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My Boring Life - Part I
New Year's Eve

If you like pointed hats, confetti, and cocktails, then I suggest you not read any further; for I am the Ebenezer Scrooge of New Year's Eve. If there were such things as ghosts of New Year's past, present and future, they certainly would have haunted me by now.

I suppose it all began somewhere back in my childhood. Being subjected to Lawrence Welk, Guy Lombardo or whoever it was that entertained the masses on New Year's Eve long ago, I'm certain set the stage for what was to become a life-long dread of New Year's Eve. Well, maybe "dread" is the wrong word. Maybe I'm just jaded, but somehow watching zillions of people watching a ball drop (oh, yes I know it's an apple now or should be) at the stroke of midnight on New Year's eve just seems a bit ridiculous. It makes me want to scream "Get a life!" If you know what I mean. I'm sure all those New Yorkers who hoot and kiss in Times Square on New Year's Eve would chortle uncontrollably if they ever spent a day living my boring life.

Walk a mile in my shoes New Yorkers and you'd die of boredom I'm certain of it! No Orange Julius, no $240.00 dinners, no skyscrapers (the highest building in my town is the courthouse is about 93 feet tall), no "escort service", no revolving doors, not a single escalator and only one elevator in my little town. Plus, I might actually say "Hi" to people I pass on the street (oh no!). Awful, just awful, isn't it? Can you even spell B O R I N G in New York?

Keep in mind that I live in a rural area of northern Ohio, where a shopping trip to Wal-mart is considered entertainment and eating dinner at KFC is considered a big night out, especially if you have those new dippers with the hot sauce.

The big local hangouts for those under thirty are the "Office Bar" and "Bluto's" and I'm not kidding! For most of us small-town folk over thirty, the sidewalks roll up at dark - and this time of year the it gets REALLY DARK, REALLY EARLY. A "New Yorker" I'm not. But, you know what? As boring as my life is, I like it and that's all that matters to me. I'm not made for revolving doors, hot dog carts, and Orange Julius. I sure don't have $10,000 to pay for an Escort Service. The only escort service we have in my little town is at the local car repair shop. We don't have those things here. I think the nearest revolving door is in Cleveland - but I'm not sure they are there anymore either since the downtown department stores have all gone belly up. I don't like hot dogs unless they are connected with a baseball game and if Orange Julius lives in my town I am not aware of it. I'm sorry Julius. So, New Yorkers, I have a life even if you don't think I do. I think therefore I have a life?

When I was a kid, midnight was a rather mysterious event. I only saw it once a year. And, you guessed it, that once a year was New Year's Eve. I can remember thinking that strange things must happen at midnight. Ghouls and other creepies must awaken then to terrorize all those who venture out at that odd hour. But on New Year's Eve, there are sooooooo many people awake at midnight. No doubt these millions were kept awake by the exciting showmanship of Lawrence Welk or Guy Lombardo, or whoever graced the television screens in those days - gosh, I'm showing my old age! Perhaps the lilting accent of Lawrence Welk or the squealing of Guy Lombardo's orchestra's muted trumpet kept the goblins and ghosties at bay. I bet didn't dare venture out at their favored hour - Lawrence Welk? Guy Lombardo? These annoying people no doubt kept Goblins and ghosts home on New Year's eve, because when I went out at midnight to hear the neighbor shoot his 12-gauge shotgun at midnight, there were no scary things floating about at all. Just a lot of noise. New Year's Eve was the only midnight hour I was ever allowed to see. I could only assume that the spooky spirits resumed their nightly hauntings the following night and every night - except for New Year's Eve. I was glad for that. Maybe secretly I was also glad for Lawrence Welk.

Many nights, unbeknownst to my parents, I would awaken at 2:00 or 3:00AM (an ungodly quiet hour for a child) and in the winter I would wish for the furnace to come on to make some noise to mask the sounds of the ghouls and goblins I imagined were skulking in the night just outside my bedroom window. I had a transistor radio in those days  too. A prized possession. But, in those days at 3:00AM there was nothing on the air but static (and occasionally WLS in Chicago which infrequently could be heard in my little town). That was fine. The furnace and the radio worked fine for masking the sounds of a child's imagination.

In the summer, though, the transistor radio's static was the only noise I could find to mask the sounds of creepy things. I used to stick the thing (the transistor radio!) under my pillow and listen to the static unless WLS was coming in good that night. I'd fall asleep to the static, certain that unimaginable creatures lurked furtively in the quiet hours of the night making weird noises and trying to scare little boys like me. I actually liked the sound of the furnace better than static, though. But, both served their purposes. They masked the sounds of the dark and fearsome things that stalked all children who dared to be awake in those wee adult hours of the morning.

Yes, indeed midnight is a strange thing to a child with a wild and unbridled imagination. Even so,  getting to stay up until midnight was a treat back then.

I'm grown-up now. I'm old. My childhood just a memory. Midnight is just another hour. No creepy weird things floating just outside my window anymore. No specters, no ghosts, no apparitions; no mysteries at all - just the silent darkness in the quiet hours - alone with my grown-up thoughts.

