For Times Gone ByPosted by Fred
About the time I was entering my teens, I remember counting the decades on my fingers to figure out if I’d be alive in the year 2000 for the arrival of the new millennium. With the typical hubris that heralds the arrival of excess growth hormones and causes a kid to walk ten paces in front of his parents at the mall, I decided I’d probably still be here … but I’d be so bleepin’ old it wouldn’t matter. Well, I was and it does! It’s interesting how your perspective changes, depending upon which end of the telescope you’re looking through. Here I am with the millennium just a speck in my rear view mirror and I still feel an excitement about watching the mile markers zip by, especially on New Year’s Eve.
It wasn’t until after I graduated from home that I was able to grasp why so many people made such a big deal out of December 31st. As a kid, I didn’t have much to go on since my parents didn’t drink or party much … although, even for them, New Years Eve was sort of an exception. They used to concoct a thing they called a ‘highball’, which contained about seven ounces of ginger ale and a half-ounce of some sort of whiskey. I suspect this was the rye and ginger I discovered in later years and quickly replaced with scotch and soda. Anyway, as soon as I stopped falling asleep in somebody’s lap by 10 o’clock, they let me stay up to watch the famous ball drop at midnight in Times Square. For anyone from out-of-town, that’s in New York. Once I stuck a big toe into puberty, they presented me with full celebration rights … only I don’t think I ever got the full half-ounce of liquor.
In those days Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians were a fixture on everyone’s television, if they had one. I don’t know if they were actually royal or even Canadian but they were said to play, The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven. I never figured out how anyone knew that, either! At 12 o’clock sharp they’d play “Auld Lang Syne” while six or eight guys lowered a shimmering ball atop the Times Building (Allied Chemical after 1961), to the cheers of a seething mass of human gel in the street below. My family would clank glasses, kiss, and I would be told to stop nursing my drink and go to bed. Happy New Year, kid!
The formal Lombardo celebration lasted several more years until they couldn’t dust it off anymore. When something gets really dusty it’s either called a tradition, an antique, or it’s simply tossed aside. Elegant gowns and tight hairdos were tossed aside in favor of less formal attire and replaced with Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve … sort of a counterpoint to The Sweetest Music era. Now, after forty years of passing for “The World’s Oldest Teenager,” they’re having to dust off Dick Clark. Last year, he looked almost life-like!
Through all the changes and my own half-century odyssey from evenings with my folks, to large parties, small gatherings and finally quiet times with close friends, three things have remained constant on New Years Eve. We always watch the ball drop at midnight, everybody sings Auld Lang Syne and I’m still counting on my fingers. Oh, I’ve clearly made it past the new millennium but now there’s something even bigger and badder trying to come between me and centenarianhood. A calendar. Specifically, the Mayan calendar.
You may have heard … it runs out of days December 21, 2012 and many who study such events, in lieu of holding gainful employment, predict one of three things will happen. There will be a great apocalypse and the world will end; there will be a number of cataclysmic events but the world will not end; the Mayan calendar will just roll over like the odometer in your car, begin again, and nothing will happen. My own theory is that the poor dolt who created five thousand years worth of calendars in the first place developed a godawful carpal tunnel syndrome and had to stop writing.
I’m not ready to make a bucket list or anything, but just in case I’m wrong and the ‘woe-is-me’ crowd is onto something, Vigi and I are going make a point of enjoying the Times Square ball drop just a little more than usual this year … and at midnight sharp, after listening to some of The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven, we’ll “take a cup o’ kindness yet for Auld Lang Syne!” For anyone from out-of-town, that roughly means “Times Gone By.” (See last year’s 12/31 post, “A Cup O’ Somethingorother”)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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