “P.O.D. Cast,” an engaging look at Printing on Demand; “Podcast: Tsacdop,” the most captivating podcast on palindromes out there; “Not Just Another Podcast” which was actually my playing unlicensed reruns of “I Love Lucy” until I was sued for copyright infringement that led to my “How Dare You Block My Podcast” podcast. Of course, giving a home to all fans of the Tom Hanks classic provides me much joy with “Podcastaway.” All in all, it really keeps me busy to the point that I barely have time for my podcast about all my podcasts entitled “Podcasts Podcasts Podcasts.” Check ’em out!

Speaking of pets, the big addition to my family this year was a new furry companion. I looked at several different breeds before jumping into the pooch pool including a mix French bulldog/Bichon Frise (French Frise)  and a mix chihuahua/Great Dane (a chihuatheheck?!) before adopting a Siberian King Charles Water Setter, miniature. I, for one, have learned so much like, for instance, there’s a YouTube Channel for dogs called Dog TV… and they have advertisements! I learned t that last part when I got home one day to find out my credit card was dinged for $500 worth of rawhide chews. So when I leave the house, I just set the little fella up with “Succession” episodes to keep him feeling dirty and ashamed.

The Thanksgiving holiday contained a farcical moment after I misread my dinner host’s request for guests to bring hors d’oeuvres to the table and I showed up with horse dewormer. Most guests rounded out an otherwise charming evening at the local emergency health clinic. I’m sure it’ll be something we all share a good laugh over… once their bodily fluid excretions have subsided, no doubt.

And now, before I make good use of the money spent on the online Masterclass: Wassailing, feelings of contentment wash over me as I gaze out my window while listening to my favorite hyper pop EDM new techno tunes on vinyl, a tumbler of Peep-flavored Pepsi within reach, and the view of a magnificent Harvest Moon set against the backdrop of Chinese rocket debris hurtling towards earth.

Thus, with 2021 in the rear view mirror, I want to present to all of you my heartfelt wishes that the most virulent strain of health and prosperity infect those nearest and dearest to you this holiday season.

All the best,

Andy Wasif

You CAN Win for Losing

Back in the eighth grade, I won my junior high school’s spelling bee and got to represent my town at the regional spelling bee, sponsored by the Patriot Ledger newspaper.  To me, I may not have been the best representative because I had actually lost the spelling bee first, before winning it.

Sitting closest to the door (for ease of escape in the event of one of those spelling bee riots you hear about all the time), to the teacher’s left, I was given the word first.  “Doctrine,” she said.  This was ironic because I had recently spent four months that year obsessing on this very same word.

Six months prior, I was Bar Mitzvahed, a day when a Jewish boy becomes a man in every way except for body hair, hormones, bank account, sexual exploits, first and so on.  (I’m not sure exactly how the manhood myth actually started, but it probably had to do with the fact that everyone only lived til they turned twenty.)

On that day, I had to recite one particular passage from the prayer book.  It read (and haunts me to this day) — “Behold, a good doctrine has been given you, my Torah.”  I spent waaaaaaay too long discussing the proper intonation needed for the excerpt. Was I addressing the Torah as in “Hey, Torah, how’s it goin’? Oh, before I forget. . . I’m giving you a good doctrine”?  Or is it the Torah, in fact, that is the doctrine of which I am referring?

The guy with whom I was Bar Mitzvahed and I went over this again and again and could not come up with a consensus.  The rabbi contributed his two cents by explaining he didn’t understand the question and couldn’t give me an accurate answer. (Thanks for the wisdom, your Holiness.)

I found it hard to believe no one had posed the question to him before. You’re saying I’m the only one literate enough to notice the ambiguity of that sentence?  Or perhaps I was the only one crazy enough to care. It’s like the 2% of nutbags who choose cumquat as a vegetable beginning with “c” instead of carrot.

Yes, I saw the word “doctrine” in my sleep. That word was right there in front of me for months!  And yet. . .

