My Boring New Year’s Eve
If you like pointed hats, confetti, and cocktails, then I suggest you not read any further; for I am the Ebenezer Scrooge of New Year’s Eve. If there were such things as ghosts of New Year’s past, present and future, they certainly would have haunted me by now.
I suppose it all began somewhere back in my childhood. Being subjected to Lawrence Welk, Guy Lombardo or whoever it was that entertained the masses on New Year’s Eve long ago, I’m certain set the stage for what was to become a life-long dread of New Year’s Eve. Well, maybe “dread” is the wrong word. Maybe I’m just jaded, but somehow watching zillions of people watching a ball drop at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve just seems a bit ridiculous. It makes me want to scream “Get a life!” If you know what I mean. I’m sure all those New Yorkers who hoot and kiss in Times Square on New Year’s Eve would chortle uncontrollably if they ever spent a day living my boring life.
Walk a mile in my shoes, New Yorkers and you’d die of boredom… I’m certain of it! No Orange Julius, no $340.00 dinners, no skyscrapers (the highest building in my town is the courthouse which is about 93 feet tall), no “escort service”, no revolving doors, not a single escalator and only one elevator in my little town. Plus, I might actually say “Hi” to people I pass on the street – though don’t count on it.
Awful, just awful, isn’t it? Can they even spell B O R I N G in New York?
Keep in mind that I live in a rural area of Ohio, where a shopping trip to Wal-mart is considered entertainment and eating dinner at KFC or Burger King is considered a night out, especially if you have those dollar dippers with the hot sauce at KFC – or the new double-mini-whopper with hot peppers at Burger King. Talk about walking on the wild side. New York ain’t got nothing on us!
The big local hangouts for those under thirty are the” BW3″ and “Ollie’s” and I’m not kidding! For most of us small-town folk over thirty, the sidewalks roll up at dark – and this time of year the it gets REALLY REALLY DARK, REALLY EARLY. A “New Yorker” I’m not. But, you know what? As boring as my life is, I like it and that’s all that matters to me. I’m not made for revolving doors, hot dog carts, and Orange Julius. I sure don’t have $15,000 to pay an Escort Service.
And even if I did, the only escort service we have in my little town is at the local car repair shop. We don’t have those kinds of “Escorts” here. I think the nearest revolving door is in Cleveland – but I’m not sure they are there anymore either since the downtown department stores have all gone belly up and turned into Casinos. I don’t like hot dogs unless they are connected with a baseball game. And if Orange Julius lives in my town I am not aware of it. I’m sorry Julius. So, New Yorkers, I have a life even if you don’t think I do. I think therefore I do?
When I was a kid, midnight was a rather mysterious event. I only saw it once a year. And, you guessed it, that once a year was New Year’s Eve. I can remember thinking that strange things must happen at midnight. Ghouls and other creepies must awaken then to terrorize all those who venture out at that odd hour. But on New Year’s Eve, there are sooooooo many people awake at midnight. No doubt these millions were kept awake by the exciting showmanship of Lawrence Welk or Guy Lombardo, or whoever graced the television screens in those days – gosh, I’m showing my old age!
Perhaps the lilting accent of Lawrence Welk or the squealing of Guy Lombardo’s orchestra’s muted trumpets kept the goblins and ghosties at bay. Lawrence Welk? Guy Lombardo? These annoying people no doubt kept Goblins and ghosts home on New Year’s eve, because when I went out at midnight to hear the neighbor shoot his 12-gauge shotgun at midnight, there were no scary things floating around in the air at all. Just a lot of noise.
New Year’s Eve was the only midnight hour I was ever allowed to experience. I could only assume that the spooky spirits resumed their nightly hauntings the following night and every night – except for New Year’s Eve. I was glad for that. Maybe secretly I was also glad for Lawrence Welk, although looking back, I find that difficult to believe.
Many nights, unbeknownst to my parents, I would awaken at 2:00 or 3:00AM (an ungodly quiet hour for a child) and in the winter I would wish for the furnace to come on to make some noise to mask the sounds of the ghouls and goblins I imagined were skulking in the night just outside my bedroom window. I had a transistor radio in those days too. A prized possession. But, in those days at 3:00AM there was nothing on the air but static (and occasionally WLS in Chicago which infrequently could be heard in my little town). That was fine. The furnace and the radio worked fine for masking the sounds of a child’s imagination.
