Well, it’s the holiday season again, whether we want it to be or not (I do not), and that means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For many it means braving mall combat zones, drinking eggnog, festooning pinaceae, and listening to Michael Bublé. For others it may mean extended periods of self-loathing, drinking “eggnog”, and seasonal affective disorder. Whatever your holiday practices may be, chances are you’ll be receiving a gift or two (if you’re nice).
I’m very thankful for any gifts I receive, no matter how big or small, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but there are a few things that I really, truly want, and would love to receive, but I likely never will. Maybe everyone feels this way, a secret disappointment each year after all the presents are unwrapped and, hey, you got a lot of cool stuff, but the one thing you really wanted is missing. It’s this selfish, deep down thought that there are some things you would never ask for, but you feel a little affronted that nobody just knew. Well, anyway, here is mine.
A dinosaur. Yeah, a dinosaur. This goes way back to when I was very young. I thought dinosaurs were just the raddest thing there ever was. I had books about dinosaurs, movies about dinosaurs, dinosaur toys, dinosaur bed sheets. There was nothing I wanted more than my own pet dinosaur. And, in the innocent, wondrous, idiotic way that a child’s mind works, I really believed it was a possibility. My parents just didn’t love me enough. Year after year I’d get toys and clothes and books, but no dinosaur.
As I got a little older, I began to realize that maybe this was an actual impossibility. I gained a bit of an understanding and acceptance of reality. I started to comprehend the concept of death, and my messy little child-brain even began to wrap around the idea of death on a grand scale. Extinction. There were no more dinosaurs. None. And hadn’t been for, like, hundreds of years. It would be impossible for me to get a dinosaur for Christmas. Maybe my parents weren’t as neglectful as I’d made them out to be on that call to social services. I slowly commenced my resignation to the fact that I would never get a dinosaur.
Then, in waltzed Michael Crichton.
When I was ten years old, just about to put my longstanding dreams of dino-ownership to rest for good, my parents took my family to a movie theatre to see a film called JURASSIC PARK. Hey, my parents are starting to look alright now. This was a defining moment in my life. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Here was a movie with totally realistic looking dinosaurs that were terrorizing people and eating them! This was not the wacky cartoon capers of sunglasses-clad dino pals that I was used to. I walked out of that theatre a changed boy. I soon got my hands on a copy of the Crichton novel it was based upon, and read it three times. It was even more full of terrifying adventure and cool, guts-spilling violence. But, the main thing that I took away from my immersion into Isla Nublar was that there was a possibility I could still get my dinosaur.
Mosquitoes! DNA! Cloning! It was all so simple! I was on the ball enough to know that there still weren’t any real dinosaurs, but the potential was there. It was all explained pretty simply by the cartoon DNA strand in the movie. And, much more complicatedly, by the author in the novel. The author, who is a scientist. A scientist is telling me that dinosaurs can be effectively cloned. I figured, hell, I probably won’t get one this Christmas, but in two or three years I’ll have one for sure. I thought about what kind I was going to ask for. I’d always figured that any dinosaur would be great, but I really wanted a T. rex. Crichton made a good case for velociraptors, but, a T. rex is a goddamned T. rex. It never crossed my mind that it might kill and eat me. I always assumed that if it was my pet it would be cool with me, and only eat who I wanted it to eat.
But, the years passed and still no dinosaur-shaped Christmas presents under the tree (or in the yard). My parents went back to being assholes, and I grew up to be a cynical, bitter man. I’ve long ago given up on that dream. I know I’m not going to get a dinosaur for Christmas this year, or any year to come. But still, around the holidays, I sometimes find myself a little caught up in wild flights of fancy. I mean, we must have the technology to not only clone a T. rex, but genetically engineer it so it’s about the size of a golden retriever, right? I could handle that, I’ve had cats before. Maybe I could even feed it cats. I’d walk it every day. Ah, there I go again. I’d best just stick to Christmas wishes that actually come true. Like that Christmas would just be over already. I get that one every year on December 26th.
*Original artwork by Johnny Scott. (Signed copies for $100, payable through PayPal.)