When writers for situation comedies have trouble coming up with new story ideas for an episode, they often rely on that hoary device of the indolent -- the clip show.
You have undoubtedly seen your share. The "new" episode hangs loosely around a pedestrian story notion, and is then told in flashback through assorted clips from previous episodes.
Well, that is what you are about to experience. At the end of every year, I cull through Mexpatriate's essays from the past year to review the most popular. And there is the rub.
"Most popular" is an elusive term. Choosing the criteria is tricky. The essay with the most page hits would be the obvious choice. My statistic data only shows the top 10 hits since I started using that software in 2008. Coincidentally, three posts from 2017 were on the agenda.
Because these lists usually have 10 selections, I needed seven more. For those, I decided to choose the seven with the most comments from viewers.
So, here we go, the top 10 essays of 2016 -- according to you and your peers. In reverse order.
10. the way is shut -- 9 January. This is probably my favorite episode of the season. Through a comedy of errors, I ended up locked out of my house, standing in the street in nothing but my underwear along with Barco. I can still remember walking down our main street carrying him on my way to find a locksmith.
9. down and out in garbageville -- 16 March. Someone stole my garbage can. That event led to a discussion about theft -- particularly in Mexico, but elsewhere, as well. Stealing from others seems to be one of the universals of human nature. The discussion reminded me of that bit of wisdom from The Kite Runner:
Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft... When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness... There is no act more wretched than stealing, Amir.8. spanish tales -- 7 March. My relationship with Spanish has been even rockier than my relationships with women. That sentence defines why I am a monolingual bachelor. This episode summed up some of my advances and stumbles -- and, in comparison, my far-better relationship with Barco.
7. going commando with the japanese -- 13 June. My relationship with Spanish may be rocky. But my relationship with Mexican food is tempestuous. I steeled myself this summer to confess I found local Mexican restaurant food to be boring. I still feel that way. That essay unleashed a let's-beat-the-heretic-to-death storm.
6. wrapping it all up -- 1 January. This is the very essence of irony. A clip show using another clip show as a story arc. Hollywood awaits my genius. I suspect there were so many comments on this episode because a large portion of the essays were about the golden retriever puppy who had just joined our cast. His photograph led the piece.
5. trump-sanders -- a ticket in the wings -- 23 February. If you had not heard, the United States elected a president in 2016. In those heady days of the early primaries, it appeared two angry men might overturn the establishment's apple cart. Bernie Sanders was giving Hilary Clinton a run for her much-fabled money. And Donald Trump was turning 15 Republican contenders into kidney pie. In this episode, Mexpatriate predicted the perfect angry man ticket would be Trump-Sanders. Some people failed to see the humor. But it was not a year where humor had a big following.
4. i have come unstuck in time -- 20 June. I had a Kurt Vonnegut moment with my Spanish lessons this summer. At one point, I forgot almost everything I had learned. Where my memory once had a respectable Spanish file, there was a void larger than Copper Canyon. As I predicted, I have recovered some of my former skill. But not much.
3. barco's door -- 11 October. This was one of the more gratifying essays I wrote in 2016. Barco had died two days before. It took me that amount of time to sort through what he had meant to me in the short 10 months he lived with me. Writing the piece helped me to set aside my self-pity and realize what a blessing he had been for those months -- and to appreciate the gift of freedom he gave me through his death.
2. calypso is dead -- 29 December. Several people I knew (usually, only by their celebrity) died this year. But there was only one I knew well: John Calypso, a blogger pal. I am still very glad his wife Anita called me with the news. I know how difficult it was for her. But she told me she knew John would want me to know. I did. And I sorrowfully shared the news and joyously shared his life in this too-brief essay.
1. barcupdate #3 -- 10 October. When Barco went into surgery to repair his turned stomach, I started a series of barcupdates hoping they would have the inevitable happy ending. After all, he was a golden retriever, and everything in life goes well for them. Not this time. In barcupdate #3 I told you the sad news that he did not survive his recovery from surgery. I was glad to be with him when he died. Even more, I was astounded at the support and comments I received from all of you. Thank you, once again. Whenever I am tempted to euthanize Mexpatriate, I remember moments like this, and slog on.
So, there it is. 2016 in a Mexpatriate shell.
Overall, like all years, it was mostly a good experience. Even the tragedies added something to my life.
Here's to all of you. May you each have a contented new year.