It’s becoming increasingly apparent that my husband has an aversion to kissing me on New Year’s Eve.
I’m trying hard not to take it personally. But after five straight years of ringing in the New Year without so much as a peck on the cheek, I’m starting to wonder if the lovey-dovey vows Rick tearfully delivered during our wedding ceremony weren’t just a ruse to get one of the mini grilled cheese sandwiches on top of the shot glasses filled with warm tomato soup that were passed around during the cocktail hour at the reception afterward.
New Year’s Eve has never been included on my list of favorite national holidays with Administrative Professional’s (née Secretary’s) Day and Fat Tuesday. Except for the year I ran a race in Central Park at midnight and chugged champagne at the rest stations in lieu of water, it’s been a perennial disappointment. It’s kind of like the Joe Gillis to my Norma Desmond.
One year when I lived in New York, my friends and I went to a restaurant aptly named Lemon on New Year’s Eve. For $175 a person, we got stuck with a server so hostile and disinterested in our dining experience that we couldn’t decide if only seeing him twice in five hours was good or bad. Whatever the meal was supposed to be more closely resembled Play-Doh in taste and appearance than actual food. And instead of the promised flowing drinks, the toilets in the bathroom were the only things overflowing. Retrieving our coats at the end of the night took an hour and a half, catching a cab home took another hour. I swore it was the last time I would expect anything on the evening of Dec. 31 other than the advent of Jan 1.
Which is why when Rick and I rang in our first New Year together, I proudly considered myself low maintenance for genuinely wanting nothing more out of the night than a smooch when the clock struck 12. We sat on the decrepit couch in his apartment that might have been condemned in a city with higher standards (or any at all) and watched movies on basic cable. When midnight beckoned, he was fast asleep, drooling on the armrest. I didn’t have the heart to wake him up or dry him off.
The following year, when we were living together (in a neutral, more sanitary location), I went outside to watch the fireworks at midnight alone, although his presence was felt nonetheless. In fact, his snoring almost drowned out the sound of the explosions.
On Dec. 31, 2006, we had people over to the new home we had just bought for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Later we walked to our friends’ house for drinks and dessert. By the time everyone went out on the balcony to watch the fireworks at midnight, Rick was sound asleep on their couch.
When I was about four minutes pregnant on New Year’s Eve in 2007, we went out for a casual dinner and then home to watch a DVD. Excited about what the coming months would deliver (or, more accurately, what I would deliver), I implored him to stay awake so we could ring in 2008 together. But Harry singing “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top” to Sally in “The Sharper Image” coincided with the stroke of midnight, and the combination of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the fireworks outside our bedroom window promptly lulled Rick into a deep slumber.
Last year we were all set for a cozy night at home with a pizza delivery, game of Boggle and full pot of coffee, when Rick called from work to report a breaking news story — bomb threats in banks — and because he works at a newspaper, he wouldn’t be home that evening. Had there been a flicker of hope that we could recreate the intimate evening the next night, they were dashed when he went and got a concussion that afternoon.
The bar for this Dec. 31 couldn’t be any lower. While we’re planning a night similar to last year (minus the bombs), I assume I’ll be dining and playing alone. A few weeks ago we had plans to go to a Hanukkah party when he warned me he was covering a court hearing that day that could be a “marathon.” A few hours before the party, however, he said he’d definitely be able to make it because the hearing had been postponed — until New Year’s Eve.
Maybe next year.
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