Now, when people want some noise in the night so they can’t hear the goblins and ghouls and the guilt – they call it white noise. I guess they call it white noise because it’s meant to blot out the dark things?
In the summer, though, the transistor radio’s static was the only noise I could find to mask the sounds of creepy things; we had no air conditioning – no one I knew did. I used to stick the thing (the transistor radio!) under my pillow and listen to the static unless WLS was coming in clearly that night. I’d fall asleep to the static, certain that unimaginable creatures lurked furtively in the quiet hours of the night and making weird noises just trying to scare little boys like me. I actually liked the sound of the furnace better than the static, though. But, both served their purposes. They masked the sounds of the dark and fearsome things that stalked all children who dared to be awake in those wee adult hours of the morning.
Yes, indeed midnight is a strange thing to a child with a wild and unbridled imagination. Even so, getting to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve was a treat back then.
I’m grown-up now. I’m old. My childhood just a memory. Midnight is just another hour. No creepy weird things floating just outside my window anymore. No specters, no ghosts, no apparitions; no mysteries at all – just the silent darkness in the quiet hours – alone with my grown-up thoughts, regrets and worries. Maybe those are ghosts and goblins of a different kind.
These days we don’t have to subject our children to Lawrence Welk, Guy Lombardo, or whoever entertained my grandparents and parents (and bored me to death) in those days. For a long time we had Dick Clark and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” – although Dick is now dead and can’t be with us anymore; we get a poor imitation of Dick Clark now. Most people who watch it have no clue who Dick Clark was, what “American Bandstand”, and probably don’t care. They just want “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve”. Well, whatever makes them happy!
Speaking of Dick Clark, and no disrepect for the dearly departed, there was something unnatural about someone who was 75 and looked 35. Do they really make make-up that good? Where can I buy it? Who makes it? Could I afford it?
We have giant apples, or balls or whatever, falling down poles in Times Square where zillions of people jump around and grin as the camera pans the crowd – all, seemingly, with nothing better to do than watch a big globe glide down a pole and pronounce one year has ended and another year has begun. Now give us a kiss.
I am amazed that millions watch this on TV. Even my friends and acquaintances watch the this crazy ritual. Where’s the remote? What’s on the History Channel? What’s on Discovery? What’s on PBS? Spare me New York, Times Square, and the big apple. New Year’s Eve? Bah Humbug!
Not to be outdone by New York, there’s a little town not far from me called Port Clinton. And it’s quite a raucous place in the summertime, full of yuppies, would-be yuppies, old men in red convertibles looking for young ladies to assuage their aging egos.
But in the winter, it’s freezing, damp, nearly deserted, and quiet. An awful place , really. It’s one redeeming quality in winter is that it is QUIET. I had to shout that out. It’s quiet, that is, until New Year’s Eve. Port Clinton is in close proximity to the Lake Erie Islands (Kelley’s, Put-In-Bay, Rattlesnake, Middle Bass, Pelee, et. al) and hence it’s a summertime hotspot (no pun intended) for boaters, party-animals, and anyone who seeks a wild, semi-uninhibited time on the wild, jumpin’ islands smack-dab in the middle of Lake Erie.
In case you are wondering, there are no nude beaches on the Lake Erie, at least not on the U.S. side. Our Canadian friends on the north shores of Lake Erie are more open-minded and may have some nude beaches, but I don’t know. Perhaps some of you Canadians who live in close proximity to Lake Erie could let us know – not that I would ever go to one. I don’t want to be mistaken for a beached whale.
Anyway, back in Port Clinton, Captain Wylie Walleye descends on a pole each New Year’s Eve, much like the ball in New York. And the residents of Port Clinton, gather to watch a Walleye (cleverly named “Captain Wylie Walleye”) glide down a pole at midnight. A Walleye is a fish. It is a fish that attracts a great many fisherman to Lake Erie, particularly the Western Basin. Somehow, no matter how odd this sounds to you, I’d rather watch a six hundred pound, fiberglass Walleye named Captain Wylie Walleye glide down a pole in Port Clinton, in the bitter winter winds the blow in from Lake Erie (surrounded, no doubt, by non-cool people like myself) than I would watch a fiberglass, glass, or crystal, apple or ball or whatever they use now, slink its way down a pole in Times Square. I’d be so lost in New York City surrounded by all those beautiful people, most of whom will be totally snookered by the time the apple/ball whatever begins to fall. Heck, I’d even rather watch “the pickle” drop in Dillsburg, Pa. You think I’m kidding about the pickle and the walleye, but I’m not. You can look it up. Doubt me, will you!
