Wednesday, December 31, 2008


We holed up in his room, John and I, as we had the year before, with only the light from his cheesy duck lamp (named Howard, of course) and the soft glow of the cathode ray tube, into which we gazed. Dad had gone to bed, and Mom was downstairs, finishing the crossword puzzle in the paper before she joined him.

No champagne, no refreshments or snacks of any kind, just a willfully ironic celebration of the very idea of a new year having any significance. After all, what could be a bigger joke than watching New Year's Rockin' Eve? What could be a more trivial, more demeaning way of celebrating the coming of a new decade than to spend the evening with The Village People and Barry Manilow, to say nothing of our hosts, John Schneider and Erin Moran? Erin Fucking Moran--seriously?

The festivities were delayed by five minutes as Frank Reynolds hosted his nightly update on the hostage crisis in Iran, making sure to inject some veiled right-wing politics into his ostensibly objective report, and then we went right to Dick Clark standing in Times Square, the cameras prowling the grimy, beaten-down streets of Manhattan in the last moments of the seventies, and I thought, Good God, is Grease going to run forever?

Dick threw it to the pre-taped studio segments, and the performers lip-synched like good performing monkeys, and Debbie Harry's miming of Dreaming was so bad she seemed to be doing it on purpose, and Erin Fucking Moran was as vacant as expected, and John Schneider--who performed a number himself, unfortunately--seemed like a fountain of charisma by comparison.

And Dick did the countdown as the ball dropped, and every commercial David Naughton sang and danced about being a Pepper, and they cut to live feed of Manilow doing Just Another New Year's Eve, which apparently was some sort of tradition. And the performing monkeys did their thing some more, and we cut back to a now flaccid Dick in Times Square after the party had passed him by, and John Schneider and Erin Fucking Moran wished us goodnight and happy new year.

Then WOI signed off the air, the Thought For The Day followed by the usual ISU promo film followed by the National Anthem. John and I shrugged, made some final sarcastic comments and I went to bed, spending these first moments of a whole new decade listening to the wind howl through the trees, wondering what I was supposed to feel.