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You and your husband decide to take a break from Christmas shopping to go to a nice Thai place. Mmmm… Christmassy.

Then, while you are sitting there waiting for food with names like Kang Dang and Mee Grob Lard Nar (which prompts you to say “Ba Weep Gra Na Weep Ninibong!” to each other for a while, if you’re children of the eighties) you begin to notice the ambiance, a combination of elephants, fans, and Christmas lights. The most noticeable thing about said ambiance is their decision to play cheery Christmas music instead of Thai music. This wouldn’t be bad except that their music choices include a recording of an untalented group of children hollering

“HE SEES YOU WHEN YOU’RE SLEEPING!

HE KNOWS WHEN YOU’RE AWAKE!!

HE KNOWS IF YOU’VE BEEN BAD OR GOOD SO BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!”

at the tops of their lungs. So of course, you make fun of it for a while. Conversation drifts. After a few minutes you realize that the children are still threatening you with Santa Claus.

“This is a long recording,” you observe out loud.You check your watch. It has been at least five minutes since you first noticed the song playing. Just when you’re beginning to worry that it will never end, the children pause, then start singing

“JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE BELLS!

JINGLE ALL THE WAY!!!!”

Which is no more pleasant to listen to, but at least a change from the vengeful Santa song. Conversation drifts again. Suddenly one of you picks up on the words

“HE’S MAKING A LIST!

AND CHECKING IT TWICE!!”

“Did they put it on the CD twice?” you wonder out loud to each other in surprise. You sit and wait for your Ba Weep Gra Na Weep Ninibong or whatever to arrive and you dream of delicious red curries and tasty noodles and you stare at each other across the table. When the song ends, you  listen tensely together, hoping against all hope that the next song won’t be…

“JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE BELLS!!”

But it is. You stare at each other in disbelief. Then you begin to laugh. This can’t be happening.

But it is. Oh, it is. For the next forty minutes you and your husband listen to

“SANTA CLAUS IS COMING… TO TOWN!!”

followed by

“JINGLE ALL THE WAY!!!”

in a loop which appears to complete exactly every three minutes. You begin to count the time until the food arrives in cycles of three minutes each. Jingle Bells ends and after a moment’s blissful pause, Santa Claus is Coming to Town begins again, and your husband says “It must be 6:21 now.” Your watch agrees. You wonder how the staff can stand it. You begin to look at them suspiciously for their ability to walk around like nothing odd is happening. They should be developing homicidal tendencies after half a shift of this, but so far they seem unaffected. Your husband, meanwhile, begins to develop a twitch after Jingle Bells starts for the seventh time.

Mathematics tell you that by the time you have eaten your curry and noodles, you have listened to the same two terrible songs 15 times over. You discover that a trip to the bathroom lasts one cycle, giving you the peculiar feeling that your time in the bathroom did not count, and the universe held Jingle Bells on pause for you until you reemerged.

When you finish your meal, you sit, twitching, counting cycles, waiting for the bill. When it doesn’t come promptly, a feeling of trapped panic begins to set in. You have been there an hour. That is twenty renditions of  Jingle Bells by small children who can’t even harmonize. The most easygoing parents in the world would be breaking out the chain saw by now. It feels increasingly believable that this could be used as a torture method on enemies of America.

When the bill finally arrives, your husband pays indecently quickly, and you actually rush out of the restaurant to gasp together in the blissful silence of the Vancouver eventide.

But the children… your brain rings with echoes of the children singing in your head…

“YOU BETTER WATCH OUT!

YOU BETTER NOT CRY!!

YOU BETTER NOT POUT I’M TELLING YOU WHY!!!”

and when you try and silence that memory another interrupts with

“OH WHAT FUN IT IS TO RIDE ON A ONE! HORSE! O! PEN! SLEEEEEEIGH…”

It takes a good half hour of hard rock and some powerful suppression of memories to block out the singing and you pray that you haven’t been permanently damaged by the experience. You wonder if you will still be able to have children.

Certain songs may have to be Verboten. FOREVER.

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