September 19, 2019

New Year’s daze

Poor 2001.

No one is talking about it. Even the purists who insist that this is the real turn of the millennium seem to have lost a little bit of fervor. After all the excitation and speculation surrounding Y2K, ushering in this new year seems like a nonevent.

This time last year, doomsayers predicted the end of the world, the sky falling or at least some major network crashing. Fashion magazines declared silver the shade of the millennium (note to accessorizers: it was replaced by gold shortly after Jan. 1). Martha Stewart Living published a special New Year’s entertaining guide, to ensure everyone’s hors d’oeuvres were Y2K-compliant. And for once, no one had to party like it was 1999 – it WAS 1999.

The sky didn’t fall. Death and destruction did not envelop the world. The lights didn’t even flicker. My e-mail was still up and running. The ball in Times Square descended as planned. Dick Clark was there. No major computer networks crashed – even those Commodore 64s from the ’80s seemed to have made it into the 21st century intact. People the world over had a nice time, letting out a collective sigh of relief when the clocks turned in Australia and nothing bad happened.

Maybe 2000 was the real nonevent.

For all the hype, it was no big deal. Another new year, celebrated with loved ones – maybe even fewer loved ones than usual, because many people stayed home to avoid major cities, air travel and other Y2K-related concerns.

Many months beforehand, “experts” started speculating about glitches caused by computers “thinking” it was 1900 instead of 2000. Magazines started churning out millennial menus, Y2K cocktail recipes and a zillion plans for the party of the century. Hotels and cruise lines started offering “getaway of the millennium” packages with exorbitant rates. Singers followed suit, planning “concerts of the millennium” with equally breathtaking ticket prices. People planned early, and changed their plans often.

This was, after all, a once-in-a-lifetime event. A big deal. A chance to do something different. The weird thing is, so many people were so wrapped up in planning for Y2K, 2000, the millennium, or whatever you want to call it, that it wasn’t any fun. Or, more accurately, it was a letdown. How couldn’t it be? We had been preparing for it for what seemed like forever. I remember listening to Prince’s “1999” when I was in sixth grade and wondering what kind of celebration I’d have in 1999.

It was fun and undramatic, save for too much champagne. I wore a pretty dress. I danced. I ate. Nothing out of the ordinary. Ditto for most of the people I know. My parents stayed home like they do every year – they never were much for New Year’s hype. My editor and her husband climbed Cadillac Mountain wrapped in warm clothes and armed with a hot thermos, an annual tradition for them.

I never really thought about what I’d be doing to usher in 2001. I didn’t care, and, less than a week beforehand, I still don’t. I’m not sure anyone does – at least not like they did last year.

Maybe that’s the beauty of it. This year, there’s no hype. No plans. No exhausting menu to prepare (or feel like you should be preparing) or impending computer disaster to worry about. This year, we can get back to our own traditions without 8 million publications telling us what we should be wearing, eating, drinking or hoarding canned goods for.

Have your own party. Serve beer and cocktail weenies. Cook dinner for your friends. Go to a hotel. Stay home. Take your wife out to dinner. Take your husband out dancing. Climb up Cadillac Mountain in your fanciest dress – but skip the heels. Drive to Boston. Watch the ball drop. Go to bed early. Do what you want.

Just don’t play “1999” – that was SO last year.

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