When the moderator read the word to me, I was all at once dancing gleefully inside at my good fortune, and weeping because I couldn’t remember exactly how it was spelled.  It was either one way (the correct way) or the other. My heart beat faster. Time was ticking. So I took my shot and spelled it as “doctor” and then “-ine,” i.e. the wrong way.

“No,” she said succinctly, and I exhaled. My heart returned to its normal pace and I sat back to watch the other participants as a spectator. (Have you ever watched a spelling bee as a spectator? It’s as boring as watching. . . no, wait, I’m mistaken. Nothing is as boring as watching a spelling bee as a spectator. Add the humiliation of defeat to that and you’ve got my situation.)

Now, I knew there were only two ways this word could be spelled and there were five more people in line to attempt to spell it.  To. . . this. . . day, I have absolutely zero idea how every single one of those people failed to spell the word correctly.  No fewer than two of them spelled it the exact same way I did, like it was some sort of trick the teacher was pulling on them and they said, “We’re not falling for it.  We know Andy spelled it right, but not with the conviction I’m going to spell it.”  And three of them spelled completely different words, I think.

“Sheesh, wasn’t anyone listening to me?” I thought.

The teacher (no doubt, silently dying inside) shrugged and looked back to me, “Well, I guess you’re back in.”

Seriously?  “Well, okay.  It’s d-o-c-t-r-i-n-e,” I rattled off quickly.  And from there, I was a house afire nailing word after word and watching as my competitors crumbled at the feet of my reborn brilliance.  I even walked out of the room throwing random words back at the teacher, thus earning me the world’s first spelling bee taunting penalty.

It was then that I realized that the most tragic issue in America during the mid-80s was not drugs, the Cold War, nor New Coke, but it was the failure of the school system to properly teach the spelling of the word “doctrine.”  Remember, this was before spellcheck when we actually had to know how to spell words.

Anyway, this was years before New England Patriots hero Tom Brady became famous by leading a game-winning drive against the Raiders in the playoffs after fumbling the ball away.  Due to a technicality, he got a second chance.  There’s nothing wrong with that, come to think of it.  Legends are made on second chances!

Of course, there are second chances that never develop into anything memorable as well. And so for the next few weeks, I studied the booklet of potential words and arrived at the Regionals with my mother and best friend William there to support me.

This bee was far less eventful – Round One: “anklet.” I thought, are you serious? “A-n-k-l-e-t,” I said, and returned to my chair to pray all the other entrants had a massive collective panic attack and withdrew. (I always thought a spelling bee contestant should treat a correctly spelled word like a touchdown and act accordingly, with a dance, a little shimmy, or spiking the inhaler of the kid next to you.)

Round Two comes around: “veinless.” Now, before you scoff and say how easy it is, when I heard the word, I immediately considered that the word “vein” is a homophone. Was it referring to the veins in the human body? A weather vane? I could eliminate that it was vain, as in conceited. But I still had to narrow down the two options.

Can you use it in a sentence? I asked.

Something without veins is veinless.”

Can you give me the definition?

The definition of veinless is ‘without veins,’ or ‘lacking veins’.” (Gee, thanks.)

Can you give me the origin of the word?

The word comes from the Latin.”  (Of course it did. Why wouldn’t it?)

Can you spell the first couple of letters for me?

“No.”

How about a different sentence?

“No.”

Can you — ?

Just spell the damn word, kid!”

I took my shot. I mean, we didn’t have a weather vane on our roof at home and my mother never once referred to our house as vaneless.

V-e-i-n-l-e-s-s.

“Correct.”

Again, dancing inside my head, spiking inhaler.

Then a couple of people got eliminated (ha! idiots!) and it came around to me again. Round Three!

Now, I don’t know if I’ve blocked it out, but I cannot, for the life of me, remember what my third word was. I do remember asking all the previous questions in the hopes they would admire my thoroughness and just give me a pass to the next round, but when they didn’t, I did not even approach its correct spelling.

A big relief as order had been restored to the universe. And with that, spell check came along and further destroyed my ability to spell.

 

So it just goes to show that you can win for losing. But in the end, it was my ultimate failure which paved the way for Tom Brady to be remembered as the greatest second chance artist in history.