In case you didn’t notice or have been trapped in the Groundhog Day time warp that is 2020 – today is New Year’s Eve. You know, the time when we say adieu – or in this case perhaps something a bit harsher – to the f***-o-rama year that was, and welcome in a shiny new one with dreams of prosperity, health, happiness and maybe the chance to belly up at The Ranch again with several hundred of our closest friends.
(No pressure, 2021. Since 2020 was pretty much the worst year ever in the history of the world, I’d say the bar is set pretty low. In fact, most of us would probably forego the “health, happiness and prosperity” part and be perfectly content with “almost normal, employed and upright.”)
Now typically on New Year’s Eve, local revelers would be raiding their costume box for NYE finery or donning their best Carhartt’s for the last hooplah before a month of “sobriety” (usually defined by a day or two on the wagon) before falling off hard for Snowdown (usually defined as any day after Jan. 2.)
But, of course, things are different now. Instead of Snowdown Black Tie (or whatever the theme was, as most of our memories have since been bulldozed into a quivering pile of Jell-O) we now have Snowdown Black Hole. A huge, bottomless morass of lethargy, loneliness and what I like to call my fat lady pants.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that, sadly, this is not all that different from a typical New Year’s for me. Maybe, there is even a small part of me – ok, maybe not that small thanks to my COVID “19” – that likes the hermit lifestyle. In full disclosure, I haven’t worn real pants in several months, mostly because all the zippers seem to be, uh, stuck. Plus, real pants are hard to sleep in. Or nap in. Or couch surf in. Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed the irony of “joggers?” The only jogging I’ve done in them as of late is my memory, trying to remember what day it is. But I guess the jogger misnomer is really no different than “tennis shoes” or “sports coats” – two other things that are seldom worn for intended purposes.
But all is not lost in the abyss of malaise and leisurewear. In fact, there are plenty of little things we can all celebrate as we say goodbye to the great toilet paper famine of 2020. For example, thank god for the “mute” and “enhance appearance” buttons on Zoom. Or Amazon Prime and at long last, the end to the nonstop barrage of election robotexts, giving whole new meaning to “Silent Night.” We no longer need to try to act nonchalant as we race others down the toilet paper aisle for the last remaining pack of two-ply and can rejoice in the return of Clorox wipes. Which, even at the ungodly price or $5.99 for the small container, we are happy to pay. This despite the fact that we will likely continue to dole out our existing ones like precious golden tickets and stockpile the new ones in a closet for the duration of our earthly habitation.
The pandemic has also afforded me more quality time with the offspring, whose unsurpassed ability to sleep is only rivaled by their ability to produce dirty dishes. And, thanks to facemasks, I no longer have to worry if remnants of my blueberry-chia smoothie are wedged between my pearly whites on paper delivery day.
In other good news, we also have the vaccine, for which I will gladly be rolling my raggedy fleece sleeve up, even if it means Bill Gates can track my movements from couch to kitchen or monitor the number of times I visit the platter of rum balls or the liquor store before noon. And speaking of couch, although I never made good on my promise to binge-watch the entire “Game of Thrones” series (don’t you people know what a spoiler alert is?) I am completely up-to-date on the British royal family, thanks to subtitles, and have watched way more “Survivor” than I care to admit. (Ironically enough, I found the cold-calculated indifference of both shows eerily similar.)
But things are not all immunity idols, ermine stoles and teetering on a pedestal for no apparent reason. For example, I may never be able to view movie scenes or concert footage without cringing or suffering a full bout of anxiety. Sadly, “The Office” and the department store Santa scene from “A Christmas Story” will never be the same.
And then there are more practical matters that may never be overcome, like learning how to keep a facemask from fogging up your glasses or resisting the urge to remove a soggy neck gaiter in the lift line, even if it smells like wet dog and you’re pretty sure moss is growing on your chin. Or avoiding the dreaded Netflix Neck from an epic stint of “Cobra Kai” spent hunched over a laptop at the kitchen table for several lost hours of your life that you’ll never get back.
Which brings me to my point – other than that proper ergonomics are no joke. If Ralph Macchio can make a middle-aged comeback, with a hot wife and a killer job, there is hope for all of us – saggy sweats, paunch, bad COVID hair and all.