Housatonic — So what if New Year’s Day’s passed me by. I’m not sure what the Edge’s production schedule will be, but when you’re trying to write, and an idea floats up from the depths of the creative part of your brain, you have to seize it and get on with it. Quoting an old Kingston Trio song, “the subject is most interesting, but rhymes are mighty tough.”
My New Year’s celebrations, and maybe yours as well, have evolved either as a function of your way of thinking or from lessons well-learned over the years.
There were the early college years when I’d drive “over the hill” to the Elm Tree Inn. At least, I think that was the scene of the crime, but the name of the joint isn’t important. Bringing your own bottle, or bottles, was probably the place’s chief attraction. Maybe that way, if you had a terrible car crash on the way back to Massachusetts, the bar could say truthfully it hadn’t served you any alcohol.
In our young-adulthood, the Bacchanalia moved back into Massachusetts to uninhibited celebrations, perhaps to Falcons Hall, the Egremont Country Club, or the Vets. At any one of these parties, you imbibed your way past any sense or inhibition, danced yourself into a good lather, and got to kiss your neighbor’s wife at midnight.
House parties, continuing our slow evolution toward more civilized-seeming celebrations, were usually pretty much the same, excepting the uninhibited, no, make that crazed, perspiration-inducing dancing. Instead, the alcohol freed your conversation toward deep, almost existential matters you unloaded on a blinking, nodding, listener who, given the circumstances, and having the ability to walk a straight line, would much rather have been somewhere else and fled the scene. On the way home, you’d imagine how understated, wan, and deep-thinking you’d been.
The last couple of years, we “partied” at my friend Dick’s. We might have had one Bourbon on ice or perhaps a polite glass of wine, before a splendid covered-dish dinner. Following the feast, we’d adjourn to Dick’s living room, where three or four plush sofas and easy chairs faced the hearth. Dick had built a perfect fire, not blazing up the chimney nor reposing as a bed of coals, but like one you might see on television, glowing and warm with a few flickers of flame.
The fire, as even the most picturesque fires will, warmed the room as well as bejeweling it. We were all asleep, or at least drowsing, by 10 o’clock. So we, in turn, awakened our significant others and headed home, always ferried by a designated driver. If we did see the ball drop, it was from an easy chair in our own living rooms, provided we partiers didn’t fall asleep again.
This year our evolution continues. We have 6 o’clock dinner reservations at the Brick House where we’re planning to enjoy both a sumptuous dinner as well as some quiet, and probably lucid, conversation around the table. After all these years of knowing each other, we will have plenty to say and be able to say it minus slurred words, mid-sentence gaps in the memory, or unsettling hiccups. We’re going to meet at Lou’s and walk the couple of hundred yards to our destination.
We all plan to be home around eight.
Mary Ellen, who usually wakes me up so we can toll in the New Year together, is pretty sick, so there’s a pretty good chance instead of my ringing in 2015 with champagne, I’ll enjoy a steaming cup of rich, dark, Belgian cocoa. If I remember, I might even pick up a can of Ready Whip to make the whole thing even jollier.
Regardless of the manner in which you choose to bring in the New Year, nor how many resolutions you make, keep, or let drop by the wayside, I’ll still like you just the way you are.