I’ll confess, I’m not a fan of New Year’s Eve. It feels too much like New Year’s Eve! ® to me, like if you aren’t having the best time ever, you’re a total loser. I thought I was alone in my lack of Auld Lang Syne enthusiasm, but it turns out, I’m wasn’t.
My first real New Year’s Eve with my now-husband was the usual–a frat guy style bash where I spent most of the evening getting beer spilled on me while drunk women invaded my personal space to tell me how amazing my date was. He’s soooooooo niiiiiiiiice. Thank you. Your inebriated assessment is reassuring. Women traditionally show sound character judgment when they’re three sheets to the wind.
Our second New Year’s Eve we went out for dinner, where he informed me that his two best friends had a bet going about whether we’d get engaged this year or next. He thought it would be funny to propose at midnight to ensure they’d argue the technicalities for the remainder of their lives. Knowing the two guys involved, they would. I was primed, ready for the ring. I couldn’t wait to say yes.
I opened my fortune cookie at the end of the meal.
You will be getting married soon.
It wasn’t midnight, but I guess he was excited. This is it, I thought.
“Who’s the lucky guy,” he said, without a trace of irony in his voice. His face was was blank. It’s a look I’ve seen our son wear on countless occasions. Apple, meet tree.
I know he is oblivious to what has just transpired. I thought he was going to propose any second, and instead he was asking the waiter for the check. I shouldn’t have been pissed off, but I was.
Senior Dude actually proposed a week later. I told him that I thought he was going to propose on New Year’s Eve. He said he didn’t want to be cliché. I told him that he was almost single. Then he explained that he hated New Year’s Eve, the forced joviality, the crowds and the noise, and I knew we were meant to be together.
In the years since we’ve tried a few times to change our New Year’s Eve malaise, but have learned that our best Eves have been the ones we spent at home, whether it was putting plastic insulation over our drafty sliding door, or binge watching episodes of The West Wing.
The other night, I was reading on the loveseat while the Dude sprawled across the sofa. He turned on a Modern Family marathon, and I put the book away, popped some popcorn and joined him. Very soon, Senior Dude wandered in, ousted the Dude from his seat after much wrestling and laughter, and we watched the television family grouse that all they did on New Year’s Eve was watch television and fall asleep.
My husband and I turned to each other and smiled. We’re normal enough to be a television family, except I don’t look like Sophia Vergara.
I looked over at the Dude and saw that blank look I love so much.
“You don’t have plans for New Year’s.” It wasn’t a question. I already know the answer.
“I’m stuck with you losers.” Strangely enough, he didn’t look too upset. I guess that apple really didn’t fall far from the tree.
I smile, and take a handful of popcorn. “Right back at you, Dude.”
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph “World Through a Shot Glass,” by Lisa Bunchofpants © 2006 Creative Commons