Dare To Join Me?
Though you’re reading this in the doom and gloom of January 09, I’m writing during a cold December night of 2008. In fact, at the moment, it is still a couple of weeks away from my most dreaded feast of the year – Christmas. Yes, you’ve guessed – I’m a grouch, and I hate Christmas with a passion – I think it’s overrated, I hate the lights that go up earlier and earlier every year, I hate how the media try to convince me that I will be a better person if I max out my credit cards to buy my family and friends useless gifts, I hate how charities, political parties, and every religious group on the face of the earth tries to guilt me into donating money just because it’s Christmas time, and I hate how everyone remembers to help the poor, the homeless, the abused, the tortured, and the unloved, only to forget about them as soon as the clock strikes twelve and the New Year rolls in.
As I said, Christmas is still a couple of weeks away, which means that I still have some time before everyone’s emotional stability reaches that of a bunch of rats in a lab. This year I am adamant not to give in to the Christmas pressure, which means that I will not hit the shops, I will not be guilt-tripped into anything, and I will not listen to Christmas carols even if my life depended on it. In other words, Santa can kiss my you know what, and watch me boycott Christmas for the rest of my life.
But then comes the New Year – a disruptive annual feast of no particular use to anybody save as an excuse for getting drunk and promiscuous. From weeks, if not months before, I hear the same question – ‘what are you doing for New Year’s eve?’ Why is it such a must to do something on New Year’s Eve? Isn’t huddling up in bed with a good book doing ‘something’? I remember one particular New Year’s Eve, not so long ago (if I may add), when I had to fight tooth and limb in order to get my mother to allow me to stay out until after midnight. My usual curfew used to be 10.30pm, and she just wouldn’t see the ridiculousness of this early clampdown on all outdoor privileges even on New Year’s Eve. I fought for those extra couple of hours using every rational and emotional weapon that came to me. I argued that only prison rules require lights out at 10:30pm, and that even if I was under house arrest, the state would probably grant me a special concession for New Year’s Eve. I finally resorted to stamping my feet and running away from home until she finally let up and granted me two extra hours. But they came with a host of terms and conditions attached – for starters these two hours had to be redeemed exclusively and entirely against that year’s New Year’s Eve event, I had to call home to take a sobriety test at least every half hour, and I also had to agree not to ever use the New Year’s Eve concession as a precedent on other normal days to come.
What’s really ironic is that after having worked so hard for those extra couple of hours, now, just a few years down the line, I would gladly give them back, or donate them to up and coming teenagers with ridiculous curfews. Clearly, the moment it stopped being prohibited, staying out late on New Year’s Eve lost its appeal, because I soon realised that the last day of the year is typically cold and wet, roads and mobile networks are congested, bars and clubs are flu infested, the champagne tastes suspiciously of apple juice mixed with Diarolyte, and people are out of what is left of their mind.
But every year, despite what I vouch to the year before, I end up being won over by the hype, the promise of a fresh new start, the allure of dropping the old year into the silent limbo of the past, and wiping the slate clean. And every year, I end up putting on my warmest coat, my thickest muffler, a silly hat and unpractical gloves, and venture out to join the pomp. I usually enjoy it a bit more than I let on, but as soon as the clock strikes twelve, the call from Mrs. Pillow becomes irresistible.
Then, whilst still nursing the typical New Year’s Eve hangover, New Year’s Day hits me straight in the face. This is when I swear, hand on heart, that I will never drink again (until midday), and resort to making my standard New Year resolutions – to exercise more and to stress less – two entirely contradictory resolutions that can never happen simultaneously. You see, I get most of my exercise by hitting the roof, jumping to conclusions, crashing on the sofa, flying off the handle, pressing the wrong buttons, and cutting people off, so clearly, the moment I stop stressing I also stop exercising. But I’m not worried, because now there are more overweight people in the world than average-weight people, so even if I gain weight I will still be average. And, stress is the best way to lose weight and keep your heart rate racing, so I’m sorted for both resolutions already.
I usually also resolve to balance my check book (on my head), and to quit smoking my two cigarettes a day, but, all I end up doing is not buy cigarettes for the first few months of the year and instead bum my way through. I also pledge to tolerate fools more graciously, but by mid January I jump to the conclusion that there are simply more fools to tolerate so my resolution gets fulfilled without the need of action from my end.
Although I still have a few days of sanity left, I know that this year will not turn out to be any different. I will solemnly vouch not to fall into the same trap but I will. I will aim for a body that requires daily Pilates and one meal a month, I will bum cigarettes off kind friends up until around March, and I will jog for exactly 10 minutes and recover for the rest of the year. In other words, by the time that you get to read this, I would have made a much needed fresh start on old habits, and picked up a couple of new ones along the way. Dare to join me?
First published in Life and Style Magazine January 2009