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Overrated

New Year's Eve is our most overrated holiday. This may well be a minority opinion. Millions of people around the world think the looming midnight is a terrific occasion for partying, an excuse for excess merriment, the near-legalization of buffoonery.

But it's actually amateur night. People who don't enjoy bubbly drinks nonetheless choke them down glass after glass and then look for someone to kiss at midnight. (In most cases. In my case, girls used to wait until midnight and then Mace me.) And when the countdown to midnight is over, someone plays "Auld Lang Syne" on the jukebox: "We'll drink a cup of kindness yet for Auld Lang Syne," or, in modern English, "... for times gone by." And then the drunks get all weepy.

Please: a cup of kindness? Kindness? If I'm going to drink anything to commemorate times gone by, it's going to be three fingers of tequila with a shaker of salt and fresh-cut lemon wedges in easy reach. And I'm not going to be wearing a paper hat with a rubber band wrapped under my chin to hold it on.

New Year's resolutions are our most overrated tradition. People vow to quit smoking/quit drinking/quit smoking crystal meth/lose weight/be a nicer person. As if. Notice how no one talks about New Year's resolutions much past, say, Jan. 10. And if they *do* talk about their resolutions, it's because they're succeeding, in which case, their self-satisfied, sanctimonious salutes to themselves deserve an elbow to the teeth. "Oh, I'm sorry. My New Year's resolution was not to put up with jerks this year."

Looking back, my most memorable New Year's Eve is one I barely remember. It was 1974, and I had yet to discover that New Year's Eve is a sham. I was, I am ashamed to say, an amateur. The festivities involved a punch a friend made for a New Year's Eve party. It was his grandfather's recipe. This concoction was made with every liquor known on every continent, with the possible exception of Antarctica. It had so much alcohol in it that a spark of static electricity would have ignited it like a space shuttle booster. They could have used it in hospitals to inject into people whose hearts had stopped. One shot of this and the dead would come back to life, tap-dancing. My friends were sensibly nursing their glasses of it, and I was gunning it down: "Six! Seven!" I don't know when the hammer fell, but all I remember is one minute I was inside the house at the party, and the next minute, I was outside in a car, woozily realizing that I had never been drunk enough to see double, but here I was seeing triple. It felt like I was aboard the astronauts' training centrifuge, a world of roll, pitch, yaw and terrifying G-forces.

I actually had fun one New Year's Eve, though. This night occurred a decade later and involved my favorite bar, my wife, our best friends, a couple of my sisters and a bunch of their friends, the abuse of noisemakers as The Who's song "Who Are You" rattled the jukebox, and an ungodly amount of money spent on "champagne" splits, their plastic stoppers popping and flying around the barroom, bouncing off the ceiling in dangerous-to-the-eyes fashion. I didn't get up the next day until 5 in the afternoon.

"But wait," you're saying. "Didn't you say earlier that New Year's Eve is amateur night? Well, then, what kind of behavior was *that*?" To which my scornful reply is, "Please. We had turned pro by then."

But once you turn pro, you quit going out for New Year's Eve celebrations. It's best not to get in the amateurs' way.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
lancaster1250
Jan. 1st, 2011 02:16 pm (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly. Always insightful with flashes of humor (or perhaps the other way around).
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 1st, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC)
Just playin' around, Brett.

I hope you have good luck, good health and good fortune in 2010.
vivitalia
Jan. 1st, 2011 05:37 pm (UTC)
Funny, my friends and I had almost this exact discussion last night. The bar we usually frequent (and close down, most nights) was cramped to the rafters with those very amateurs: abusing our buddy Scotty the bartender, ordering stupid froufy drinks and guzzling them loudly with much noisemaking, artificial and otherwise. We left relatively early in disgust. Maybe we're getting old and crotchety, but I think the best part of most New Year's Eves is the going to bed afterward.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 1st, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
It's funny how quickly it comes on: the realization that while you're not that much older than the amateurs, chronologically, you are in many ways much, much more—what's the word I'm looking for?—experienced.
nodressrehersal
Jan. 1st, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
*toot* *fweep*
It's hard to believe there were no moose summoned with the incredible noise-maker skills employed that night.

Do I recall a rather expensive coffee-filters-as-party-hats fashion statement that night as well, or was that before turning pro?
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 2nd, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
Re: *toot* *fweep*
I had forgotten about the coffee filters. Sort of a tan, weren't they? But I never had the sense then or afterward that we were out of control that night. However, the coffee gap anecdote may indicate large holes in my memory.
nodressrehersal
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
Re: *toot* *fweep*
Tan, circular, and with accordion-pleated edges - very snappy. Out of control only in the sense of having too much fun. Kiddo was just saying he wishes he could recall things the way you do; his holes are bigger than yours.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
Re: *toot* *fweep*
I had lunch with a couple of Olean High classmates on Thursday, and they were talking about things I had long forgotten. So I'm sure Dick remembers things that are lost in my personal oblivion.

'Bout time for lunch or dinner for the four of us in Ellicottville, don't you think?
nodressrehersal
Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:41 am (UTC)
Re: *toot* *fweep*
I do. (sorry for the edit - I hit "send" too soon!)

Hubby is recovering from some minor surgery (that has turned out to be less minor than we were prepared for) right before Christmas, so time will determine when he's up to a road trip.

Edited at 2011-01-02 01:44 am (UTC)
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 2nd, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
Re: *toot* *fweep*
Please tell Dick that Sherry and I hope he recovers quickly and completely.
nodressrehersal
Jan. 2nd, 2011 02:21 am (UTC)
Re: *toot* *fweep*
Will do - thanks!
behindpyramids
Jan. 2nd, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
Well said, sir.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 2nd, 2011 05:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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