Looks like we are just about done with 2017. Good-bye, good riddance, sayonara, arrivederci, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way outski. I am done with you. You might have guessed by my less than subtitle reaction that it’s not been the best of years. Yeah, sure, there was good stuff. Lots. But the bad overshadow the good and I am left counting down the hours to what hopefully will be a seismic shift towards a more positive 2018.
Look, bad years happen. They can’t all be winners. It’s only a year. Years are big deal when you’re a kid. If you are 9 years old and a bad year rolls through, it means over a 10th of your life was as rotten as a week old raw fish milkshake left on a blazing Belize beach. Even at 20, an entire year is kinda a big friggin deal. But to someone my age, not so much. Years come and go. Most pretty good, some kinda crummy. There have been so many I really don’t even remember a lot of them. Life speeds by so fast, details become a blur. It’s like trying to remember every birthday dinner I have ever had or recalling every pair of sneakers I’ve worn. Wooosh… Oh my whiskers.
In the grand scheme of things, I can’t really complain. Still, I don’t think time will completely erase the suckage from 2017. Even if I become a drooling, doddering elderly man with limited mental faculties holed up in the mega-care level of a dingy assisted living facility so out of it I don’t realize I need change my Kessler filled depends, I still don’t think I’ll be waxing nostalgic to my fellow geriatrics about 2017.
As the year has mercifully drained through its last few weeks, my wife has been away from home a lot dealing with some of the worst of the aforementioned bad stuff. She has left me to mind the fort, amuse the animals and tend to the back forty, which is in our case is less like forty acres of farmland and more like forty feet of concrete with a chilly pool and rickety temperamental pump plopped in the middle. My heart wants to be with her to do all those instinctual ‘fix the problem’ guy mode things. But some problems don’t have a quick fix and I know I would just be in the way. My head knows that tending to the day to day with the house and pets is actually the best possible thing I can do. It gives her less thing to worry about. But I don’t like it.
The amusement of occasional temporary bachelorhood usually lasts about half a night. After 17 years together, the wife and I both need and enjoy our own space but really do function better together as a team. I tend to slip into bad old single Dan habits when she is gone eating poorly, not getting enough sleep and watching more TV than I should.
The other night I made a very tasty but quite unhealthy dinner for myself and turned on the tube just as The Wizard Of Oz was coming on. My brain started wandering. That is another problem with being alone for extended periods. Too much time for my head to run in overdrive towards all sorts of ill-advised directions. I expected the good old Wizard Of Oz to take my mind off stuff although not quite the bachelor movie like Goodfellas or Caddyshack. Unfortunately it too dredged up lots of brain-spins. First I thought, wow, I just referenced that movie in last week’s blog. Then wondered aloud to the cats and dog, when did it become a Christmastime movie?
I was transported many years back to when I was a kid. It was a different world then. Not better, not worse, just different. You could not watch a movie on demand. There were no digital downloads, DVDs, videotapes or even cable TV. YES, I’M THAT OLD. Life had less immediate gratification. Slow rotary phones were connected to the wall by a wire, most homes did not have a microwave and if you had to look a factoid up you dragged your ass to the library because smartphones and home computers were still a thing of sci-fi adventures.
My head started wading through the mish-mash of previous years, digging into jumbled memories of my childhood. It was a big deal when the single yearly showing of The Wizard Of Oz was going to be on TV. Advertised for weeks. The day’s plans were wrapped around being in front of the tube when it started. You did not want to miss when it shifted from black and white to color.
I can’t tell you the years or the times but I recall laying on my folk’s bed watching it on their bedroom TV, I remember one year watching it on Miami Beach’s dumpy New Richmond Hotel’s lobby TV and I have a real vague recollection of being very little getting bored while my family was engrossed during all the early songs then later getting very afraid of the flying monkeys. My wife grew up in a small town in Iowa, much of that time without a television in the house. Because of that, The Wizard Of Oz was one of those movies that slipped through the cracks and she never saw it.
A few years back they were presenting it at one of the big opera houses with a full live orchestra. We went with a couple of friends, one of which had also never seen it. We sat in the huge grandiose auditorium with all the other people mostly there mostly to relive their childhood, except the screen was kinda wobbly and you could not see the bottom half of it from the floor seats because the huge orchestra was in front of it. Also up close where we sat, you really could not hear most of the dialog over the much louder live music. It was great if you knew the movie by heart like most folks in the theatre but if you didn’t, there was no way you could tell what the hell was going on.
About a half hour into the show, one of our friends wandered out to the lobby where he became best friends for the rest of the night with an equally bored bartender. My wife made an effort but really got very little out of the experience aside from an autographed photo from two of the last three surviving munchkins at the after-show meet and greet. Mostly though, we worried about our tipsy friend getting home safely. I assumed that night my wife would enjoy getting to know the Hollywood classic and start making her own memories of watching it. Unfortunately, like this past year, it did not go as planned.
Twelve months ago, as we quietly ushered in 2017, I was optimistic about all the possibilities the new year might bring. The year before, hours after ringing in the New Year at a big outside party, we found ourselves trapped in a stuck downtown hotel ancient elevator for 40 minutes with a crowd of drunk revilers. We hoped a mellower New Year’s Eve might bring some better joojoo to 2017. That didn’t work as planned either and I’m am pretty sure that 2018 might not start out so great.
I am cautiously hopeful that there is a corner to be turned down somewhere on the other side of the foreboding yellow brick road ahead of us and we don’t have to go all the way over the rainbow for things to get better. I know for doddering old Dan in the far future, the years will blur and the bad memories will be diluted but for now, it is what it is and we will get through like we always do. Maybe I will temper my New Year’s wishes a bit and just hope the 2018 roller coaster ride is not too bumpy.
Happy and healthy to all… and watch out for those damn flying monkeys.