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Unsung Heroes of 2011

I just thought it’d be nice to give a shout-out to some of 2011’s finest before the novelty of the new year tapers off. The Justin Bieber movie happened. Greek yogurt became a thing. It goes without saying that all of us have a non-sarcastic special place in our hearts for this year’s musical masterpieces, like “Friday” and the entire 21 album (also, I like to think that Rebecca Black and Adele hit it off really well and are planning a secret made-to-dvd movie that will be this decade’s version of “From Justin to Kelly”).

I have my money on 2011 being remembered as the MiddleLopezShian Triple Wedding Megathon. If any Cams majors are reading this and still need an idea for a comps proposal, I have lots of exclusive wedding footage for what could be your career-making E! Hollywood Special on the 2011 Summer Wedding Megathon. I can’t speak for Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian, but I’d be willing to let you interview me about exactly how much time I spent bawling in a parked car somewhere on Elton Hills Drive the day before the wedding. It might take a little convincing, but I think I could arrange for the three of us to get together and record a sweet R&B single about our collective experience. Kate and I could sing about the joys of marrying up (ha..) and Kim could do a bridge about 2011’s shortest marriage. Deal!

While it’s important to look back and remember the people and events that affected all of us last year, I think it’s my duty to put the spotlight on a couple of memorable people/inanimate objects that made a tremendous difference in my life during 2011. Here’s a countdown:

5. Kwik Trip
A few days ago, Ernesto and I got back to Northfield after spending the day in the cities, and as we were getting out of the car, one of us left the keys in the trunk, locking us out of our car and our apartment at two in the morning. Minnesota has had a mild winter so far, but it’s still super cold at two in the morning. We did the responsible thing and called AAA to send someone down to save us. After AAA told us it would take about half an hour for someone to drive over, we did the important thing and walked to the nearest Kwik Trip, where we bought hot chocolate and a six-pack of Glazers donuts and ate our troubles away. I think I was the one eating my troubles way, and Ernesto just ate a donut to make me feel like less of a gluttonous monster. What a guy. SO this very nice lady at Kwik Trip let us loiter at her gas station for a while and looked away while I stuffed myself with fried dough at 2:30 in the morning, which I think deserves a spot on this list of 2011’s Greatest. A lesser person might say that the real hero of this story is AAA, but AAA didn’t provide free warmth and cheap food when I needed it most.

4. Chicken Wings
I don’t have a neat story to follow up with, just a whole lot of love for the most delicious half-off appetizer option at Applebee’s. That sounds a little product placement-y, but I’m being so sincere right now. I didn’t start liking wings until about a month ago, and they have made me a changed woman.

This is me being a champ and giving myself a thumbs up at BWW after a successful order of Chipotle BBQ wings. Also, it’s hard not to feel like a champ with the awesome manicure my 5-year-old cousin gave me. She got bored after doing my right hand and just left my left-hand nails blank, so I have to constantly hide one hand in a pocket or a mitten to give the illusion of symmetry.

3. Chuck Testa
I watched this video at least five times a day for a week after I first saw it. I could write poetry to you about all the ways I love it. He probably shouldn’t be on this list because he’s already gotten 10 million Youtube hits, but seriously.

2. Stephen King audiobook
The more I read things by Stephen King, the more confident I feel in concluding that 1) he’s probably a jerk, and 2) we would get along super well. He’s from the East Coast, he’s a Red Sox fan, he constantly makes pop culture references, he wrote a book about how to write a book. I use the very brief window I spent in living Massachusetts to claim that I’m from the East Coast, I used to cheer for the Red Sox when I could blame their losses on a cool legend (and even for a few years after they stopped being the underdogs), etc etc etc, we obviously have tons in common. So for me, listening to It on audiobook felt less like faux-reading, and more like having a very long, one-sided, slightly terrifying conversation with my pal, Stephen. Stevie. Stevie-K.

1. Karaoke
Geddit?! Unsung hero?!!! Hold your applause. The truth is, karaoke would probably be better off unsung by me, I haven’t done it any favors this year. BUT BOY DID IT DO ME SOME. I have known four kinds of karaoke throughout 2011, the intricacies of which deserve more attention than I’m willing to give in this already drawn-out post. Let me just say that karaoke has always been here for me during the best of times and the worst of times, and that I believe heaven is just me with a microphone and some lyrics in front of me and a voice that carries like Mariah (this isn’t a list of my proudest accomplishments of 2011, but I just want to sneak in here that I know 100% of the Inspectah Deck and Ol’ Dirty Bastard verses in “Da Mystery of Chessboxin”.. I promise you that it’s impressive).

What did you do to celebrate New Years? Because I kicked in the first twoish hours of 2012 singing karaoke at my house with a bunch of hispanic families and it was the happiest two hours of this year so far. Most of them were in Spanish, but I also did Wham’s “Last Christmas,” which has been sort of a personal fantasy of mine since I was fourteen. In my “Last Christmas” Karaoke Fantasy, I’d envisioned everything to be powder blue and taking place in a mix between a Christmas claymation movie setting and an Old Navy commercial. I’m wearing a very cute cashmere beret while fake snow falls gracefully around me. There’s also a sheepish-looking boy who is either Aaron Carter or Gordo from Lizzie McGuire standing under the claymation trees looking at me sadly, thinking something like “Man, I’m such an idiot, why didn’t I realize she was someone special?” Maybe this started before I was fourteen. Anyway, the real thing didn’t turn out quite like the fantasy I’ve been envisioning since maybe-age-fourteen (but probably more like age ten), but when I closed my eyes and ignored the dull roar of screaming children running around my house, it was close enough.