Blue Sky Writing

1/1/07. The worst day of the year*


Were you one of the many who held their heads in their hands New Year’s Day moaning never again, never ever again? Did you hobble out to the kitchen to grope for the aspirin bottle and a glass of something wet, wondering all the while whether you would ever be able to silence that bowling ball you were sure was rolling around in the area once reserved for gray matter?

Ah, such is the stuff that resolutions are made of.

Perhaps you decided to crack open a beer or mix a Bloody Mary in a desperate ploy to postpone the inevitable for another few hours.

Procrastination. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are really all about. The worst day of the year is the first and for good reason. That’s the day you’re supposed to deny yourself all the bad habits that have followed you faithfully through the years and embrace detestable good habits that will make you a model citizen.

Previously, no doubt, you have made list of all the things you enjoy doing and have promised yourself you’ll quit doing them at the beginning of a fresh, unsullied year. It’s only a matter of days, you say, until I quit smoking or drinking. I’ll start exercising every morning. I’ll staple my stomach shut. I’ll floss my teeth, drink green tea and carrot juice, forego sour mash and take up stamp collecting.

I will count to ten before losing my temper. I’ll quit nagging my spouse. I’ll be nice to my in-laws. I’ll take a self-improvement course. And I’ll be wholesome, healthful and about as much fun to be around as Aunt Madge’s asthmatic fox terrier.

You tuck the list away in a remove corner of your mind where it waits to be disinterred at the fateful hour when the clock strikes midnight.

Then you wake up feeling like a bear slept in your mouth, your eyes are the color of boiled beets, your stomach acts like someone was in there with a Roto-Rooter, and you’re ready to read the rites over that moldering list. It’s a brand new day in a brave new world, and you’re spending it on the bathroom tile. Your life is on the skids.

It may not be terribly encouraging news now, but you can take another shot at keeping resolutions in February when Chinese New Year’s rolls around on the 18th. Probably by then you will have recovered your dignity. You may even be full of good cheer again.

Personally, I think New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time and about as inspiring as the surface of my thumbnail. All they do is make you feel lousy at being unable to keep them. And the ghosts of New Year’s Resolutions Past have a nasty way of coming back to haunt you in the guise of friends and family who have excellent memories but poor timing and no tact.

So why give up now something you can enjoy for whole more year? If you must make a list of New Years’s resolutions, keep them hidden. The top shelf of the closet in the spare bedroom is my favorite hiding place. That’s where I stash unsightly stuff when unexpected company appears. I’m afraid to open the door now. I would start an avalanche of coat hangers, empty shoe boxes, dated magazines and magazines I haven’t had time to read.

Of course, there are some individuals who manage to keep their resolutions. But they get invited to few holiday parties because they’re insufferable bores who have no friends. The rest of us muck through life holding our bad habits in a “vice” grip. It is only when New Year’s arrives that we treat them like unpleasant relatives.

Here’s a sampling of some of the resolutions that were floating around my office water cooler: F.A. said he wanted to stop biting his fingernails. This is the fifteenth year in a row that F.A. has attempted to do this, and we anticipate his success with guarded optimism. J.K. said she would like to find a rich, single movie star. Now I don’t know much about celebrities of any kind, but I understand a number of them hang out in rehab these days. S.N. would like to lose weight, five pounds to be exact. S.N. is disgustingly thin and willowy, so it taxes the imagination wondering where those five pounds are going to come from. C.B. said he would like to quit smoking, which is interesting when you consider he doesn’t smoke in the first place.

As for me, I’m holding out till Chinese New Year’s which, by the way, is the beginning of the Year of the Pig. By then, perhaps, I will disinter an old list of good intentions. I might also by then have dug my way out from under the avalanche of coat hangers, empty shoe boxes and unread magazines.

First conceived in early 1980s.

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July 12, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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