Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Do We Really Need To Celebrate New Year's?

With another year coming to a close, I've been sifting through my memory banks of past New Year's Eves and reminiscing on the good ones and the "What The Hell was I Thinking" ones from my past. I've decided the bad ones have won out in my recollections. I can use alcohol as an excuse, only in my adult years.

The earliest remembrances of New Year's Eve I have is of straining to stay up until Midnight with my older sisters and our baby sitting grandmother. Everyone would be watching Guy Lombardo and The Canadians usher in the new year on television. At the stroke of Midnight, we would run out on to the front porch and bang on a huge cooking pot with wooden spoons. What excitement, eh? Five minutes later, I was sound asleep. This apparently would become a trend of future celebration. Woo Hoo! Happy New Year! Ok, let's go to bed, I'm tired. I was not one of the original Party Animals.

New Year's Eves during my grade school years were pretty non-eventful. I recall a few sleep-overs at a friend's house. We would have pizza and play board games until the wee hours of the morning. This was before Mr. Microphone was invented, so I mean really, how much fun at a party could you have? We would make some obligatory crank phone calls to unsuspecting businesses or people. We even asked the classic question to a drug store," Do you have Prince Albert in a can? If you do, you better let him out before he suffocates!" Ba-Rump-Ba! Rim Shot please! We would just crack ourselves up! Thumbing through the phone book, I found the name of "some ethnic-type person" and called him. In my best "ethnic-type" voice I asked,"Is Louis there?" The man replied, "No. He went in The Service about six months ago!" I hung up and we rolled on the floor in laughter! I don't really know why we thought this was SO funny, but to this day, forty years later, when I see my friend who was my co-conspirator, I'll asked him if Louis is there. It STILL generates a laugh between us.

I think I was a freshman in high school when I went to a buddy's house for New Year's Eve with the parents gone for the night. There had to be a mix of twenty boys and girls. By Midnight, EVERYONE had "hooked up" with someone else, but me. Here's all these kids swabbing each other's tonsils and I'm sitting there pondering my obvious inadequacies. Did I have bad breath? Am I dressed funny? Is my teenage acne really that bad? I left the party extremely depressed and vowed to myself not to go to a party without a date again. It can scar a fifteen year old boy for life by seeing his friends score and he's left on the bench.

In my early 20's as a newly married adult, we went to a huge Buffet and Champagne Party at The Youngstown Country Club. This was open to the public and heavily advertised in the local paper. Riff-Raff from every walk of life attended this party. We had gone with several other couples and I was trying to keep up with the guys on consuming my fair share of the free booze. I've never been known as a heavy drinker. Hell, let's face it, I was a light-weight. Within an hour and a half, I was totally Snookered! I passed out with my head on our table before the food was even served. I'm sure the food would have helped me with the absorption of alcohol. I had drunk on an empty stomach. A deadly sin of being able to handle hard liquor. I was carted off by my friends to the back seat of the car to sleep it off. Everyone else partied the night away while I was heaving my guts out through the window of some body's Monte Carlo. Another of life's lesson learned the hard way.

I always have wanted to go to Times Square in New York City for the famous Ball Drop on New Year's Eve. The closest I've ever come to that is The Great Walleye Drop at Port Clinton, Ohio on Lake Erie. It's a tongue-in-cheek take-off of Times square with a five foot Paper Mache fish lowered down a flag pole as the final seconds of the year are counted down. A huge heated tent is set up downtown with a live band entertaining the crowd. Unfortunately, the year I went was a total disaster. My date and I got a late start for the one hour drive and had to park about a mile away from the event. The temperature with wind chill was MINUS 22 degrees and the wind was howling off the lake. By the time we reached the tent, it was completely full. People were shoved in there like cattle and no one could move. I'm not quite an Old Foogie yet, but I couldn't handle the Head-Banging Music the band was playing. We stood there for maybe five minutes, longing for some of the heat that we knew was inside that tent somewhere. A quick glance at each other confirmed our misery and we decided to leave. I think the only place we could find open was an Arby's fast food restaurant to get something to eat. Nothing but the best for my dates!

I celebrated the New Millennium at a party at the local Eagles Club. A nice dinner was served and each couple received a magnum of Champagne and commemorative glasses etched with "Happy New Year 2000" on them. Things were going pretty well until my girlfriend of a couple of years started to get a little tipsy. She began crying and telling me she wanted to go home. I asked what the problem was and she informed me she longed for her married internet lover in Texas! WHAT? I was clueless about this and thought things had ended between them before I was in the picture. Needless to say, I was deceived and honored her wishes and immediately took her home. For good.
What a great way to start the next one thousand years!

Given my track record for New Year's Eves, who can blame me for wanting to stay home. I can stay home and count my blessings for all that I do have and my family and friends that remain dear to me. I don't need to go out in public and make a spectacle of myself or others I am with. Given my unlucky past, it's bound to happen. Being the eternal optimist, NEXT year will be the best of my life!


  1. Oh Tom, you and New Year celebrations just don't mix! That is hilarious! Next year will be better! :)

    Garrison Keillor wrote a funny piece about being little and being allowed to stay up until midnight for the first time, getting all involved in a game of Monopoly and not noticing midnight came and went.

  2. I think that some friends and mine and I did do some crank calling. I seem to remember thinking I had fallen in love with some young thing of the female persuasion that I happened to call one of those times. I never did get up the nerve to ask her for her number (which I hadn’t paid attention to when I randomly dialed it. Oh well, another missed opportunity!

    Hmmm – Watching dead fish being tossed about in sub-zero temps to celebrate the New Year. Sounds like it would have been a good night to just sit back on the Sofa and watch the ball drop on TV.

    Tom – I do hope you will have a great year this year – and you should start planning NOW on how to make next year your BEST New Year’s ever!