Have it both ways
Last night I hit the sack with Charlie at nine, as usual.
After five days of shivering, sweating, feeling horrible and doing even less than I normally don’t do, I was gonna kick this winter sickness. Alas for Charlie, I’d passed it to him, despite my almost stellar 88% sneeze protocol adherance.
Sneeze protocol: when the urge strikes, drop any tools, implements, and grab collar of shirt/sweater with both hands and cover face up to eyeballs, then emit a sneeze but don’t let ‘er rip because even a real JP -force sneeze laughs at mere cloth.
We’ve never gone to a New Year’s party. I have been to ONE in Marin, about five years ago.
No, Mr Party Pooper prefers not to, and I would just “not to” right along with him, until…the millenium. Just to be able to do something unusual on New Year’s Eve, I signed up for folk music camp (Camp Harmony). Everyone, even the children , stay up past midnight every night but especially on the big final night, Dec 31st. It was such a blast, I promised myself to do this for the following year, and the one after that… on and on ..until that awful Norovirus Year, where EVERYONE was puking and pooping, sick as dogs. 2005-6 I believe. I just never went back, and resumed the ol’ nine-to-bed, waken to all the firecrackers, mumble ‘happy new year, dear’ and roll over.
But the firecrackers were off at ten. Then again, at eleven. I kept being woken up. There was merriment going on Out There!
I remembered that one party, very near by, and wondered if it would be on again this year. “Hell, she’s only five minutes away by bicycle” I goad myself.
“Haven’t you been riding in the freezing cold to go swimming for ten weeks?” my nagging self taunted. Five f finger-numbing minutes later, u nder a perfectly clear halfmoon starry sky, was there. Cars crammed around her little cottage. Not a lot of noise.
Inside, I can see the party has wound down, there are only fifteen or so folks, being given rattles, gongs, trumpet, noisemakers…
I picked my instrument (a kazooo) and followed everyone , led by a child in a New Year’s Dragon head, up and over the hill in the (usually very) quiet San Anselmo neighborhood.
What’s impressive about Linda’s annual ritual is how ready her neighbors are for this occasion.
Kids rush outside and do a jig. Their parents smile from the doorway.
One woman leaned out her window, saying “Thank you! Thank you!”
A silhouette behind venetian blinds waved feverishly from a second -story window. Straigh out of cinema cliche, the shut-in lady.
I feel so lucky, even at the advanced age of 56, to be able to hop on a bike and scoot somewhere without much thought, even if it is “amateur night” out there (we heard lots of firecrackers and Young Men Yelling). It’s not to be taken for granted.
My most animated conversation later, in the apres-spirit-warding-off ceremony, was with Victor Zaballa, a Mexican artist who had a lot of stories about being in his car, and having “weekend warriors” smash into him on their bikes. This, after I proudly bragged about being a bike racer. At this party, every single person (save the 9 yr old girl) is Someone Professional, and even though I’m seriously washed up, I have to uh…profess.
As I rode home at about one-thirty, I recalled with a giggle how, in 1979, at a New Year’s Party, I bragged about being a bike racer–without ever having seen a race, let alone be in one.
I plan to lie about being an author this year.