'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CELEBRATING NEW YEAR’S EVE
So, what are you doing tonight to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Going to Times Square? Attending some fancy party with tuxedos and evening gowns? Or are you going to sit on your couch wearing slippers and a bathrobe and try to stay awake until at least 10:30? Yeah, me too.
New Year’s Eve is a weird holiday. It’s the only holiday on the calendar which features alcohol consumption as an important part of the proper celebration. (Not counting, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, or the way I used to approach holidays when I was in my 20s, which was to feature alcohol consumption as an important part of the proper celebration of everything. “Hey, today is Flag Day! Let’s make some Bloody Mary’s for breakfast to celebrate!” or “Hey, today is that famous holiday, August 17th! Let’s make a batch of daiquiris to celebrate!”)
If you think I exaggerate, how many other holidays have articles in the newspaper each year offering tips on how to cure a hangover? Or how many other evenings of the year are referred to as “amateur night,” when people who aren’t used to drinking and driving will be menacing the highways? (As opposed to other nights of the year when you’ll encounter, presumably, only professional drunk drivers.)
There are four stages in a person’s life when it comes to celebrating New Year’s Eve. The first stage is when you’re a healthy young adult—and most importantly, before you start having children. At this point in your life, going to a party which begins at 11:30 p.m. and ends at, oh, about sunrise, is exciting and fun, rather than what it will be a couple of decades later, a painful punishment. (Judge: “I sentence the defendant to stay at a New Year’s Eve party until 4 a.m.” Me: “Noooo! Please, your honor, send me to prison instead!”)
The second stage is after you become parents, when you’re so worn out from raising small children that you can barely stay awake past 8 o’clock. During this stage you celebrate the holiday with your kids by watching a videotape of last year’s TV program (no one will know since Dick Clark’s appearance hasn’t changed in 40 years) and then having a big countdown to 7 p.m. (“…three, two, one! Happy almost New Year!!”). When your oldest child learns how to tell time and becomes suspicious, you simply explain, “Well, technically it is midnight…in Europe.”
The third stage of celebrating New Year’s Eve is the worst. This is when you’re still more than happy to have the big 7 p.m. countdown and get to bed at a normal hour, but now your kids are young adults (when did that happen?!) and they want to go to Stage One parties. With all the scary stories of “amateur night” racing through your head, you sit on the couch, wearing slippers and a bathrobe, and go into W.P.T.—Worried Parent Twilight—that state of mind which is not quite awake but not quite asleep, until they are safely home. This all-night vigil make you feel worse the next day than any hangover you had 20 years ago. (The newspapers should offer tips on how to cure a W.P.T. hangover.)
The fourth stage is the best. This is when your kids have kids of their own (and hopefully have moved out of your house), which means they’re safely settled into Stage Two, so there’s nothing to worry about (except the usual stuff: your health, death, Social Security, death, Medicare, death, prescription drugs, and of course, death). You can celebrate the holiday by going to the Early Bird Special at 4 p.m., and then capping off the evening by watching a rerun of Matlock at 6:30. Then, after a good’s night sleep (well, at least as good as your bladder will allow), you can visit your grandchildren the next day and teach them how to really celebrate this holiday: by watching 19 straight hours of parades and football games.
I can’t wait.
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