|Oh, the humiliation.|
It's all television gold, but my favorite segments are devoted to the Christmas sweaters created by the evil geniuses at Quacker Factory. By any sartorial standard, these sweaters are just...awful. In fact, they are so awful that, out of concern for your precious eyeballs, I'm not even going to provide a link to them, lest you be tempted to gaze upon their blinding glory. Google at your own risk.
But my reptile brain is entranced by these horrid little sweaters. Is it the gaudy flash of red and green rhinestones? (Sequined evergreen trees! Bedazzled candy canes! LED reindeer noses!) Or maybe the earnest testimonials of call-in guests who gush about their Quaker Factory sweaters of Christmases past and present? ("You won't see yourself coming and going in one of these sweaters!")
I don't know. I do know, however, that I am not alone in this sick obsession with the Ugly Christmas Sweater.
Over the past several years, the U.C.S. competition has become a popular Yuletide event. In the beginning, it was easy fun. Raid your mom's closet, grab at random one of the many, many (why, Lord, so many?) red scratchy cotton-acrylic blend crewnecks with seasonally-appropriate 3D appliques, and you were good for at least third place.
But the competition this year is fierce. Several of my friends have remarked upon the difficulty of obtaining a truly ugly U.C.S. Previously reliable sources (e.g. Aaardvark's in Redondo Beach) sold all the "good" ones weeks ago to hyper-prepared hipsters. Many a party-goer is resorting to embellishing a not-ugly-enough U.C.S with holiday pins or puffy-paint pens. Is this cheating, or at the very least, not in keeping with the found object spirit of the competition? Purists say yes. But you'd be surprised how low people will stoop when a bottle of Bailey's is on the line.