Sunday, December 31, 2006

Forget those wild partying ways of yore

Brian Cormier
HUMP DAY
Published 2006-12-27, Times & Transcript, Page D9

Christmas is over. The malls that had been silent for the past couple of days are abuzz again with rabid shoppers hoping for post-holiday bargains and teenagers eager to spend their Christmas money on clothing and electronics.

Now, everyone's attention is turning to the next "gotta-be-perfect" holiday, New Year's Eve. This year, however, my strike against New Year's Eve is still in effect.

In my younger days, New Year's Eve was what it is traditionally known to be for most people with a taste for the bubbly: a drunkfest.

Like most people, I would get together with friends and we would party into the wee hours of the morning. By the time midnight rolled around, most of us were three sheets to the wind and could barely remember our own name and gender let alone take a thoughtful look back on the past year and contemplate how we wanted to spend the next 12 months.

New Year's Eve was definitely a time to let loose. While Christmas was strictly for family, New Year's Eve was definitely for friends . . . and booze. So when the clock struck 12, the drunken hugs started with verbal professions of normally never-said friendly affection making their rounds.

"I love you, man . . . I really do . . . you're great . . ." one friend would say, an arm drunkenly draped over another's shoulders. Of course, that's a translation. What really came out was just a bunch of garbled and slurred words. But somehow, no translations were needed at midnight on New Year's Eve because we all spoke Drunkenese.

And, of course, there was always a crier at every party . the buddy who got way too drunk for his own good. The minute someone said something even slightly mushy to him, he would break down into a flood of tears so unstoppable that you'd think he was standing over his own mother's casket just as they were ready to close the lid for the last time. "Someone told me I had a nice shirt! Waaaaaaah . . ." This went on for years.

Then people started getting married, moving away, having kids and creating new traditions.

Today, much to the chagrin of my former 20-year-old self, my New Year's Eves have become the perfect opportunity to stay home, slip on the bunny slippers, sit on the couch with an afghan over my lap, put in the hair curlers, slap on a face full of Oil of Olay and watch a good movie. This would be done with apologies to my 20-year-old self, who would certainly be ashamed because I clearly remember giving friends permission way back when to shoot me if I ever hit my 40s and just wanted to stay home on such a socially important evening as New Year's Eve.

Now that I'm here, however, I really don't mind. After all, with the stress of Christmas out of the way, I'm quite looking forward to letting others stress and worry about making their New Year's Eve the best ever. I put all my efforts into Christmas now. I could care less about New Year's Eve these days, although I suppose I wouldn't say no to the right party offer if it came along.

Years ago, I remember that my parents always used to go out on New Year's Eve. Even New Year's Day was a big deal, with several parties and get-togethers going on here and there. As kids, we'd get up on New Year's Day morning to find the older cousin who'd been babysitting us asleep on the couch and my parents crashed in bed after a night of revelry and merrymaking.

There would be noisemakers and hats on the kitchen table for us, with strict instructions not to use the noisemakers until later in the morning when my parents would get up. There would also be leftover goodies from the inevitable "midnight buffet" the night before, including fancy rolled-up sliced ham. It didn't take much to thrill the Cormier kids. A slice of rolled-up ham with a toothpick through it was right up there with filet mignon in our books.

Of course, the noisemakers were too irresistible to leave there until my parents awoke, much to the chagrin of my mother, a wee thing who could likely get tipsy by sniffing vanilla extract.

"Bria-a-a-n . . ." I'd hear her call weakly from the bedroom on New Year's Day morning, my father still snoring beside her. I would go in to see what she wanted. And there she'd be, her face stained from black mascara tears that had rolled down the side of her face during sleep, her head shakily hovering over a makeup-streaked pillow. "Get Mummy an Aspirin and a glass of . . . milk . . ." she would manage to squeak.

No wonder she only drank one night of the year. I definitely inherited her hangover genes. I can barely drive by a liquor store without getting a headache.

Maybe one day I'll return to my old-time partying ways on New Year's Eve, I don't know. These days, though, I'm just as happy relaxing at home... just me and my Oil of Olay. No gifts to wrap. No shopping to be done. Just relaxation!

New Year's Eve these days has actually become a favourite of mine . . . a night for me. A night to treat myself to whatever I want to do... even go to bed early if I so choose. And if I could send a letter to my 20-year-old self, I'd say that it's perfectly OK and actually quite nice in an old fuddy-duddy kind of way.

So . . . Happy New Year! May 2007 be the year that makes you go "Wow!"

Happy New Year, everyone!

Hope you all have a wonderful 2007! I've already got one New Year's resolution down... to start my *()&@# blog!! Ha! Woohoo!