Is not making any New Year Resolutions actually a resolution in itself? I am making a statement that I refuse to make a list of small and large things I could do to make me a better person. Instead, I decided to just be a better person and leave it at that. I was thinking about all this on New Year’s Eve sitting around home — alone, except for the cats, of course. It was really quite pleasant. There was good jazz on the French radio station — I only listen to the French station because when the news comes on, I don’t understand so I don’t get all down. Needless to say I was drinking wine and nibbling crackers and guacamole while contemplating the “old year” and thinking about the “new one”. Earlier that day, I had left my swimsuit, towel, water shoes and swim cap in the locker room — in different locations. Was that a sign of my wanting to rid myself of 2015 or a sign of serious fading of memory? Actually, I think I was just in too much of a hurry so I was more intent on not having Leith wait for me and happily receiving New Year wishes from Nancy. Whatever the reason, it was a lesson learned since it is costing me a lot of money to refit myself for the pool.
Anyway, there I was on New Year’s Eve, feeling ok in my solitude, when the radio station starts playing, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”. Ah, it’s one of those songs that gets me all mushy romantic and floods my otherwise practical Capricorn brain with my young girl longings. (You should see me when I hear Paul Anka singing, “Put Your Head on My Shoulder.” I am right back to being that sighing, in-love teenager, babysitting for the Elleges and swooning enough at him on the TV to forget to worry about the hamsters escaping from their cages.) Back to the New Year’s Eve song, I have memories of listening to on the Lawrence Welk Show — yes, folks, there was a time when my family watched the bubbles bubbling on a weekly basis. For that song, there would always be a girl-boy skit where girl would be pining and boy would be hoping. I was a sucker for these kinds of songs. As a teenager, I thought that truly having a date on New Year’s Eve must be the absolute most romantic, most thrilling, most stomach-flipping experience for a girl. Of course, this girl had not had any dates so maybe going with a guy for fries at the Beverly Drive In up the street, would have been just as thrilling. Who knows?
But when I heard that song last Thursday, it brought back all the memories of the time I had my first going-out date for New Year’s Eve. I had been “dating” Ned (AKA Murmuring ex-Husband) for a few months. “Dating” is in quotes because I certainly thought of it as that but I’m not sure he did. Anyway, I was so young and naive and ready to be “loved” — another set of quotes — that when he asked me to go out with him on New Year’s Eve my little heart pitter-pattered in my chest and my stomach flipped a little. I was only 19 after all. A girl is entitled to those little thrills, eh? When the big night came, my sister, Nancy, let me wear one of her going-out-dancing dresses. It was a short, black, lacy number — just sexy enough but more sophisticated than anything. I looked good. When Ned arrived to pick me up, I asked him where we were going. He said he didn’t make reservations. When I asked, “Why not?” He answered, “Hey, I came back here early to take you out. Isn’t that enough?”
So we spent a lot of the evening driving around and around in his cold, red, VW Beetle, looking for a restaurant that had a table. This was not my vision of how my first New Year’s Eve date was supposed to play out. After eating, we drove around some more and I started worrying that I’d be ringing in the New Year in the front seat of his car swatting his hand away from my legs. Then I saw the sign for The Desert Inn. “Let’s try there,” I said. I knew it by reputation as a place my older sisters went when they dressed up to go out dancing. There would be a live band and a crowded dance floor — perfect for New Year’s Eve. We got in somehow and as the countdown sounded, I was on the dance floor and giving Ned the kind of kiss I had always imagined was required for New Year’s. He was surprised and then I was embarrassed. And that was it.
The more New Year’s Eves that passed and the more parties and dates that I went on the more I realized that the real thing never lived up to all the hype — or even that song. So I started just hanging around at home — fixing a good dinner, making sure there was enough chilled wine for the night, and, in honor of my years in Spain, that I had my 12 seedless-grapes to eat as the ball dropped. While she was still living, I’d call my mother at midnight because I knew she would be awake — now I just yell Happy New Year to the cats who ignore me. It’s a good way to welcome a new year — with or without resolutions.