Issue #121 – “Year in Review” – December 17th, 2007

-At the beginning of 2007, my buddy Brian and I created a spreadsheet in which we guessed when each of our four friends in serious relationships would get engaged during the year.  Whoever was more accurate would be taken out to dinner by the other.  The only rule was that at least two of the four couples had to get engaged for the bet to count.  Fast forward twelve months: one couple is engaged, two couples have moved in together but aren’t engaged yet, one couple has split up, and all eight participants resent us for wagering on their love lives.  Although the bet did not meet the minimum threshold to be deemed valid, I did learn from the experience that trying to predict the year ahead is futile.  So let’s look back instead.  This is my Year in Review.

-The best thing that happened to me in 2007 was that I stopped shaving.  I was inspired to do this by my buddy Claudio who works in advertising (which apparently is similar to being a comedian in that appearing clean-cut is optional).  Instead of using a blade and shaving cream, he simply uses a buzzer to trim down to stubble, and then lets it grow back out until he trims it again a few days or even a few weeks later.  Fucking brilliant.  Freed from irritated skin and cutting myself, I now rock stubble 24/7.  Plus now I know that if this stand-up thing doesn’t pan out, I can always go into advertising.

-Toward the end of the year, my alma mater sends out a manifest of who in my class donated to the school, and at what level they gave.  The giving levels have fancy names like “Benjamin Franklin Society,” “Ivy Stone Society,” and “Other.”  I always read the list from top to bottom thinking things like, “Can’t believe he makes more money than me,” “Shoulda dated her,” and “What a cheap bastard.”  I guess nothing engenders school spirit more than jealousy, regret, and spite.

-When I return home to Long Island for the holidays, a huge change awaits me.  After twenty-eight years, my parents have finally turned my childhood bedroom into a guest room.  The weirdest part occurred this summer when, in preparation for the renovation, I had to empty the room of all my belongings.  It was like going back in time as I ripped down Don Mattingly posters, listened to cassette tapes, and played Game Boy.  I found some cool stuff – like my first pair of baby shoes and the Young Author Award I won in fourth grade.  Unfortunately, though, any amazement I felt about growing up to actually become an author was quickly quelled by the discovery that I own the cassette single of “Rump Shaker.”

-This year, I also attended my ten-year high school reunion.  The turnout was pretty amazing, and a few people got pretty fucked up which was kinda funny, but the highlight for me was running into my first girlfriend from middle school and meeting her fiance.  After all, when we dated for about a week circa 1990, who would have thought that, so many years later, one of us would be embarking on an amazing phase of life filled with thrills and new adventures – and the other would be getting married.

-People in LA don’t tip like they do in New York.  The end of the year in New York means running around frantically trying to tip every handyman and “porter” that supposedly works in your building.  But I asked a few people in my building here in West Hollywood if they tip the maintenance guys and they looked at me like I was insane.  Of course, they might have been looking at me like that because I haven’t shaved in a month.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-This year, I noticed a perplexing trend: people assuming that I’m older than I am.  A few times in the past couple of months, I’ve asked people to guess how old I am, and they all thought between thirty-two and thirty-five, though I’m only twenty-eight.  Appearing older is not as big a deal for guys as it is for girls, so I’m not too concerned.  It’s probably just because I carry myself in such a mature fashion (when I’m not gambling on friends’ nuptials or listening to Wreckx-N-Effect).

-In October, the Ben Stiller movie “Heartbreak Kid” came out and, although I didn’t see it, I’ve been told the last line of the movie is “Fuck me” – the phrase I’ve been using to close this column since 1997.  I only bring this up because another weird trend started happening this year: fans concluding their emails to me by saying, “Fuck you.”  From the context of the emails, I can now tell that people are merely putting a good-natured twist on my use of “Fuck me.”  But since this hadn’t happened before, the first twenty emails caught me completely off guard.  I didn’t understand why everyone was so pissed off.   Then, in Ruminations #120, I wrote how you should always respond with “Thanks, got it” when someone emails you something important – just so they know you received their message.  After I got 1,000 replies to the column that just said “Thanks, got it” I started to wonder why I do this to myself.

-When I’m not being taunted by fans, I love to receive emails about how Ruminations has affected their lives.  For instance, there’s Jeff in Nebraska, who wrote to tell me how he got pulled over for speeding while reading my column on his BlackBerry in the car.  I don’t condone such behavior, but I do celebrate it.  My personal favorite was probably from Allison in South Carolina, who got shitbombed and convinced her friend to take her to Sonic – where she proceeded to vomit out the window in the middle of the drive-through.  The email continues that, as she booted, she actually thought to herself, “I feel like I’m living an Aaron Karo story.”  Gosh, I’m so proud.  And a little nauseous.

-Then there was the couple in Boston that bought tickets to one of my shows, but broke up shortly after the purchase.  When the show finally came around, they decided to go together anyway.  They then proceeded to get hammerblasted while I was on stage, hooked up afterwards, and are now back together.  Call me Cupid.  On the other end of the spectrum is the fan I met after a show in Minneapolis who told me he was introduced to my column by his now ex-girlfriend.  “Karo,” he said to me, “I just got out of a five-year relationship and the only good thing that came out of it was you.”  OK, now I’m blushing.

-And, finally, in 2007 I had two very interesting experiences at a bar in New York’s East Village called Professor Thom’s.  First, in June, the bar was a stop on the pub crawl I organize for my friends every summer.  However, for the first time ever, there was a rain delay and we were forced to stay there way past our allotted time.  This generally would not have been a problem, except for the fact that Professor Thom’s is a Red Sox bar.  They do not like my kind there.  I sat quietly in the corner watching the Yankees on a twelve-inch screen while the Red Sox played on ten plasmas.  I swore never to return.  Then, in September, I returned.  Professor Thom’s is also a University of Michigan football bar, and although that’s another team I couldn’t care less about, I was crashing with Claudio, who is an alum and wanted to go watch the game.  So we dragged ourselves over to the bar, both rocking five o’clock shadows though it wasn’t even noon yet, and began to drink.  A few hours later, the game ended and the Michigan faithful began to shuffle out – some even crying.  And as I witnessed Appalachian State complete one of the biggest upsets in history, I realized once again how unpredictable life can be.  I have no idea what 2008 will bring, but I wish you all health and good fortune.  And may you donate enough of that good fortune to make your classmates jealous.  Fuck me.