The Beanstalk


by David N. Townsend


December 31, 1997
9:12 PM


Okay, here we go.

Happy New you know the rest.

Getting started here . . . moving right along . . .

New Year's Eve, the dawn of 1998, two years before the Millenium (3 if you're nitpicky).

New Year's has always been a downer holiday for me. We emphasized Christmas so much as kids, and we often went skiing over New Year's, so I was asleep in an isolated cabin at midnight. By the time I was a teenager, I used to attend teenage New Year parties, secure in the knowlesge that no girl was going to throw her arms around me and kiss me at midnight. So what was the point, really?

I took to hanging out in a back room with a couple of friends, listening to Led Zeppelin. I made it a point to try not to notice when it was midnight: you know, glance at my watch and, "hey, it's 12:08!" It just always seemed the most insipid moment of the whole year, for whole masses of people to count down and cheer a single second. (Of course, by contrast, to put on ghoulish masks at Halloween and parade around in public was, and remains, a noble and revered tradition.)

Meanwhile, however, I could never resist the urge to rejoin the party, walk up to someone, and say, "Hey, man, how're you doin'? I haven't seen you since last year!" No one ever laughs at that, but some things you just gotta do.

So what am I doing tonight? Hint: it's about 20 outside, and to get in to Boston's "First Night" would involve driving on slippery roads in heavy traffic among likely drunk drivers, and squeezing into smelly, slushy subway cars, all to stand in line at various overcrowded events and pretzel concessions.

My New Year's Eve thus consists of:

Happy New Year, indeed!

(On the other hand, New Year's Eve to Filippinos is a huge holiday, maybe even bigger than Christmas, with fireworks and dancing in the streets. I think the weather has something to do with it. So my wife and her son have gone to join her family in the heart of the madness, New York City.)

12:40 AM

I just said to Alexandra, "Shouldn't you put on your nightgown and brush your teeth?" She said, "I'm not sleepy. I'll do it when I start to feel sleepy." Thirty seconds later, she's snoring.

Here's what's wrong with Eternal Youth: Dick Clark, 1998. In human years, he was old in the 1970s; these days, he's approaching Strom Thurmondland. But, superficially, he looks about the same as he did in 1955. (Hyper-plug here for some Rock 'n' Roll.) Look a little closer, however, and you can almost hear the skin in his face screaming, "Please, let us die! Let us die!"

Tonight's pleasant discovery: the Cartoon Network, especially "Space Ghost Coast to Coast," or "Cartoon Planet," I'm not sure which it's called. Amateur, goofy, crude, and ingenious, in the manner of Mystery Science Theater 3000, or the early David Letterman. If that stuff appeals to you, then Cartoon Network is one more refuge from the revolting refuse of most contemprary mass entertainment (about which you'll be hearing a great deal more in future Beanstalks).

Turner Classic Movies also did a great service to the Me's of the world tonight: a marathon of Marx Brothers movies. Here's a great Groucho line I'd never heard before from Go West, otherwise one of the more forgettable Marx Bros films:

"How about if I take you to my country cottage at Drooling on the Lapel?"

Finally, Resolutions, since we gotta do 'em:

  1. In 1998, I resolve to make more responsible use of antihistimines.
  2. I resolve to make a sincere attempt, on a regular basis, to keep the window shades in my house drawn to approximately equal length.
  3. I resolve to reprogram the preset buttons on my car radio to better accommodate my family's varied musical tastes.
  4. In keeping with (3), I resolve to learn at least one of the names of the Spice Girls.
  5. I resolve to be nicer to innocent airline employees when circumstances beyond their personal control force cancellation or delay of my flight. No I don't.
  6. I resolve to hit the gym at least twice a week, to eat healthier meals, to get to bed at a reasonable hour, to manage money more sensibly, and to write this column at least 3 times a week. Hah, snuck that one in the middle.
  7. I resolve to upload at least as often as I download.
  8. I resolve not to listen to Talk Radio or watch Infomercials, except as bonafide research for the Beanstalk's campaign to inform and enlighten the rest of you about such crucial elements of our decaying culture. Really.
  9. I resolve to buy a new pair of pants.
  10. I resolve to do everything that I'm going to do anyway, thus assuring that I will keep the majority of my resolutions, making me a Highly Effective Person.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Just after midnight (Alexandra and I cheered for Jen and Jordan at the New York Ball Dropping), Alexandra's new pet bunny was hopping around in the kitchen. I called to it, "Hey, Sammy, where've you been? I haven't seen you since last year!"

Alexandra laughed.


1998 David N. Townsend

The Beanstalk grows out of my head, so to speak, but I welcome
any seeds that readers may wish to plant.  Just as long as you don't use
too much fertilizer.  Send me your comments, ideas, drool, at
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