Unlike my earliest Christmases, I have absolutely no recollection of my earliest New Year’s Eve celebrations. Most likely, I was somewhere off in dream land when the clock struck twelve. Funny, that’s where I usually am now that my wild oats have all been sown.
It was probably around 1950 when I came to realize that we were supposed to stay up until midnight, then run outside banging pots and pans while shouting, “Happy New Year” to no one in particular. If I was like my own children, I’m sure the first time I tried to stay awake until the first seconds of the new year, I probably fell asleep on the sofa.
Sometime later in my childhood, my mom, dad, brothers and I would head off to my sister’s house. Gert and Mac were the parents of Terry and Keith – my oldest nephews who are more like brothers to me. The highlight of those New Year’s Eve parties – beside banging pots and pans and shouting – was the Chef Boyardee pizza.
Believe it or not, back in those days, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, and all the rest were still hiding in the future. If you wanted pizza, you made it yourself. New York City might have had pizzerias in the mid 1950’s, but we knew nothing more Italian than Chef Boyardee.
As I matured, got my driver’s license, and began getting invited to more adult entertainment type parties, I quickly learned why many people called New Year’s Eve “Amateur Night.” I can remember one year, while driving home from work around 5:00 PM, the drunks were already weaving all over the road. Add a bit of Pittsburgh ice and snow, and one would think twice about going to any party.
One year, our host pulled out a 45 caliber pistol around 10:30. He said he was going to fire off a few rounds to welcome in the new year. Since I much prefer banging pots and pans together, I told my wife we had partied enough and we left. The man with the gun was already two and a half sheets to the wind; I didn’t want to see what he was like an hour and a half later.
And then there was the New Year’s Eve that began with a desperate call from my employer. They were looking for blood donors for a fellow employee with meningitis. Since I had the right type, I drove to the hospital and gave them a pint of my finest high test type O positive.
Twelve hours later, after drinking gallons of water and juice all day, I had one scotch and water and became instantly drunk. We were within walking distance of where we planned to spend the night, so my wife and our hostess walked me back to her home. The sidewalk was a sheet of ice and, as woozy as I was, I managed to keep both women from falling.
In truth, we attended few New Year’s Eve parties over the years. As the tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol grew steadily lower, my desire to go out on Amateur Night has diminished.
However, this year we have accepted an invitation. My bride will be the designated driver whether I donate blood in the morning or not. I hope this event goes smoothly. Otherwise, I may go back to Chef Boyardee and banging pots and pans.
Better yet, I may just turn in early and get a good night’s rest. The old guy will be pushed aside by the guy in diapers whether I’m there to witness it or not.
I started this post with a song, and I’ll end it that way as well. I was trying to find the Kingston Trio’s rendition of “It was a very good year” but failed. I like Chad and Jeremy’s version better than Sinatra.