The Decade So Bad It Shall Remain Nameless

Is over. On the eve of the new decade, we were in Provincetown, but were unable to have our annual beach fire because of snow and high wind. At the annual ritual, we jot down things we want to burn up from the old year and toss them in the fire.

Some whiny friends seemed relieved that we called it off, but even I could not have gotten my secret fire starter, the duraflame log [known in Manhattan as deli-wood] started. And the snow would have wreaked havoc with our planned paper mache piñata of Joe Lieberman. Instead we lit our papers as we stood on the front porch and let the wind take the ash onto the snowy garden. No telling what that mulch will do to the day lilies come spring.

We clomped back into the warm house for a potluck dinner that had been intentionally carbo-loaded for cold people returning from the rigors of a long winter beach fire. My Indianized lasagna, loaded with hoarded leftovers – curried chickpeas, coconut green beans, and reduced turmeric ricotta – was a big hit. Everyone had “just a sliver” of chocolate mousse cake with the dark chocolate frosting with white frostinged “Peace, Love, Forgiveness and Joy” brought by our favorite Buddhist.

After dinner, before the torpor of the holiday meal hit, we talked. From the probable retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stevens, to the gay death penalty in Uganda, gay marrying in New Hampshire, to the David Boies/Ted Olsen Prop 8 gambit, to repeal chances for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to the yummy chocolate mousse cake. I brought that up.

Though not as dreary as some glum dinners during the Bush years, we bummed ourselves about President Obama’s challenges in the new year: The Great Recession, The Health Insurance Bill, bankster bonuses, joblessness, mid-term elections and the Christmas terrorist threat. Not the papal tackler at the ten o’clock midnight mass at the Vatican. Real gate-crashers. Despite all kinds of dots to connect – a distraught father at the US Embassy, a name on the terror watch list, and a one-way ticket – the CIA, the FBI and Homeland Insecurity are still getting on like cats in a sack.

One astute guest wondered, “Why do terrorists even buy one-way tickets?” They are a first alert red flag for terrorist watchers. Ask anyone who has just been frisked in the line for the NY to DC shuttle. Round-trip tickets are cheaper. It’s not like terrorist ticket buyers are going to be penalized if they don’t use the return flight. They’ll be above the friendly skies with their seventy-two black-eyed virgins or golden raisins, depending on which Koran translation you’re using, fundamentalist or food channel.

Everybody was allowed to leave before ten p.m., the new Catholic midnight, to observe his or her own rituals for bringing in the New Year. Even though I think it might be bad form to tell you, I burned “television watching”. Nonetheless, as we were cleaning up the kitchen, I turned on the TV so we could watch the ball drop, get annoyed by the uberhost Ryan Seacrest and worry about Dick Clark, but our two-year-old TV had died! Dead. Perhaps the CNN Kathy Griffin appearance killed the TV when we weren’t looking.

I hope the rest of my incinerated items get as immediate a response. Again, I won’t tell you what they were, but here’s a hint: look at the top of the cake.