Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Is So Happy About New Years?

Well that's over. Christmas, I mean. I suppose if I had to compare this Christmas to the last 55, I'd have to say it runs about dead last, though in a neck to neck race with the one I spent alone (save for the dog) in my transitional sort of apartment, pining over lost love, hobnobbing with the ghosts of Christmases past, becoming at last deathly ill on rum and eggnog. (Honestly, a wave of nausea passes through me even as I remember. Gak).

Time to change the subject.

How about New Years Eve. Actually I've always pretty much hated New Years. To me it seems somehow endemically depressing--not just this year, but every year. To rate the last 55 New Years on a comparative scale would be very difficult indeed, for the graph would depict a fairly perfect flat line.

This may have started at a very early age. What I remember now is my parents, stable, reliable, Cleaver-like 364 days of the year, turning suddenly into complete idiots, along with all of the friends who had been invited to the house. We--my brother and I, and whichever hapless other children had been compelled to attend--would be quarantined to a second story bedroom, tied to a television set (and believe me, folks, in the late 1950s there wasn't a hell of a lot on late night TV), and the expectation was that we would remain fairly quiet, preferably invisible, whilst the raucous celebrants on the ground floor cavorted. Roars of laughter climbed up and down the staircase, the sound of something shattering, the sound of someone falling, followed by another chorus of roars. Always, at some point, one of us would quite accidentally cause a disturbance of some sort--decide to wrestle, for instance; or break something, or knock over the TV, or suddenly vomit 7-Up and Summer Sausage--and my father, in his hard soled dress shoes, all rubber mixed with iron, would pound up the staircase, thumping between banister and wall, and demand in an outraged though bleary, slurry sort of way what the Goddamn son-of-a-bitching hell had happened.

Fun stuff.

I think now that the whole thing frightened me. My young life was one of security, predictability, sobriety, and so this once yearly departure from all that was safe and familiar was disconcerting at the deepest level. Always, deep down, despite the general mirth that seemed to be expected, I just wanted the thing to be over--to close my eyes, to sleep, and to return next morning to the status quo.

By the time I had grown old enough to be a complete idiot myself, the damage had already been done--such that complete idiocy, though freely, even eagerly sought on many of an evening throughout the year, retained a particularly distasteful quality on New Years. Most often I would just stay at home, and watch the big ball descend, you know?

Descending. What's that all about anyway? Does it not strike you as peculiarly depressing?

Once I went to a party at a club. The girl I was with busted out the back of her dress (apparently a bit too tight), and then later started crying because she was in the midst of separating from her live-in boyfriend, and then got angry at me because . . . well, because it was all my fault.

Later I married that girl and she became my second wife.

New Years is expensive, overly hyped, generally cold, and cannot live up to its own expectations. Rather, to ours. To mine, that is.

So Happy New Years! I shall hope it passes quickly.

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