I spent New Year’s Eve at Joyce’s, just the two of us. She had me put on a tuxedo (“you look like a young James Bond”), she was in an evening gown, and we had a couple bottles of sparking cider to celebrate. Neither of us likes champagne, and sparkling cider tastes great. Instead of dinner, Joyce made a huge spread of appetizers that she served all evening long.
So we had the first of the sparkling cider and some of the appetizers (including the caviar on little pancakes) and hung out, with just the right kind of music in the background. Pretty much the opposite of country – the kind of music people Joyce’s age would listen to in a fancy place in New York or somewhere. I looked at one of the CDs: some dude named Harry Connick Jr.. Not exactly what I’m used to…but it doesn’t hurt your ears. Joyce said you can dance to it. Which meant we were going to.
Ok, I gotta confess this to y’all before I go any farther. I can’t dance. I mean, I have legs and arms and all that, and I can hear the music, but when I start to move I look like a total white boy. I’m even worse than most total white boys. Y’all know that “Alcohol” song by Brad Paisley – the one where he says drinking helps white people dance? Ok, there ain’t enough alcohol in the world to make me anything but a lameass klutz. (That’s one of those words I picked up from Shoshanah. We used to joke about my dancing. My other girlfriends never got a chance to joke about it, because I just gave up trying and they never got to see how pathetic I am.) You may be thinking that since I’m athletic and move well on a baseball diamond that I should be able to dance. Nope. Ask me to move to music and it’s sad. I can’t even line dance.
I’ll do anything to get out of having to dance. Usually saying “this music sucks” gets you off the hook, but sometimes you have to get creative. I made up this story one year in college about having trouble with one of my ankles and how the team doctor said I should save it for baseball. Only problem was that once I’d had a couple I’d forget which ankle was supposed to be the bad one. I got busted once. Never saw that chick again lol. Another time I got so desperate that I actually told the chick I was a Baptist. (I still feel bad about that one, but it worked.)
So there I was, in my tuxedo, with my girlfriend in an evening gown, and this Harry Connick dude playing and it was supposed to be all cool and sophisticated. So not only was there my problem with not being able to dance…there was the problem that, even if I could, I didn’t know how to dance to that kind of music. But I gotta hand it to Joyce: she had a lot of patience with me. I didn’t know that she likes to do that kind of dancing. She’s even taken classes. So she tried to teach me, and, by the end, I didn’t feel like I was a total disgrace. I don’t think I want Joyce to sign us up for lessons, but I reckon she thought we were having fun. We sure laughed a lot.
Still, I was glad when it was over and I got to have a beer and sit down. Joyce brought in a really good baked brie and bread kind of thing, but it was a little messy to eat, especially in a rented tux. (That did make a good excuse for taking off my jacket.) We just hung out for a while, which was cool, then Joyce got me to dance a little more. I was glad that I remembered most of what she taught me. So I kinda knew what I was doing…even if I probably wasn’t doing it well. (I’ll give myself credit for one thing: I didn’t step on Joyce’s foot once.)
I left Joyce in charge of picking out the movies we were going to watch. I know she loves to watch that old movie channel, so I reckoned that we were going to watch that kind of movie. They’re not exactly my thing, but I’ve gotten through watching a few of them without falling asleep. (Unless we’re watching them in bed, but I fall right asleep the minute I’m in bed and watching TV no matter what’s on.)
She chose Bull Durham as the first part of the double feature. I’ve seen it a whole bunch of times – y’all can imagine how many times we played the DVD in apartment 643. This was Joyce’s first time seeing it, and she kept asking me how much it was like the real thing, since one thing I definitely know about is minor league ball in North Carolina. The answer is that some things are exaggerated, things were different 30 years ago, I’m a lot younger than Kevin Costner’s character (and Joyce said I’m better looking than Tim Robbins lol), but, yeah, a lot of the movie is pretty true to life.
Joyce had timed everything out so that the movie would be over and we’d have done the make your own sundae thing just in time to pop open the second bottle of cider for midnight. (Just so y’all know, it takes me a while to construct the perfect banana split. I think Joyce was worried we’d miss midnight, but a banana split is not something you can rush.)
So we had our toast and kiss at midnight, finished our ice cream, and then Joyce pulled out the second movie she’d planned: Aladdin. Joyce says it’s her favorite Disney movie, and I gotta admit it’s hilarious every time you see it. (Ever since I was a little kid, my favorite part is when Abu gets turned into the elephant.) I wasn’t too sure about it at first, but it was an awesome choice. Just the right happy note to start 2019 with.
We slept in and missed the parade on TV, although it’s pretty lame to watch a parade on TV when it’s only a 5 minute drive from where you are to the parade route. This was the first breakfast that I got to wear the bathrobe to…and Joyce had a really cool surprise in store. She made biscuits and fried eggs and extra crispy bacon like she makes most mornings I’m there…but then she brought out something I haven’t had since I left home: chocolate gravy.
Ok, hold on you Yankees, don’t start thinking that there’s any actual gravy in chocolate gravy, like that weirdass Mexican chicken dish with the chocolate in it. Chocolate gravy is kind of like really thick cocoa, and you pour it over biscuits. I think it’s a mountain thing. Papaw and Meemaw’s closest neighbor had an Appalachian wife, and she taught Meemaw how to make chocolate gravy, and she taught Mom. It wasn’t something we had every day, or even once a week, but we did always have it for Christmas and New Year’s Day. Joyce remembered I told her about it and looked up a recipe on the internet. It tasted just like the real thing, and I must have had four biscuits covered with the stuff. That was just awesome.
I wasn’t sure when it was going to be safe to head home, although I reckoned that the people camping out would be gone and Colorado would be clear by 1. I was right, although there was still one hell of a mess for the city to clean up.
Y’all can guess the rest of my New Year’s Day: over to Keaton’s for the Rose Bowl and then the Sugar Bowl. Keaton looked tired: he said he had a hard night keeping the peace on New Year’s Eve. (He calls it “night of the living yahoos.”) He told me he had to get pretty rough with a couple assholes (the kind who are assholes before they get drunk), including one who wanted to prove he was tougher than the bouncer. I suspect Keaton enjoyed adjusting that dude’s attitude more than he let on.
The thing that really sucked for him was the comeback Washington made in the 4th quarter of the Rose Bowl. He had money on Ohio State by 12 and he was home free…until that comeback. But he made some of it up on the next game. (One day I’ll explain to y’all why I don’t bet on sports.)
So I had an awesome time welcoming in 2019. I hope it’s an amazing year for all of us.