These days we don't have to subject our children to Lawrence Welk, Guy Lombardo, or whoever entertained my grandparents and parents (and bored me to death) in those days. We have Dick Clark and "New Year's Rockin' Eve" - although Dick is to sick to host it anymore - we get Ryan Seacrest now. We have giant apples falling down poles in Times Square and zillions of people jumping around and grinning as the camera pans the crowd - all, seemingly, with nothing better to do than watch a "big apple" glide down a pole and pronounce one day ended and another began. And, millions watch this on TV. Even my friends and acquaintances watch the apple fall down the pole. Where's the remote? What's on the History Channel? Spare me New York, Times Square, and the giant apple. New Year's Eve? Bah Humbug!

Not to be outdone by New York, there's a little town not far from me called Port Clinton. And it's quite a raucous place in the summertime. But in the winter, it's freezing, damp, nearly deserted, and quiet. Quiet, that is, until New Year's Eve. Port Clinton is in close proximity to the Lake Erie Islands (Kelley's, Put-In-Bay, Rattlesnake, Middle Bass, Pelee, et. al) and hence it's a summertime hotspot (no pun intended) for boaters, party-animals, and anyone who seeks a wild, semi-uninhibited time on the wild, jumpin' islands smack-dab in the middle of Lake Erie.

Captain Wylie Walleye Descends Into HistoryAnyway, each New Year's Eve, the residents of Port Clinton, gather to watch a Walleye (cleverly named "Captain Wylie Walleye") glide down a pole at midnight. A Walleye is a fish. It is a fish that attracts a great many fisherman to Lake Erie, particularly the Western Basin. Somehow, no matter how odd this sounds to you, I'd rather watch a six hundred pound, fiberglass Walleye named Captain Wylie Walleye glide down a pole in Port Clinton, in the bitter winter winds off Lake Erie (surrounded, no doubt, by non-cool people like myself) than I would watch a fiberglass, glass, or crystal, apple slink its way down a pole in Times Square; lost in New York City surrounded by beautiful people, most of whom will be totally snookered by the time the apple begins to fall. Heck, I'd even rather watch "the pickle" drop in Dillsburg, Pa..

Given my druthers though, I'd "druther" watch "The Secret Life of Bun Candy Bars" on the Food Channel or "Mythbusters" on the Discovery Channel. Hey, it's my boring life and I can do any boring thing I want!

(Someone just corrected me, they said a ball comes down the pole in New York, not an apple. I wouldn't know, it's been decades since I was forced to watch it! And, someone told me that the ball was made of crystal. The should have taken the money they must have spent on the "crystal ball" and fed some of New York's hungry kids. I bet for what that ball cost they could have fed a lot of kids.)

No matter what you choose to do on New Year's Eve, it's fine with me. I'm perfectly happy with my boring little life in this small-town in northern Ohio. I'll grab some Dei Fratelli Salsa (you should try it!), some fresh white corn tortilla chips, and swig down a couple of Diet Cokes (with Splendaź, mind you) while watching "Quincy" or "Everybody Loves Raymond" on DVD. Or maybe I'll just read a good John Grisham or Nelson DeMille book. But I'll betcha I'm asleep on the couch before midnight. The New Year will be waiting when I get up. I won't have a hangover, that's for sure. Nor will I have any embarrassing memories. At least, I hope not!

But, it seems that some people just need an excuse to party. New Year's Eve and Saint Patrick's Day come to mind as some of the best excuses to revel in excess. How much does the good Saint Patrick have to do with Saint Patrick's Day? I'm almost certain he didn't invent green beer or any other color of beer. But, if you want to party, go ahead. Any day will do. You don't need to have your party certified by the masses do you?

Whether you decide to watch the ball drop on TV or go to New York to watch; or venture to Port Clinton, Ohio to watch the walleye fall into the new year, you'll still get up the next day, on January 1st, in the New Year and realize that the "Holiday Season" is over and it's back to normal until next December. To me that's kind of sad.

And, sometimes New Year's Eve brings with it the morose thought that I'm one year closer to my own demise. Certainly not something I want to celebrate. I mean who likes to dwell on their own mortality? Who needs to be reminded? Not me!

While I'm a big fan of Christmas, I am not a fan of New Year's Eve. It's too noisy and phony for me. Scientifically the earth has made one more trip around the sun. The date of "New Year's Day" was arbitrarily assigned by man. Different cultures and different religions have different dates for New Year's Day. New Year's Eve? Bah! Humbug!

If you are a New Year's Eve fan; that's great. If you want to grab your pointed party hat, hoo-hoo horn, streamers, confetti, Glenfiddich and spring water - and festively honk and party your way into the New Year, that's wonderful! More power to you!  I just wont be hoo-hooing with you.

And, if you're one of the ones who feel left out of it all; out-of-synch with the masses as you gaze upon the beautiful people with their permasmiles flashing - hooting and hollering in Times Square or partying in Beverly Hills - just think of me. I'll be having a quiet New Year's Eve here in small town Ohio. I will give "New Year's Eve" as little thought as possible.

But one thing for sure: As boring as it will seem to many who probably feel sorry for me by now, I will enjoy it. I will enjoy it as much as any other relaxing evening. And just maybe there's more  people like me than I thought. And if so, perhaps we are the majority who think New Year's Eve is more hype than substance; more of an excuse to party than a celebration of a new year.

New Year's Eve is just another day in my boring life. But, my boring life is just how I want it to be.

Happy New Year to you. May all your dreams come true in 2008.

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