I’ll be watching the Twilight Zone Marathon on Science Channel on New Year’s Eve. I rather doubt I’ll be awake when the clock strikes 12. I’ll be honest with you: I’d rather watch a TV test pattern than watch all those silly people canoodling and cavorting in New York watching a ball/apple/globe slide slowly down a pole. Or does it go up? Seems such a downer if it slides down. Not a good portent for the new year, I’d say!
Hey, it’s my boring life and I can do any boring thing I want!
I might go walk around in Rural King before they close. Or I might just splurge and go grab a pizza.
I just learned, too late, that no apple glides down the pole in New York. And I’ve learned that ball is made of crystal. How quaint. A crystal ball. I see freezing people in my crystal ball! They should have taken the money they spent on the “crystal ball” and fed some of New York’s hungry kids. I bet for what that ball cost they could have fed a lot of them.
No matter what you choose to do on New Year’s Eve, it’s fine with me. I’m perfectly happy with my boring little life in my boring town.
I got it! I’ll grab some Dei Fratelli Salsa (you should try it!), some fresh white corn tortilla chips, and swig down a couple of Diet Pepsi’s (now without aspartame!) while watching the “Twilight Zone” marathon. If I get tired of watching dozens and dozens of Rod Serling intros, maybe I’ll just read a good David Baldacci or Nelson DeMille book. One thing I will bet you… I’ll bet any money I’m asleep on the couch before midnight (unless I have to go to the bathroom from all the Diet Pepsi!) The New Year will be waiting when I get up. I won’t have a hangover, that’s for sure. Nor will I have any embarrassing memories. At least, I hope not!
Looking at the big picture, as they like to say, it seems that some people just need an excuse to party. New Year’s Eve and Saint Patrick’s Day come to mind as some of the best excuses to revel in excess. How much does the good Saint Patrick have to do with Saint Patrick’s Day? I’m almost certain he didn’t invent green beer or any other color of beer. But, if you want to party, go ahead. Any day will do. You don’t need to have your party affirmed by the masses do you? Grab a bottle and go wild – you don’t need the approval of St. Patrick or the swilling zillions in Times Square. Be your own person! Party Hearty!
Whether you decide to watch the ball drop on TV or go to New York to watch it (heaven forbid). Or if you choose to venture to Port Clinton to watch the walleye fall into the new year, you’ll still get up the next day, on January 1st, in the New Year and realize that the “Holiday Season” is over and it’s back to normal until next December.
To me that’s kind of sad. It seems like the best thing about waiting for anything is the anticipation of it. Most of the time when it finally comes or we finally get what we have waited for, it’s never as good as we expect. Maybe having isn’t as good as wanting.
To me, New Year’s Eve brings with it the morose thought that I’m one year closer to my own demise. Certainly not something I want to celebrate. I mean who likes to dwell on their own mortality? Who needs to be reminded? Not me! Yet New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day often find me contemplating my very own end of days.
While I’m a big fan of Christmas, I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve. It’s too noisy and phony for me. Scientifically the earth has made one more trip around the sun. The date of “New Year’s Day” was arbitrarily assigned by man. Different cultures and different religions have different dates for New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve? Bah! Humbug!
If you are a New Year’s Eve fan – hey, that’s great. If you want to grab your pointed party hat, hoo-hoo horn, streamers, confetti, Glenfiddich and spring water – and festively honk and party your way into the New Year, that’s wonderful! More power to you! I just wont be hoo-hooing with you.
And, if you’re one of the ones who feel left out of it all; out-of-synch with the masses as you gaze upon the beautiful people with their permasmiles flashing – hooting and hollering in Times Square or partying in Beverly Hills – just think of me. I’ll be having a quiet New Year’s Eve here in my little boring town. I will give “New Year’s Eve” as little thought as possible.
One more thing: As boring as it will seem to many who probably feel sorry for me by now, I will enjoy it. I will enjoy it as much as any other relaxing evening. And just maybe there’s more people like me than I think. And if so, perhaps we are the majority who think New Year’s Eve is more hype than substance – just another lame excuse to party. Maybe it’s really not so much of the celebration of a new year as it is an excuse to act silly.
New Year’s Eve is just another day in my boring life. But, my boring life is just how I want it to be.
Happy New Year to you. May all your dreams come true in 2018.