I was at the upscale pet food store at the mall earlier today to nail down a bag of the fancy frozen raw venison chunks with which we spoil our cats at dinnertime. (The store only stocks one or two of these a week. Not many cat owners as nutsy as me out there.)
No one else was in the store yet. I had two young male clerks entirely at my disposal. “Happy Holidays,” they chorused as I paid.
“Thanks, but I take the ‘bah, humbug’ approach,” I said, putting on my agent provocateur hat. “Now that my kids are grown with kids of their own, and all of them are somewhere else, I’d just as soon pass on the holidays. I’ve mailed out the presents. I’m ready for January 2.”
One of the clerks — the taller, cuter one — laughed. “I don’t care about Christmas either, ” he said. “But I can’t wait till New Year’s Eve.”
Cuteness shouldn’t count but it does, so I was conciliatory. “Well, you’re a guy. But I always dreaded New Year’s Eve because it meant going to parties where you had to be kissed at midnight by men you’d rather not be kissed by.”
They both were kind enough to laugh again. (Clearly they had nothing better to do until another customer showed up.) Encouraged, I went on: “So all those New Year’s Eves have run together in my mind and I can specifically remember only two. One was in 1949, before you were born, when my boyfriend took me to a party at friends of his parents to admire a small black-and-white television set, the first any of us had seen. We all sat around on bridge chairs in front of it, with the lights out, as if it were a shrine. Holding hands in the dark was nice, though.”
My mentioning 1949 must have silenced them, allowing me to continue. “And the second was in 1959 when we were all toasting Fidel Castro for having come down from the Sierra Maestra to bring democracy to Cuba. A lot we knew. The midnight kissing at that party wasn’t so great either. But all the thousands and thousands of other New Year’s Eves in my life? Nada! Gone with the wind!”
Tall and cute tried to top me. “I went to one a couple of years ago where I drank so much I got sick right at the party and vomited all over myself, the couch, somebody’s shoes, the rug…..” He chuckled in happy reminiscence. (And this is the guy who can’t wait to ring in 2015.)
“Well, there you go,” I said, feeling we’d now run the subject into the ground and it was time to leave. “When you’re in your eighties, you’ll have at least one good New Year’s Eve story to tell!”
The idea of being in their eighties was even funnier than the vomit. Merry peals of laughter followed me out the door.
But you all have yourself a real good holiday. And never mind grumpy old us. We’ll be having one, too. Only our way.