January 1 - Yes I Can't

It’s a new year. A new decade it turns out. For me the event arrived in my mother’s living room with my family and I holding candles. Apparently my mom prefers creepiness to champagne.

The TV was solicited for the glorious count down to 2010, spearheaded by local sportscaster Mark Giangreco. The impatient, counting, televised crowd got ahead of the clock. It seems every one wanted 2009 over with in a hurry.


I rang in the new decade pointing at the TV and laughing at the incompetent mob. Meanwhile my family clanged candles and my mom blasted a James Taylor song, creating a cacophony with the TV’s new year’s dance mix. 23 seconds of dancing occurred, and I thought this a good time to grab a second beer. Before I made it to the fridge it was announced that the night was over. It was four minutes after midnight. Already in their pajamas my vanishing family retreated upstairs like a woozy pit crew. My Mom took the couch, indicating that I would be on the living room floor. Lights out. New Year’s was over before it began. Sort of.

At 5am my Mom was five feet away in the kitchen. She was preparing breakfast by candlelight. It smelled delicious and later I would appreciate the weirdness, but at the moment I had a rigid hunger for sleep. By 6 o’clock the alluring scent of bacon had summoned the rest of the family downstairs. Sleep was a lost cause. So I went to the bathroom and then weighed myself, to ensure maximum self-esteem. The scale put me thirteen pounds over my driver’s license weight. Fuck you, me.

My adoring family would say I was grumpy or crabby. The rest of the planet would say I was a shitty asshole. It took me several minutes to comprehend putting fruits, sausage and bacon on a plate and plopping down at the table, barely managing a “good morning.” Jeez, man. My aunt asked the curmudgeon or lump if it was still doing delivery work.


My aunt has a very cute Minnesota accent. It’s even cuter when she asks if you’re still riding a bike during the winter.

“No. Now I just sit in a van and gain weight.”

I couldn’t tell if I was conveying how miserable I let my day job make me. We talked about my dead end vocation some more. I got bleak.

After breakfast I packed my bag for the night I would inevitably be having back home alone. It looked as though the year would start off on a loss.

While some of the family attended an unnecessary church service, and the rest watched the Rose Bowl parade, I quarantined myself upstairs and read Paul Shaffer’s new memoir. It’s a fun, scattered tale that reads like Yes I Can Lite. I gained insight into Phil Spector’s devotion to mono recording (Cliff Notes: control) and absorbed a Sammy Davis-inspired line that struck a chord with me: “The great players never rush.”

So I decided not to rush and keep the verdict for the day open.

The first call of 2010 to my girlfriend proved fun. Lauren is in Pittsburgh visiting her family and we humorously commiserated with each other over our goofy family trifles. With a little perspective things got better.

During a game of Scrabble, my Mom played the word “vagina.” Later my cousin tacked an L at the end of it for a double word score. I tried to use the word “entrailforks,” but it was rejected. When a ghoulish fiend invents entrailforks, I’ll want those 42 points.

After a delicious pork tenderloin I introduced the family to my favorite game: Celebrity. Celebrity is the last of the great parlour games. Basically, you write down celebrity names on slips of paper, pair up into partners, and in one-minute rounds give Password-style clues to your partner, who has to guess the celebrity. It’s fun, and loud, and wonderful to see how people’s minds work or don’t.

Some celebrities of note on this night included: Cat Cora, J.R. Ewing, The Sullivan Brothers, Susan Boyle, Capt. Sully Sullenberger, The Octomom, and Red Green. No one challenged my submission of Rona Barrett, but when I got it, I couldn’t get my mom to say barrette. But she got it when I inferred “grin and bear it.”

Eerily, in the first game my cousin and I both put in The San Diego Chicken. And in the third game my aunt and I both submitted Bartles & James. That’s some spooky kookiness.

My family took to Celebrity. We all had big fun, especially when Mom dropped the F-bomb during an unsuccessful turn at Derek Jeter. Or when I misunderstood during Octomom that the celebrity in question actually ate children. But she and I ended up being very good Celebrity partners, winning all three games.

By the time the games concluded, it was late (not really) and I’d had a few beers (well, two…over the course of four hours). So I decided to stay another night. Because I wanted to.

Verdict: Win

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