Americans are suckers for lofty expectations (See: Obama, Barack, the election of). We are also well versed in the collective wallowing and grievance mongering that inevitably ensues when those expectations aren’t met (Ibid.).
The current political season offers more examples. Republican voters are competing to determine which candidate will most thoroughly defeat and destroy ISIS on day one of his or her presidency. The frontrunner has also promised to use his superior negotiating skills (which couldn’t secure a casino in Las Vegas) to get Mexico to pay for a “big, beautiful wall” along the Southern border.
The Democratic field is much less interesting, but the prohibitive frontrunner is hoping that her central message—that any female child born in this country can, through hard work and good fortune and marriage to a successful politician, one day achieve the American Dream of charging mid-six figure speaking fees to appear at investment banking conferences, and never have to drive her own car—will resonate with everyday Americans. And it probably will.
Remember how excited you were to see The Phantom Menace? Or the time Geraldo Rivera uncovered some empty liquor bottles in Al Capone’s vault? We’re constantly building things up for ourselves, only to be let down in the end. This is especially true of millenials, who were the most enthusiastic champions of “Hope and Change,” and who continue to spend unholy amounts of their parents’ hard-earned money on meaningless liberal arts degrees in the expectation that it will lead to a low-intensity, high-salary job. It’s one of the many reasons why New Year’s Day is a particularly fraught holiday, and probably the worst thing we choose to celebrate.
Maybe this year will be different? It won’t. That’s the point. You get bombarded with the same stupid question—“Got any fun plans for New Year’s?”—by people who are only asking so they can tell you about their gaudy intentions, which presumably involve dressing up as a contemporary celeb and chugging champaign cocktails from an ice luge fashioned after another contemporary celeb’s most prominent anatomical feature (Oh? You’re doing something else? You must not have a whole lot to celebrate.)
If you’re married and/or have kids, you’re probably not doing much celebrating on New Year’s Eve. Good. Because being single is a recipe for excessive anxiety and financial mismanagement on this so-called “holiday.” You’ll pay an exorbitant cover charge to hang out at some crowded bar with other singles, and spend several pre-midnight hours getting blind drunk and shouting what you imagine to be charming banter over the din of atrocious pop songs into the ear of someone you might like to make out with later. When the time comes, you’ll be drunkenly necking with someone else entirely, and the only thing you can remember is that she works in Chuck Schumer’s office and has long(ish) dark(ish) hair. You might also regret not
having brushed your teeth before leaving the house and smoking so many ill-advised cigarettes. You’ll certainly regret the fact that she seems to have followed the same routine.
Like your inevitable hangover, New Year’s Eve will linger like an unwanted (and perhaps unexplained) vomit stain on your favorite comforter. That’s because you made a “resolution” to be a better person, and this year you’re going to really focus on keeping your word. (Spoiler: You won’t.) You’ll try out that new gym in your neighborhood, but you’ll soon realize there are more constructive ways to spend an hour than pretending not to look at girls in yoga pants while “resting” on the shoulder press machine, especially once the new season of The Americans comes on. And you’ll continue to rack up those $89 monthly fees out of pure masochistic shame, if nothing else.
Nonsense. You’ll be the picture of health in 2016, you just know it. Okay, eventually you’re going to walk by a Chick-fil-A without going in. You’ll smile more and keep your temper in check, at least until February when your new girlfriend asks how your Valentine’s Day preparations are coming along, or the agent at the airline counter happily explains that your flight has been delayed 36 hours due to weather conditions and/or a Saudi billionaire who has rented the entire plane after calling urgent all-female “auditions” for his latest “music video.”
So don’t fall into the New Year’s trap of raising expectations for the future. Be more like the Stoics and incessantly assume the worst in all things for once. For example, most Carolina Panthers (this one included) wrote the team off back in August when a knee injury knocked their star wide receiver out for the season. The Panthers currently hold the best record in the NFL. See, it really is that easy. Now my only concern is the devastation that will result when the Panthers inevitably fail to win the Super Bowl.
Have a dreadful New Year, everybody.