The beauty of the Internet (or the bane, depending on what side of the argument you’re on) is that you can sit at home in your pajamas and anonymously view the creative weirdness of other anonymous souls without having the slightest bit of context or backstory for what you are viewing.

When you think about it, modern humanity isn’t linked by common goals, dreams or desires. That’s so 20th-century. Forwarded joke e-mail pics depicting giant rattlesnakes, drunken peccadilloes, trail-camera mystery monsters and the singular obsessions and unfortunate mishaps of others is the glue that now binds the global community. Who hasn’t received those captionless, authorless photographs that endlessly swirl through the electronic ether and settle in our in-box, captured moments of some unknown soul’s life suddenly digitized and exposed to the eyes of the world without benefit of explanation? So we’re forced to make our own reality for what we see.

Like this photograph:
I have absolutely no clue as to the who, what, when, where or how of this photograph. It simply appeared in my in-box, almost lost in the blizzard of spam and mundane chatter that comprises my life. My first thought upon viewing it was “I didn’t know any of the guys from ZZ Top hunted” followed by “Man, that’s tacky as hell. Who would take the time and trouble to do something like that?”

Who, indeed. I looked again, and a story started forming in my head. A story of a lonely neighborhood widower: a guy with a wife who left him, a son in another state, and buddies who are slowly disappearing from deer camp. He doesn’t hunt much these days, and he spends most of his time sitting alone watching the neighborhood punks fall off their skateboards. But there’s one that keeps hanging around, a skinny kid with a desire to hunt, a mom who works two jobs and a dad who skipped out long ago. The man knows this kid is desperate for a role model but is either too proud or too ashamed to come out and say it. One day, as he’s sitting in his recliner looking at the dusty mounts on his wall, reminders of good years long past, the man gets an idea…

Pure fiction, of course, and cheesy, hackneyed fiction at that. For all I know this dude is an enforcer with the local chapter of Satan’s Disciples and the Santa getup is merely a convenient way to confuse the Feds while he’s making his weekly smack run. The point is, pics like this are a blank canvas for your imagination.

So give me a Christmas story for this picture. It can be as cheesy, heartwarming, stupid, funny or ridiculous as you like. The only requirement is that it must be a complete and total fabrication and it must reference the elements in the photo.  Pour yourself a big glass of egg nog, add your favorite libation and start lying…