Monday, December 31, 2012
New Year's Eve - Old Guy Style
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Monday, December 31, 2012.
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
It’s New Year’s Eve. Pardon me if I don’t get too excited. I think it might be an age thing.
As someone firmly ensconced in their mid-50’s, I’m not exactly ready for the title of senior citizen (at least, not chronologically speaking). But if the way I celebrate the arrival of the New Year is indicative of my current status, then I can’t possibly be far away from being classified as “old”. I believe I’ve officially passed “sad” and am approaching “pathetic”.
Truth be told, I’ve never been a big partier. My teens and early 20’s were hardly a testament to the pleasures of excess in anything but food. Sure, I had my share of alcoholic beverages in those days – after all, the drinking age was 18 then. But I was married at 21, a parent at 23, and “celebration” was not exactly a high priority except at birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
Still, we managed to have some fun. We would have New Year parties at our home, starting after the kids had gone to bed. We managed to be festive while still making sure they stayed asleep, but it was difficult to keep our many unmarried friends who did not have children coming back. It’s funny how your range of active friends is affected when you start having children.
So we started inviting people who – like us – had young kids. All that really accomplished was generating a larger crowd of tired people who cared more about keeping the kids asleep than celebrating. Boy, were they boring. I was sure it was them, and not us.
Watching the ball drop in Times Square has been a big deal since I can first remember. I was hooked the first time my parents let me stay up for the big event. I’m not sure if Dick Clark was the host that first evening (I can’t believe they are still using his name), but the magic of the lights and the electricity of the crowd guaranteed I would always think of this as the official way to usher in the New Year.
But as I have gotten older, the emphasis has changed from gearing up to watch the ball drop, to simply trying to stay up to watch the ball drop. Not only has my intake of alcoholic beverages dramatically decreased, but the beverages themselves have changed. No more beer – it no longer sits very well in my stomach. Hard liquor and I have never really gotten along, unless the drink containing it also has a fair amount of fruit juice and an umbrella.
So these days I start off with wine, and not exactly the top-of-the-line vino. I grew up on my grandfather’s homemade stuff, and that forever shaped my taste in this area. So my beverage of choice tends to come in a jug rather than a bottle and cost less than ten dollars. At least I’m a relatively cheap date.
For the last few years we have volunteered to babysit our grandson (did I mention his name is William?) so his parents could go out and enjoy the evening. That is much more our speed, and truth be told they have been among the best New Year’s Eves of our lives. We take him out to eat with some of our friends, enjoy a fun dessert, then put him to bed and do our best to stay up. We often fail miserably on the last part.
This year he will most likely be spending the night at his own home. And our granddaughter will be with her family many hours to our south. This is the way it should be, the natural order of things.
So we are once again likely left to our own devices, celebrating in the staid and stodgy style that has become our custom over the four decades we have been together. But at the end of this evening, I get to fall asleep (even if it is a tad early) next to the woman I love and who for some strange and unfathomable reason continues to loves me back.
There sure as heck are a lot of worse ways to usher in 2013. Happy New Year, good readers.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.