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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 12.31.05
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Pass the champagne and wake up mom

New Year's Eve is the Super Bowl Party of holidays. It's built around an event whose hype is greater than its actual significance, there's way too much food and drink, the outcome is usually predictable, and the jocks and cheerleaders are getting all the action.

I mean, don't you wish that just once something surprising would happen in Times Square?

Imagine it: "And now the ball is dropping. The crowd is cheering as we approach the final seconds of 2005, and… wait, the ball is going back up! Time is reversing! Reversing is time! Up back going is ball the, wait…"

Instead, we'll have the numbing reassurance of performances by the likes of the disturbingly reanimated INXS, while here at home, we'll be torn between the patriotic desire to tune into a Canadian New Year's countdown and the revulsion of watching anything hosted by Cheryl Hickey.

These limited television options are likely to be my only ones this New Year's Eve, another stay-at-home celebration at the Murray house. We'll hunker down in sleeping bags on the TV-room floor, let the kids stay up as late as they want, watch videos and the countdown, and poke Mom awake at midnight to wish her Happy New Year.

Boring, yes, but it certainly beats the alternative.

One of my first real New Year's Eve parties was in my hometown a few years after high school. It took place in a tavern and I spent a good chunk of the night in conversation with a former classmate whose name I had completely forgotten. It went something like this:

"You don't remember me, do you?"

"Of course I do."

"Yeah? You think you're a bigshot, doncha? Too good for the rest of us, arencha?"

"No really I don't."

"Oh yeah? So what's my name?"

"Hey, man, isn't New Year's all about looking forward and letting go of the past?"

It went on and on. Just before midnight I ended up cornered by a girl I knew was going to plant a kiss on me - a kiss that by this point I knew was going to be one part sentiment and three parts slobber.

During an earlier December 31 I found myself with my first serious girlfriend drinking ill-gotten cheap wine on an outdoor heating grate. As we shivered towards midnight, I said something like, "May the new year be filled with peace, happiness and you." I had rehearsed this in my head, and in my fantasy my girlfriend melted into my arms. But as soon as the words had left my mouth, I wanted to reach out and grab them back before they hit their destination.

Sure enough, my girlfriend (soon to be ex-girlfriend) went "Huh?" and laughed mockingly. This incident alone was enough to forever turn me off romance, New Year's Eve, and heating grates.

To avoid smelly taverns and romantic pitfalls, it's better just to play it safe and stay at home. No surprises, thanks.

Of course, this New Year's Eve will be unique in that one second will be added to the year to align the world's atomic clocks with ever-slowing celestial time. In other words, 2005 will go into overtime.

It's not a lot of time, but we're urged to make every second count, especially on sentimental old New Year's Eve. ("I love you, man, even if you can't remember my name.") So here are some suggestions on how to spend this year's extra second:

  • Make a wish.

  • Grab the last piece of smoked salmon.

  • Say "Hey, look over there!" and run away from the person you least want to ring in the new year with.

  • Take the first swing.

  • Pucker up.
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