Ah, New Year’s Eve. As a child, there’s nothing more exciting than the thrill of staying awake for the turning of the year. That’s why analog clocks were invented…so you can watch each second tick away the hour from 11 pm to MIDNIGHT!!
Milestone years are the most fun. The year I anticipated as a child was the year 2000. Not only did we start a new year, but we started a new decade, a new score. A new century! A NEW MILLENNIUM!
However, some goof ball came along and decided that he hadn’t gotten enough attention as a kid and invented a theory called the Y2K Bug. The months leading up to the New Year were filled with conspiracy theories on how the computers wouldn’t know what to do with a date that read “00.” In evening church we watched a video on “What Would Happen When Computers Throw Us Back Into the Middle Ages” while the producers hawked $400.00 survival packs filled with grain. With all our processed foods that we eat, they have to sell survival packs? Pretty much anything on the canned food shelf in the pantry will last for 20 years. Oh, to have lived in the 1960s when people thought by the year 2000 computers would have become self-aware and have taken over the world. As a computer programmer, my father worked on the Y2K bug at his work (and all he got was a lousy T-shirt), and told us there was nothing to fear. Without the scare of Whytookay, my family enjoyed the changing of the 19 hundreds to the 20 hundreds and watched as our world wasn’t plunged into darkness.
I was also extra excited for 2000 because it was a census year and I could not wait to see them change the population sign outside our tiny little farm town. After all, my family had moved there since the last census and even if they weren’t going to change the sign from 850 to 856, the population may have reached 900. (Insert a sigh here to the optimism of youth.) To my chagrin, I noticed that the stupid sign never changed. This was before I realized that the state/local government wasn’t about to shell out money to ex-cons to make a new sign for a minimal change in population. Not when they were still paying off the “Extra Large” Y2K survival pack for the offices at the County Seat.
But wait! I still haven’t gotten to the most recent New Year’s Eve party that took place just days ago. My Amtrak train left early on the 1st to return to my home, 500 miles away from my parent’s, so on the 31st they drove me 3 hours to Kansas City where we stayed in a hotel. (What weirdo has their parents rent a hotel room on New Year’s Eve?) Thankfully, I could watch YouTube, and my parents totally rocked out the switch to 2011 watching Michael J. Fox in a “Back to the Future” marathon. I can almost feel the jealousy seething out of you. Yet this night gets better. About halfway through the evening, we realized the room sweltered. When Dad tried to lower the thermostat on the heater, he realized it was still blowing out hot air. Much like David Letterman on a good day. Dad, who optimistically believes that things are supposed to work like they’re made to, spent a good chunk of time frustrated at the heater’s capricious mechanics. “I have it set at 60 degrees. Why is it blowing out warm air still? Okay, after I press fan and then press heat again, it sets itself back on 73. Why does it try to do my thinking for me?”
I don’t know if there could be a better way to greet a new year. Maybe the Mayans are right* and the world ends in 2012. It would have to be something that exciting because unless my dad is arguing with a thermometer and my mother is yelling while watching the TV, “Look, it’s the year 2000 in Sydney and their lights are still on!” then all I have to say is “yawn.”
* They’re not.