I was never a big partier for New Year's Eve, but I do like staying up late (if I have the stamina) and saying hello to a new year. As I mused in an email to a friend earlier this evening (Hi, JS!) I'm amazed at how much my life has changed.
When I was a kid, my parents would go out with my aunt and uncle, and their kids would come to our house. My mom would purchase a wide array of junk food and soda, and we kids would glut ourselves on chips and candy and fizz until midnight, and then we'd ring bells and scream "Happy New Year" in the driveway until we were hoarse. One year my eldest sister made a banner with large, glittered, cut-out numbers taped to a broom handle, and we marched that up and down the street.
When I was a high-school dork, I'd take my glockenspiel outside and play Auld Lang Syne. Sometimes I'd hear Perry playing the same on his trumpet a few blocks away, but I was never good enough or fast enough to find the right key to join in, so I waited until he was done and took my turn.
New Year's Eve always used to involve champagne and dancing. Even in the years when I was grossly underage, I learned that working at a restaurant on New Year's Eve was the best way to enjoy a party with the grownups. It didn't matter if I was only 16, they still had champagne in the kitchen, and I always danced and sang to the music as I worked, so why should NYE be any different?
When I was 18-ish, the name du jour for only restaurant I ever worked in was called Schooner's Inn, and I was working New Year's Eve. That year was a bit of a blur. My mom and stepdad decided they were going to hang out at the Schooner's bar to ring in the new year. Well, golly gee. They bought a bottle of champagne. Between the glass they kept full for me at the bar and the glass Megan kept refilling for me in the kitchen, it's a wonder I wasn't staggering into patrons and dumping dishes all over the floor. I'm surprised my bosses didn't notice, but that may have been because they'd been hitting the champagne too.
When I was old enough to go out on NYE, I did. The local fire house didn't card too enthusiastically when I was 20, and as a bonus it proved to be an excellent first date. Really, what kind of pressure is it on a guy to have NYE as your first date? That, to me, is courage. It ranks right up there on the pressure scale as being taken to someone else's wedding. It turned out to be so much fun that JS and I went there the following year as well.
One of the most fun NYEs I ever enjoyed was '89 into '90. The Oracle had this fabulous group of friends of maybe 6 or 7 guys. Well, they're still his friends, but over time they all married and started families and all that good stuff. One of the already-marrieds and his wife, I'll call them The Inventors, rented a monstrous house at a ski resort (the name suddenly escapes me) in Vermont. There were probably 15-20 people in that house. We all brought food and had a great time together. The Oracle and I had every intention to go skiing since neither of us had ever tried it before, but on New Year's Day a huge ice storm coated the slopes, and the experienced skiers were coming back bloodied and bruised. We chickened out and put our culinary skills to use feeding everyone else.
It was during that weekend, when we stopped in at his aunt's, that The Oracle first seriously mentioned the notion of marriage, even though we'd only been dating a smidge over two months.
In most of the years since, we stayed home on NYE. Once V and B arrived any hope of partying came to a screeching halt. Little kids have a way of keeping you at home, and that's really all right with me. Now I look at NYE and I wonder, what's the hype? It's just a new calendar for Pete's sake, and I'm glad since I'm tired of the old one. I've become such a wimp, I'd probably be asleep twenty minutes after consuming a glass of champagne anyway. Never mind that I'd likely end up belching it all night and halfway through the Fancy Brigades tomorrow.
Ah, but I'd love a glass of bubbly right now. JS once defined champagne bubbles as "the fifth food group" (now the 6th, since they revamped that a few years ago), and he generously kept my diet well rounded with bubbles. It's a wonder I didn't drown or hiccup to death.
He taught me this little ditty, too, and I sing it every year when "the ball drops." It struck midnight as I was posting a contest entry on at (http://www.laughingalwayshelps.blogspot.com/) and it immediately came to mind.
(Sung to Auld Lang Syne. For you folks who cry every time you hear/sing Auld Lang Syne, this is an excellent alternative lyric.)
There was a man
His name was Lang
And he had a neon sign
And every time he turned it on
They called it Old Lang's Sign.