Anyway, I'm at Afrah, munching on a piece of pita bread and trying to figure out if I have any great rituals to mark the passing of another year. I know I used to, but that was back when A. I drank alcohol and B. I felt like it was necessary to actually go out on New Years Eve. That I can't remember what they were is, you know, just par for the course. I got home, that's the important thing. At some point I began staying home, which was just, you know, smart. The year that 1999 begat 2000, Joan and I drank an entire bottle of Asti Spumante and began firing a cap gun off the balcony of our overpriced San Diego apartment. Then Joan staggered back out onto the balcony and yelled, loud enough to be heard in Tijuana, "'Sokay, everybody! 'Sjust a cap gun!" because she was worried somebody might call the cops. So far as I know, no one did, though a scared little voice floated in and said, "Thank you," very faintly from another balcony. (Call the cops. Ha. In our fine Texas neighborhood, a whole gang of morons, no doubt led by my idiot neighbor, open fire on the sky right around midnight, and the cops don't even bother to call back.)
New Years Eve is the one time of year I kind of miss alcohol. Not enough to go back, but there's something kind of homey about lolling around on your couch, pleasantly drunk, playing "spot the facelift scars" on Dick Clark's head while the crystal ball (made in Ireland, by the way, at the Waterford Crystal Factory) descends over Times Square. This is, of course, assuming I can even stay awake until midnight; I'm pretty sure that last year I curled up in a blanket, rang in the New Year with Maine and Florida and promptly fell asleep. And that was without alcohol (six years sober, y'all.) I'm gettin' old, Zeke.
So, apart from falling asleep, I don't really have any rituals to ring in the New Year. Every year I plan to get the house clean before the ball drops, and every year that kind of doesn't happen. House blessing? Burning sage? Casting a couple of spells? Nah. Never happens. The guns go off, if we're still conscious we hide under the dining room table, and in the morning we're about the only two among our circle of friends who aren't hung over. Which is great, but no claim to fame, really. We're also the only two that probably didn't go anywhere.
Some friends at work who happen to be from Mexico were talking today about "the grapes." Apparently on New Years Eve in Mexico and other Latin American countries, you try to swallow one grape for every time the bell tolls at midnight, and each one begets a wish. (Allergic to grapes over here, so can't do that, but that's an easy way to get a dozen wishes, if you ask me.) There's also something you do with a suitcase, but I was a little unclear on that. Maybe you put grapes in it. In France they're fond of fireworks, in Russia everybody's supposed to be quiet for the last twelve seconds of the old year, and in Scotland your year's luck is determined by the first person to set foot in your house after midnight. (Ouch. I wonder what happens if the first person is a lost American tourist with a full bottle of whiskey, a set of plastic bagpipes and a really bad map of Edinburgh? I mean, that could herald the Apocalypse.)
What do Buddhists do for the New Year? Well, hey, if they're part of Brother ChiSing's gang, you have a New Years Purification Ceremony. (Buddhists are big on ceremonies.) If you're more Zen, you're probably just going to meditate quietly somewhere. And if you're me--well, yeah, you're probably hiding under the dining room table. Dang, but those guns are loud.
Happy New Year, everybody!