I played golf on New Year’s Eve afternoon. Fifty-three degrees and sunny seemed like a no-brainer, and I was home in time to get ready for a big night with K.M., our 44th last evening of another year together. We actually made it to 11:30, which of course was after all the smooching was over with on Times Square, so it seemed official.
She brought up another New Year’s Eve, 20 years ago, when we were in Dallas, preparing for the imminent Y2K Armageddon by weaving our way through a conga line at some party we’d crashed with my brother, Bill, his wife, Lauren, and our friends, Mike and Rebecca. When midnight came and went that year, without so much as a hint of any brimstone or locusts, we toasted the new decade and kept on conga-ing, hardly missing a step.
On one turn around the room I spotted a guy sitting in a chair all alone. He looked pretty down. There was a woman consoling him, and later I mentioned to her that he seemed a little low. She told me he was her husband and that he had spent thousands of dollars over the last year, protecting them and everything in their home against the promised disasters that hadn’t come. “Apparently everything is fine,” she said.
I looked up and watched the inebriated conga line snake its way past us. “Well, maybe not fine,” I told her. “Besides, it’s early yet. Maybe we just don’t know it but the infrastructures of the world could already be in distress. Tell him there’s still hope.”
“Thanks, I will,” she said, looking at me suspiciously. “And who are you again?”
“Sorry, can’t hear you! The conga line is calling!” I shouted while scurrying back to an opening. I tried but couldn’t get close to K.M., who was surrounded by what looked like the Cowboys’ offensive line. I scowled, wishing that some invisible Y2K radiation would blow up the steroids in their biceps.
The next morning came around earlier than I’d wanted and I awoke in a fog. The red numbers from the digital clock on the nightstand read 6:15. I checked my watch, which confirmed the early hour, so apparently time had not stopped during the night.
I got up, trying not to wake K.M. and looked out the window, where traffic was moving as always on Mockingbird Lane, through stoplights that still knew when to turn yellow, red and green.
We all met in the hotel lobby an hour or so later, and after finding out that the world’s food supply, which that morning was represented by eggs Benedict, roasted potatoes and kielbasa, was still safe to eat, we headed off to the Cotton Bowl for the game between the Hogs and Longhorns.
It was a beautiful but very cold January morning, and we found our high seats in the old concrete stadium. The last time I’d been there was in 1976, when the Razorbacks had snagged the berth away from the Aggies with the NCAA’s version of the Immaculate Reception by the immortal Teddy Barnes. We weren’t a bad representative that year, beating Georgia 31-10, in Frank Broyles’ last bowl game as a head coach.
Fast-forward to that 2000 morning and now we were the SEC team. The old Southwest Conference was no more, but the two old rivals who had once dominated were meeting once again.
At the end, we were happy, taking down the 14th-ranked and favored Longhorns 27-6.
Here’s hoping your new year and decade are starting out just as fine.