Saturday, January 1, 2011

Playing Adam to New Year's Eve.

Okay, then. The stained dry erase board of another lame duck year is finally wiped clean.

As Dr. Faux, I mean Dr. Phil, is fond of barking at teenage mom meth addicts, it's time to "pull ourselves up by the bootstraps" (insert authoritative Texas drawl here), and move on into 2011.

I don't really consider myself middle-aged anymore, since it's improbable that I'll live to be ninety-six, so from here on out, I'd like to be labeled as "accumulaged." This is the period in my life where stuff begins building up: Christmas ornaments, computers, belly fat, trips to the bathroom. I've even imagined a way to promote this golden, new era—"Try the new Tim. Now with a third more prostate tissue!"

One of the benefits of witnessing my forty-ninth New Year is the slow mellowing of New Year's Eve expectations. As a young adult, we all expected to have the party of the year—to sing, to dance and when the ball drops, to passionately engulf the face of either your soul mate or whomever was closest at the time.

New Year's Eve, 1984, was my watershed party experience. I'd had a girlfriend for about a year-and-a-half, and things weren't going so well. She suggested getting dressed up and going to Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle to usher in the new year, shoulder-to-shoulder with throngs of drunken strangers. After that, we'd hop in a cab, basking in the glow of a re-kindled, re-dedicated relationship.

It looked good on paper, so I reluctantly agreed. From our earliest days together, this girl had tried her best to transform me into a GQ cover guy. She pressed hard to rid my wardrobe of t-shirts and jeans; a trip to campus meant checking my loafers to make sure the pennies hadn't slipped out, popping my collar and tying a pastel colored sweater around my shoulders. My friends had teased me relentlessly, but I had brushed them off, lamely contending that she was "improving" me. I do wish, however, that they hadn't run into me buying that blow dryer at the drugstore.

Anyway, yes, I now realize—red flags, all. Relationships shouldn't be contingent upon one person "fixing" the other. And even then, I felt like a buffoon as we rode the cab downtown. It was freezing cold, but I was firmly instructed not to deviate from the winning polo shirt/ torso wrap combo. By the end of the evening, I could no longer feel my nipples. I was afraid they may have simply broken off after bumping into someone, and I'd find them the next day, looking like little pieces of turkey jerky in the waistband of my Jockey for Hims.

We each did our best to pretend to have a good time, but I think we both realized the absurdity and futility of our situation.

That night twenty-six years ago, I vowed to never immerse myself among a mob in an attempt at manufacturing fun. By the following year, my girlfriend had been replaced by a companion who's stuck by me, in the comfort of my own home, every New Year's Eve since:

Dick Clark.

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