Sunday, January 2, 2011

Begin the Beguine

'Twas another New York New Year's Celebration, just like last year.  Again, this doesn't mean we were in Times Square when that Waterford Ball dropped - it just means we celebrated the dropping when New Yorkers did, even though we were in California.  Midnight there, 9 o'clock here - perfect for old fuddy-duds like us with kids.

There was a time when we'd be dancing to Superbooty in San Francisco, drinking backstage with those rock 'n rollers after the gig because our friends knew the guitarist.

We were young then.

When we first moved to Alameda, we introduced pots and pans to the neighborhood.  On New Year's Night.  We're pretty sure pots hadn't been banged at night, outside, before us.  Coulda been, but if I bet, I'd bet no.

Pots and pans were big in Modesto.  Karen and I, growing up together - but separate, we wouldn't meet until high school - we banged pots at the stroke of midnight.  I banged on Sherwood Avenue, Karen way across town causing a racket on Carolyn.

So we brought that to Monte Vista on the sleepy island.  Our first New Year's, we woke the street up.  Grainne and Stuart, right next door - neither of us had kids yet.  We were both two years from kids.  Three doors down - they had a full house. Four kids, the oldest ten, the youngest - one?  Two?  Barely two, if two.  So when we banged, and hooted, well - the kids thought it was alarming.  Alarming and fun.  Adults, taking wooden spoons to pans?  What's up with that? 

We didn't know we were starting a tradition - how can you know you're starting a tradition there at the beginning?  The next year, we warned them to be ready for more of the same - the second to youngest swore he'd be there for us.  He'd wait up, he could do it.

When night fell, and midnight followed, we banged like we did that first year.  But the good souls were asleep at the witching hour.  Karen had me go over and leave a pot on their porch with a big wooden spoon nestled inside.  Evidence that we had banged.

So long ago now.

Last year was our first New York New Year's - honestly, I forget if we made it to twelve after we got home.  I know we didn't make it last night.  What's the First Rule of drinking?

Don't mix.

What's the Second Rule?

Don't mix.

So last night, we had some punch thing.  Cloud called the bar he used to frequent in Oregon to get the recipe.  Lotta alcohol.  Then I mixed up some Candy Cane Martinis.  I wanted to spice them like Jeremy had, but I didn't have any Pepper Vodka.  And of course we couldn't find the candy canes that should dangle from the lip of the glass, so they were just strong without the candy fun.  And then Harry's Margarita's.  And champagne.

I may have had a beer or two.

Anyway - that would be the definition of mixing.  When we got home, around ten, after watching the ball drop an hour earlier, at Natasha and Harry's - with Cloud and Kate, Sharon and Nick, Brad and Janine, Liz and Donar.  And the kids.  The kids!  All the kids.  How'd we all get so many kids?

We got home with the kids and tucked them into bed, safe and sound.  The two of us?  We did not pass out.  We glided gently off to slumber - smiling and humming carols.

Until midnight, when Karen poked me and said, They're banging pots and pans.  Get up, up, you have to go out.

So I dressed like a thief in the dark, and stood on our porch while the oldest of the neighbor kids - now 18 and applying to college - led her merry band of revelers in a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne on copper kettle, stainless pot, and tin can.

Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?

Beautiful, beautiful sounds.  And they laughed and I laughed and then I called for a second round.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And still laughing I reminded them that it wasn't too long ago when I was the one doing the waking, but now here they were, banging while we slept.

While we slept.

There will come a time when we're the ones up again - but for now, we're tired.  Blessedly tired.  So we'll sleep when we can, rest when we can, and before we know it, it'll be Elizabeth thinking about college, or travel, banging her pot on the porch - laughing in the dark and walking down the block, Kristina hitting her pan even louder, Kristina probably with two lids turned into cymbals - crashcrashcrash - because how much fun would that be?


Happy New Year - and all best in the year to come.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear.
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


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