Another year is winding down. The old man and his scythe is on his way out, to be replaced by yet another diapered babe, both babbling with a load in their drawers, for these are the times we live in. The scourge of smallpox, once eradicated, is now a mainstay of biological-warfare strategy, and weapons of mass destruction, which just two years ago meant nuclear, have come back repackaged as early-'50s hysteria, when we all thought we'd be safe if we just crawled under our desks and wrapped our hands around our heads. We are poised for yet another war to prevent another war, but I have my doubts. Some things just never seem to change.
Fear is the norm; the enemy lives amongst us. He is hiding in our closest and beneath our beds. We've come so far as a civilization, yet we still find ourselves living on the precipice. We move the way we've always moved, the same way that got us here in the first place, yet we can't seem to grasp the idea that maybe it's time to change. To think so is naïve, or so they say, but who are they, if not ourselves, and what exactly is it that we're really afraid of?
That said, I suppose it's time for resolutions, if not revolutions, maybe even a few revelations, for New Year's is one of those moments when one can't help but think of the passage of time, if only because you have to go out and buy another calendar and date book. That tick-tick-ticking of the clock, those hands moving slowly across the face that is your own, may just be the only truly democratic force that exists.
I try to live outside of its structure, deluding myself that if I stay young at heart and mind, that the ravages of age will somehow pass me by, but the body sings a different song. I see it in the wrinkles around my eyes, in the softening of the skin that was once a tight neck. I feel it in my breath when I exert myself. I can't stay up late anymore without paying a price the next day, and I've already lived through two rockabilly revivals, so please, don't speak to me of fads as something new.
This New Year's, I want my mind back. I'm going to take everything I've ever learned, open the windows and throw it away, air the place out for a week or two, and then start afresh. I'm going to keep the place simple. That means no more drawings for the refrigerator, no more knick-knacks gathering dust, and no more sophistry, unless it suits my purpose.
I'm going to get down on my hands and knees and finally chase the bogeymen from beneath my bed, packing them off to my neighbor's house, already so overcrowded with their kin that they'll slip in unnoticed. I'm going to wean myself from the television until they start broadcasting static, and then I'm going to surrender and stare into it until I unravel the secret mysteries of the universe.
I am going to stop speaking to God until he finally gets up off his ass and returns my first call, which was so long ago I don't even remember what it was I asked him-then I'm going to hang up. I'm going to give up on all forms of institutionalized politics until they start advocating institutionalizing politicians, and then I'm going to move to Chicago and vote yea six times.
I'm going to start my own Reader's Digest, condensing their condensed version until there's nothing left to read, then double the price. I'm going to sit down and finally start working on my novel, so long and obtuse that it will make James Joyce look like a minimalist, then follow it up with a book of poems so personal that not even I will understand them, passing myself off as the guru of the New School of NeopostmortemRealism. I will then charge exorbitant prices for workshops at imaginary locations. If someone calls me a fraud, I'll tell them I was speaking from my head, not my heart.
I am going to walk down the street naked, and when stopped by the police, tell them that it's OK-I'm really the emperor. If they lock me up, I'm going to hire Alan Dershowitz as my lawyer, plead the fifth to every question that they ask me and demand a jury of my peers. If they refuse, I'll take it all the way to the Supreme Court.
That should do it. If I remain strong, that should keep me occupied until sometime in mid-February, at which point I will sit down with a big box of chocolates and start reexamining my love life, embellishing a bit here and there as I scribble away into that good night with the hope that someone will pick up the screen rights. Of course they'll want me to play my own part, and once that's settled, I'll ask Goldie Hawn to play all the others. I'm sure she knows how I've felt about her all these years, and will readily agree.
What were you expecting, a diet, more exercise, or another vow to quit smoking?