Time to pop the champagne

Recalling my childhood and adolescent celebrations.

Yes indeed, here we go again. Don that funny hat, give a drunken yell, rattle the noise-maker, and pop the champagne. And while you’re at it, sing a rousing rendition of “Auld Lang Syne,” kiss your favorite sweetheart — and maybe a few others who aren’t your favorites — and wade through the confetti.

At least that’s the way I like to celebrate New Year’s Eve. And that’s also the way it’s celebrated on Bourbon Street, in Times Square hotels, and in the ballroom of the Waldorf. (But just to keep things in the proper perspective, half the world — the Muslims and Buddhists — don’t celebrate our New Year at all.)

I recall one New Years Eve in New York when the friend I was living with obtained tickets to a party in Andy Warhol’s factory, tickets that half the people in Manhattan would have killed for. However, by the time we finished gearing up for the party—-that is, taking a bath, downing a couple shots, and other amenities to get in the proper frame of mind—-we were so mellow and contented, we never even left the apartment! We simply sat on the couch and listened to the fireworks and gaiety filter through the walls. (Unfortunately, that was the last opportunity I ever had to meet the silver-haired icon.)

When I was a little kid, a few home-town musicians and most of the farm families from the surrounding region would gather at local granges. As the midnight hour approached, the various scenes neared complete pandemonium. There were horns, ratchet noise-makers, confetti, crape-paper streamers, and the crowd would erupt in a off-key, confusing version of “Auld Lang Syne.” Men would jump up and down, scream and bellow, and kiss every woman within an arm’s length.

I recall another New Year’s bash in New York’s CBGB. a hotbed for the punk phenomenon. The evening’s band didn’t play “Auld Lang Syne” and really didn’t even acknowledge midnight, except to shout “have a new year you *#&?!# jerks!” Sigh… Since then, on New year’s Eve I’ve always preferred a big band over a rock group. (For the benefit of youngsters who might be lame enough to read this, a “big band” has a lot of instruments, but often no guitars.)

Anyway, whatever hotel or lounge you happen to drop by, you’ll probably end up buying drinks for yourself and everyone else — and everyone else will buy for themselves and you. In other words, nobody seems to know who’s paying for what or who’s consuming what, but there’s surely enough to go around.

That’s the way life should be.

Whatever your choice — whether a quiet evening on the living-room couch, a private party, or an evening in local bars — be sure to spend New Year’s with people you love. That’s the most important thing of all.

And on that thought, I’ll conclude this final column of 2018 with a toast or two. One for peace, another for prosperity, and perhaps a third just for the hell-of-it. My best to all of you and may this be the year all your wildest dreams come true.

Happy New Year everyone!

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