As 2017 bows to the new year barreling toward humanity, people either welcome with fanfare the possibilities of a clean slate or bid adieu to the familiar and brace for change. In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes (one for each coming month) for good fortune—easy enough to adhere to for centuries. Ecuador, well, they construct scarecrows of politicians and burn them in effigy. In Naples, Italy, street revelers tend to duck as furniture throwing symbolizes a fresh start by eliminating old possessions, such as lamps and toasters.
In the flyover states, it’s business as usual with an additional fancy cocktail or two before midnight.
It’s not that the Heartland inhabitants are party-poopers; lavish celebrations tend to be viewed as silly. When the 10-second countdown to a new year begins, instead of searching for a special someone to smooch, common sense Midwesterners realize that at one second past midnight, nothing will be different except the date. How is that cause for drinking to excess and groping another person? But you don’t have to take my word for it; I resorted to the experts at the Liar’s Roundtable for back-up.
The ever-gallant Quintin, decked out in a jaunty red sweater atop an Oxford button-down, dodged and weaved the question of past (and potentially wild) New Year’s celebrations and only admitted to his antics in the 1960s; prior to being a married man. “There was always a lot of work to be done, and after Christmas, it just seemed prudent to behave oneself.” He then elbow-jabbed Donnie in the ribs and said, “Your past is much more entertaining, but possibly too R-rated for mixed company.” Donnie just grinned and took a sip of coffee as his mind wandered back in time to his misspent youth while the rest of the table chuckled at a past to which I would not be made privy.
What’s on 2018’s Agenda?
My gentlemen friends at the roundtable were looking forward to 2018 and the infuriating antics of our Swamp Dwellers. They each brought to the conversation their predictions for the upcoming mid-term elections and future stagnation or success of President Trump’s agenda. Mike, loose with his opinions as always, predicted the ensuing 12 months with his version of political speed-analysis:
“That Bannon fella will have the Never-Trumpers on the last train outta Dodge. Once the elections roll around, we are going to see new faces replacing the old regime. Mark my words, after what will surely be a mean bunch of campaigning from the Democrats, we will start 2019 ready to steamroll ahead. People are sick and tired of Washington sitting around and crying ‘cause they lost.”
For clarification, I asked if he meant if the new and shiny people would be conservative, to which he replied, “isn’t that what I just said?”
Richard, as usual, observed our lively discussion without much comment, but finally joined in the conversation once it was rolling along, “I will pay closer attention to the upcoming elections, and as you know, I’m not a big fan of our president. At least how he at times is a blustering bully, but he is the Commander in Chief and he needs a good army beside him to do the work that the people elected him to do. Maybe he will settle down in the next year.”
I didn’t want to burst his hope bubble. But Mike did and pounced, “You know he is always going to have access to that Tweeting thing.”
The gentlemen all shared their plans for ringing in the New Year. A quiet night at home with the wife was Donnie’s idea of celebrating. Quintin was babysitting grandchildren to let his kids paint the town and Richard was having dinner at the VFW with friends. The common-sense Midwestern celebrations will be subtle, lacking fanfare and false declarations of resolutions that will not last past Valentine’s Day. Who needs resolutions when you live the best you can, day in and day out? At least that’s what Quintin told me after he assured me no one in Attica would be tossing furniture out of windows on December 31st.