Happy New Year: some melancholy and an early Valentine

    Noisemakers and drunken renditions of Auld Lang Syne are not everyone’s idea of a swell time. At least, they’re not among Chris Satullo’s favorite things, as he details in his weekly Center Square commentary.

    Listen: [audio: satullo20091227.mp3]

    The final night of the calendar year stares us in the face.

    So what type of overpriced, forced hilarity are you planning to endure?

    Of all the circled dates on the American calendar, New Year’s Eve is the most tedious.

    I’m just not a Dec. 31 type of guy. Party hats are not me. If you say to me, “Hey, let’s go out dancing,” what I hear is, “Hey, let’s go poke hot needles in our eyes, then attach electrodes to our earlobes.”

    Still, over the years I have dutifully tried various forms of New Year’s Eve merriment. Mostly, they’ve disappointed.

    If you go out to dinner, you get stuck with a limited menu, with a prix fixe that suggests the restaurant has mistaken you for a mogul at Goldman Sachs. The waiters are grumpy, because, hey, they’d rather be out somewhere in a party hat.

    One time my wife and I tried just staying home. We rented a movie, what we thought would be a pleasant rom/com, only to slip it into the VCR and discovered we’d mistakenly been given an offering called Faces of Death, a macabre mélange of scenes from accident scenes and official autopsies.

    Another time, we tried hosting our own party. Now Eileen and I usually throw a nice party, if I do say so, but this might have been the most melancholy gathering since Socrates quaffed the hemlock. Our friends all apparently stopped off at the hospital on the way over for a quick frontal lobotomy. I recall one person spent the whole glum night slumped on our couch, furiously working at a little pocket maze game I’d gotten in my Christmas stocking.

    Thinking it over, though, maybe I should just view these New Year’s Eve misadventures as some form of karmic leveling. Because, you see, it was on one particular Dec. 31 that the best thing in my life happened. On the last day of 1976, I had my first date with my wife. I was smitten. Eileen, unaccountably, was less quick to conclude I was The One. She even broke up with me late in 1977.

    But on New Year’s Eve 1977, we got back together, over dinner at a place called the Inn of the Unicorn. A mythical evening indeed.

    On second thought, Dec. 31 is one heck of a date. Enjoy it as best you can, then have a Happy New Year.

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