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Friday, January 02, 2004

2004 - The Year of Blind Choice

Yes, I am of the mindset that one's activities on New Year's Eve may forecast the coming year's theme for one's life. That is why I am declaring 2004 the year of blind choices.

I spent my night at a 70's party, where I was the official "ball-dropper". If you have never been a ball-dropper, you don't know what you are missing. As midnight nears, the ball-dropper gets to stand in the center of the room holding a lighted ornamental ball. The entire room focuses on you (no, not the ball, silly - they were looking at me - I was hot) for approximately 15 seconds, which is always a thrill for dramatic types such as myself. As the room counts down the new year, the ball-dropper slowly lowers the ball and then tries very hard to make it look spectacular when it reaches the midnight position (somewhere near my crotch, actually).

This is my third year as a ball-dropper, but it may be my last. This year the party host decided to rig a nail over the archway. The ball's cord would loop over the nail, and the ball would smoothly descend during the countdown. That's how it would happen in theory. I don't want to sound like a diva, but I have never worked with a nail before, and was thrown off by this technical enhancement. I think we should have at least held a dress rehearsal before the party so that I could learn to work with the nail. I'm sure Britney got a chance to rehearse a couple times with the 5 foot python before she performed with it. I mean, they didn't throw a feather boa around her neck and tell her to pretend, did they?

It was no surprise to me that the countdown was disastrous. The ball was dropping splendidly until we hit eight. At the count of eight, everything fell apart. The cord caught on the nail, and I struggled to free the ball. The party guests nervously continued the countdown, albeit much more tentatively. For a clearer idea of the crowd's reaction, think back to 1986. Remember when everyone cheered the launching of Challenger and then slowly realized they were watching an explosion? Their cheers turned to horror, and people began screaming. Well, it was like that only worse because this event embarrassed me, and the Challenger explosion didn't.

The nail held fast. I thought about calling a do-over, but I have never seen Dick Clark do that, so I don't think it's allowed. He basically sets the rules for this holiday, the way Old Navy sets the rules for Christmas festivities. As we reached four, I desperately pried at the cord and the God of New Year's Eve (Dick) smiled on me. The ball plummeted quickly. 3-2-1 went by in a blur, and 2004 arrived with all the glory of a premature ejaculation.

I choose not to focus any further on that glitch in the party, because I do not wish to label 2004 as The Year of Technical Glitches. How boring would that be? Besides, that was George Bush's theme for 2003, and I don't want to steal his thunder. Or imitate him in any way, thank you very much. Instead, I have opted for a more romantic theme, which came to me (as all good ideas do) while snacking.

The hors-d'oeuvres for this soiree happened to be displayed along one wall in a very dimly lit dining room. All night I popped snacks into my mouth expecting one taste and experiencing quite another. As I munched a cookie, I would realize it was a savory cracker. The coconut macaroon I ate turned out to be a crab cake. This is a jarring experience, but tantalized my love of surprises. I don't believe in peering over the edge of my glasses at an unidentifiable piece of food and timidly asking, "What is this?" Nope. I'll down it faster than Popeye can swallow a can of spinach and ask questions later. After I finish vomiting, I'll ask around and find out what I consumed that made me so violently ill. Somehow, that's more fun.

Agnes DeMille said, "Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what's next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark."

I'm planning on leaping a lot this year. Sure, I risk giving up a new dishwasher for the booby prize (a tractor driven by Carol Merril) behind curtain number three. Maybe I will drive into a fake road painted into the side of a mountain. At least I'll be surprised. Happy 2004.

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