I really love Christmas, but I despise “New Year’s Eve” and everything that it brings with it. You may call me the “Scrooge” of New Year’s and if that’s your mind, then so be it. I really don’t care what you think.
New Year’s Eve? Bah! Humbug! What’s New Year’s Eve but yet another excuse for getting drunk, kissing someone you don’t know – but would like to know – or less fun, kissing a wife or husband you haven’t bothered to kiss all year.You’re acting like a complete idiot. “Humbug!” I say.
It always seems to me that the day after Christmas is a sad time. There’s not a whole lot to look forward to until those first little green shoots of spring come popping out of the ground – and even then there’s always the dismal damp weather of March yet to endure. I’m sullen on New Year’s Eve because it’s beyond my simple mind why anyone over fourty would want to celebrate the passing of one year into the next especially since we’ll all be another year older and another year closer to the grave. I am fairly confident that my tombstone won’t say “2014”, although IT IS still EARLY in the day. But….
I live in in a ridiculously small town where the biggest center of enlightenment and entertainment is Walmart. The only place you can get a “latte” around here is McDonald’s – and we still pronounce it “LAT”. “Gimme a LAT with cream and double sugar, please.”
Those with the brains and the money have long since abandoned this boring little town and left this forsaken climate for places warmer, sunnier, and drier. I am neither smart or rich, therefore I again find myself stuck here in this tiny town. Winter is just two weeks old and I’m already yearning for spring. In February Walmart will put out the garden seeds and I’ll be one of the fools who will buy a dozen packets as if that will make spring arrive more quickly. I’m such a fool and I know it.
Spring ha! Two weeks into winter and here I sit waiting for spring in my little town. Spring here, even when it does arrive on schedule – which it never does – brings nothing but spine-numbing, bone-chilling, icy rain and gloomy, monotone gray skies. Well at least at the beginning. Most springs don’t really begin or end around here. The seasons change drastically sometimes. One day, all of sudden, it becomes stiflingly hot and humid and we call that “summer”. I’ll take summer any day. I don’t mind sweating. It makes me feel like a real man. Real men are always sweaty. You doubt me? Read a romance novel, my friend.
Christmas and its attendant revelry has now faded into past and now most people are looking forward to their next excuse to get drunk, “party” and act like lunatics – New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve? Bah! Humbug!
New Year’s Eve? A humbug you say? Yes indeed! What is New Year’s Eve but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer. One more precious year of my life in the dumpster of time and the best thing I can think to say is “I made it!” Bah! Humbug!
It is with much chagrin that I realize that I have become a morose and curmudgeonly old man. I admire these traits in others, mind you. The foibles of my youth may have rendered my soul beyond reclamation, for I have not always been so melancholy about New Year’s Eve or so bitter about the climatologically-challenged attributes of my little town. When I was a young man with hair, teeth and a svelte body, I used to fancy the ladies and indeed imbibed my share of various alcoholic concoctions – and worse.
So here I am, on yet another New Year’s Eve, aging rapidly, slipping in and out of sleep. I’m all alone watching the “Twilight Zone” marathon on The Sci-Fi Channel. I keep nodding off in my chair, remote falling out of hand, a bag of Frito’s sliding off my lap. It’s late. The clock strikes eight – the chimes sound as melancholy as my mood. A light drizzle drips down my steamy windows. It’s raining – for I would not even allow a snowflake to dance through the air to grace that gloomy night. No dancing allowed in my world on New Year’s Eve. Humbug!
Suddenly, a bright flash of light floods the room and a terrible clattering and clanking rumbled toward me from the kitchen. I shuddered as the prickles of primordial fear pierce my non-redeemable soul. I keep my eyes tightly shut and, as any brave man would do, I start sweating. When I open my eyes, I wished I would have kept them shut.
Standing before me – less than three feet away – there stood a ghastly figure: a ghost. A ghost that looked remarkably like Dick Clark. I should have kept my eyes closed.
“I thought you were dead, Dick.”
He stood gazing upon me with dead eyes. His powdery gray-white skin seemed to glow in the dark. He wore a red cape and black tights. He had an “American Bandstand” tattoo on his bare white chest, and silky green elf-shoes that looked like bad slippers. He dragged a big, mirrored ball behind him connected by a chain to his waist.
It was a ghastly sight.
“Wake up!” the ghost bellowed. “I am the ghost of New Year’s Past. Do you believe in me or not?”
“I don’t know,” I said gasping and shivering with fear at the sight of Dick Clark standing before me. “I do know that the senses can play tricks on one’s mind especially people my age. You could be a bit of a bad Frito, or gob of moldy salsa, a spoiled cookie, or even that sliver of forbidden pie I ate.”
The ghost rattled his chain and drew the big mirrored ball closer – ripping up my carpet in the process. It was a horrible sound, like that made by a cat with long, untrimmed claws, scraping across a chalkboard. Or like one of the girl’s I used to date – I think her name was Michelle. Anyway, I was nearly out of my mind with fright and irritation. Dick Clark was not only nearly rotted by every one of his dental implants had fallen out on my floor.
“Well, do you believe in me or not?” he screeched.
“Ummm, well, er, I guess I must believe in you! You’ve wrecked my carpet and you do look an awful lot like Dick Clark.” I replied, regaining some of my wit and composure.
“Take hold my cape, dude”, he bellowed.
I grabbed his cape and we flew together through the dank, drizzly night – above the streets of my little town we flew. Away into the mist the ghost and I drifted. My eyes were closed tightly against the advent of a premature landing.
When I opened my eyes, they were immediately assaulted by smoke from a thousand cigarettes. My ears were bombarded by the loud twanging of electric guitars and the pounding of many drums. The ghost pointed toward the stage and I saw myself as I was decades ago – a long-haired, Bohemian, strumming on a Rickenbaker electric guitar, screeching into a microphone, near-sighted and carefree.
