Guest Bloggers: Jill Bauer, Ron Almgren

Jill Bauer: For New Year's, a date with a DVD

Five, four, three, two ... Happy New Year?

Everything about New Year's Eve says two. Table for two, two clinking champagne flutes, two people finding each other in a crowded room for that midnight kiss. "Table for two? Right this way."
Early on, I learned an important lesson about New Year's Eve: It's the wrong night to be with the Wrong One.
But I didn't know any of this back in 1976, when I was a precocious and curious 13-year-old embarking on what would turn out to be a long dating future.
Sylvia, my grandmother's neighbor, a small, aggressive, bleach-blonde, had a proposition for my grandmother: "Would one of your pretty little grand- daughters like to go out on New Year's Eve with my handsome grandson who will be visiting from Israel?"
Sylvia and her husband, Abe, had New Year's Eve plans and wanted to be sure their grandson was spoken for.
I accepted the set-up with cheerful anticipation. Especially after speaking to Sylvia's grandson over the phone a couple of days before the big night.
"He has a nice, deep voice," I told my mom while prancing around our blue-green flower patterned kitchen floor. "I can't wait to meet him. What a great way to celebrate New Year's Eve," I cheered.
But before the Big Night, we agreed to meet in the lobby of our grandmothers' building.
I arrived in the lobby around noon the day before New Year's Eve and waited for Mr. Deep Voice. And there he was. Tall, thin and, well, not exactly what I'd envisioned. He had a mustard-colored sweater draped over his forearm and insisted on showing me his newly shined black shoes – the ones he was planning to wear in the Israeli army (a big turnoff for me). How, I wondered, would I ever get out of this? How could I break a date with Sylvia's grandson?
Instead, I came face to face with Grandma Sylvia and tried my darnedest to get out of it.
"Really, I'd like to go out with your grandson tomorrow night," I told her. "But ... ." And then all I can remember is Sylvia cornering me in her bedroom closet and sticking her toothy grin way too close to my face, telling me I will absolutely go out with her grandson.
"He has no place else to go," Sylvia said. "I'm counting on you."
Fast-forward 15 years to New Year's Eve 1991. I'm out with another guy. A guy I'm really into, a guy who's tall and handsome and funny. And suddenly he mentions that we'll be spending the next day with his family, including his grandmother, Sylvia.
No, I think, cringing. It can't possibly be. It was.
So on New Year's, Sylvia corners me. But this time I ask for her forgiveness. It is, after all, a new year.
"Absolutely not," Sylvia barks, after my sincere plea. "I will never forget, and I will never forgive."
Well, I do hope that Sylvia has forgiven me by now. But either way, I owe her a debt of gratitude for teaching me my very first important New Year's Eve lesson: It's a bad night for a blind date.
But beyond that, I have learned the greatest lesson of all: One is definitely not the loneliest number. Sure, the animal kingdom didn't board Noah's Ark one-by-one but still, there is something to be said for being with the one you love, or at least the one you like very much.
So this year, barring any last-minute twists of fate, I'm planning to stay home. And I'm actually looking forward to it. I know that nothing about this night says, "Great, perfect time to read Joan Didion's book on loss." Nothing about New Year's Eve tells us to order a pizza and settle in with our copy of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Nothing about this night – the fireworks displays, the honking horns at midnight, our next-door neighbor's woofers – says gray sweats, worn T-shirt, thick, comfy socks. Nothing says, "Table for one."
But this year I'm writing my own rules. This year I'm planning to enjoy the pleasure of my own company. And if I get lonely, I can always give Sylvia a call. Who knows? Maybe she's got an eligible grandson.

Jill Bauer is a Miami freelance writer [and Miranda Moure's Mom].

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[Milkshake would like to thank Ronny and Mama for making my blog interesting today. "A Date With a DVD", Jill Bauer for Dallas Morning News, "Things That Taste Better Than Bacon", Ron Almgren for my G-Mail inbox. I would also like to point out that Grandma Sylvia is my old landlord Diane's mom. I never had the opportunity to meet her myself, but if she was anything like Diane, she was completely awesome with a side of Jewish-Hard-Core. --M]

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