|Posted on Sat, Dec. 28, 2002|
The most wonderful night of the year
As holidays go, New Year's Eve is the ultimate, no matter the disappointments.
Inquirer Staff Writer
There's a passage in Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita in which the title's forward adolescent, purloined by her enamored stepfather on a cross-country car ride, wonders aloud whether the odometer's many new zeros would revert to nines if the auto - if her life, of course - were put in reverse. (My father, a used-car dealer, told me years before I read the book how the mileage could be quietly spun back to any incarnation a seller desired.)
Forget time zones. Forget cultures without clocks, wrists without watches. There is one moment a year when all the nines turn to zeros, a moment that nobody, not even my father, can turn back.
How I looked forward to that. On our first New Year's Eve without a baby-sitter, my little brother and I pulled every Revere Ware pot and pan out of the cupboard and, as the constitutionally fey Clifton Webb did his best to portray John Philip Sousa on TV's Million Dollar Movie, crashed and banged our way, at midnight, all through "The Star Spangled Banner."
New Year's noise is necessary. With it, we ring in the new number, and there really is no retreat. We toast optimistic potential: War and its scythe will be urged, at least, to reckon with peace in its diaper. The irresistible need for a ruckus, for a showy, mutual embrace of hope, explains the most inexplicable behavior.
There's no sense to it, but in the years I lived in New York's Lower Manhattan, literally miles from Times Square, every Dec. 31 at 11:59 p.m. I would lift up the tenement window, breathe in the icy air, and wait, confidently wait, to hear the midnight ball-drop roar of the crowd.
The window is still open. Happy New Year to us, every one.
Contact staff writer Jeff Weinstein at 215-854-5152 or email@example.com.