It was New Year’s Eve and I was part of the revelry.
The ghost pointed again and shouted above the din: “Do you recognize that young man?”
“I do” I said. “That’s me. Handsome, young and stupid.”
“You didn’t think you were stupid then, did you? You thought you knew it all. Look! Look at yourself. You’re having fun.”
I looked where the ghost pointed and noticed that the noise had stopped. The band had taken a break. I looked around and found myself sitting on a bar stool drinking 101 proof rum, smoking a cigarette with my young arm around to lovely girls. I can only imagine what I was thinking. I wanted to walk up and slap myself, but the ghost stopped me.
“We are invisible. No one can hear you, see you or feel you.” the ghost admonished.
“You sure look like Dick Clark” , I said again.
The ghost just rolled his dead eyes and pointed his bony finger at me.
It was nearly midnight at the bar and the patrons smoked and drank furiously as if they had to do it to get ready for the big hour. I watched the young version of myself sitting at the bar lighting another cigarette, drinking another drink and my arms were slipping down around the girls’ waists. It sure looked like I was very inebriated – and those girls looked mighty alluring.
I have to remind myself that I’m old and decrepit. Those girls would have nothing to do with my shriveled old body now. Too bad too, because I might start liking New Year’s Eve again. I look at the young version of myself and think, “what a cad”.
Damn, I wish I had a time machine.
The ghost stood beside me and said: “Look at you! You’re having fun. You’re enjoying life. You’re celebrating New Year’s Eve with the rest of humanity. You’re relaxed and alive! Look at yourself. Now, look at what you’ve become. No pie, no cookies, no cigarettes, no strong drinks, no high fructose corn syrup, no trans fats, no fun! You’ve become walking corpse – a cantankerous, old curmudgeon who’s wasted his life and whose only desire is to live as a hermit. The world is having fun while you sit at home on New Year’s Eve watching this boring ‘Twilight Zone’ marathon. You have seen each of the episodes twenty times, yet you sit here in a daze, dozing, while the world celebrates the birth of a new year.”
“How pathetic is that?” he asked rhetorically.
I watched the younger version of myself chugging a beer, eating pigs-in-a-blanket, my young, tanned arms wrapped around two lovely, nubile brunettes. I think to myself: How’d I get from there to ‘The Twilight Zone’? Maybe the ghost, that looks remarkably like Dick Clark, is right. Maybe there’s something to this New Year’s Eve stuff.
I turned to the ghost and said: “Take me home. I can’t stay here. Look at me! I’m ruining my lungs and my liver and I’m being consumed by lascivious thoughts! If those girls could see me now they’d run away from me faster than a Muslim from a pork chop.” I cried, in anguish.
“You’re only making me feel worse! You’re a very evil ghost! Why do you torment me so?”
The ghost shook his Dick Clark head and muttered something I couldn’t understand but it sounded like “wow those girls are hot”. I’m sure that’s not what he said, but I can make him say anything I want – this is my dream!
When I awoke, the “Twilight Zone” marathon was over and “American Pickers” was on. Now, I know from experience that when “American Pickers” starts it never ends. I quickly flipped through the channels and stopped at the Weather Channel. They were showing the celebrating masses in cities all over Europe where the New Year had already begun. There were old wrinkled-up people about my age pretending they are young, wearing silly hats blowing silly horns and jumping around like a bunch of morons. Each and every one of themcheering the birth of another New Year. Bah! Humbug!
Suddenly, my worst nightmare unfolded. Right before my weary eyes was “THE BALL”. Something I have avoided for years and years. It was the same ball the ghost in my dream had dragged over my carpet. It was “THE BALL” my parents made me watch every New Year’s Eve. I couldn’t change the channel fast enough and I cursed The Weather Channel for showing Time Square and The Ball.
10:15PM – New Year’s Eve.
Luckily for me, the “Twilight Zone” marathon is still on and I know I am safe even if I don’t make it until midnight, which I am fairly certain I will not. It is fine with me if I wake up at 5:00AM and discover the calendar has turned another year without my witnessing it. So what if it’s a “new” year. What the heck was wrong with the old year. I was comfortable with it. Now I grow another year older, not a penny richer or an hour wiser. And now I’ll have to find my way around in a new year just when the old year was starting to feel warm and fuzzy.
The next three weeks or so, I’ll spend putting the wrong dates on checks and things, and each time I do I’ll be reminded that it’s a new year. I don’t want to be reminded. That’s why I don’t want to watch “THE BALL” drop or go up or down or whatever it does on New Year’s Eve. It’s bad enough we’re all another year older without having to be reminded of it every time I have to put the date on something.
I’ve lost my spirit of adventure these days. I’m not so keen on wondering what lies ahead. I no longer expect every turn in the road to bring something fun and good my way. I don’t like twists and turns in the road anymore. I’d just as soon it stay nice and straight so I can see what lies ahead.
And another thought: The road grows shorter and shorter with each “new” year. New Year? Bah Humbug!
If you’re one of those who finds great joy in welcoming in a New Year, I hope you’re not offended. I will never understand your yearning to leap into that great unknown – especially if you’re over forty. If you didn’t like the old year what makes you think the new one’s going to be any better? And if you did like the old one, why are you celebrating its demise?
I’ll get used to the new year, I’m sure I will and Good Lord willing, I’ll be writing about how nice and comfortable the old year was when the next New Year’s Eve rolls around too.
I sure hope I don’t have anymore dreams about Dick Clark coming to visit me as a ghost though. It was horrible. I can almost hear him counting down as the ball drops and saying “HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!”.
New Year’s Eve? Bah Humbug!
Now, where are those two girls?