The Eves

It is 1963, and the very first New Year’s Eve that I can remember. I’ve recently turned four, and I am one of a handful of kids sleeping over at the Aronstein’s’ house, where my grandparents are attending a fancy grown-up party. The Aronstein’s have a new dog, a mop of a puppy, who both charms and terrifies me. I am afraid he will bite me. I am afraid of a lot of things: dogs, dragonflies, other children, the dark, and most especially people in wheelchairs or on crutches, because I think the appliances are parts of their bodies and that they are mutants. We kids were sent to sleep hours ago, but we all rallied together and insisted we be woken up just before midnight. So here we all are, swaying sleepily in our pajamas, in what seems like an enormous room full of hundreds of people, though surely it was a normal-sized house and there were, at best, a couple dozen guests. I am tall for my age, but all I can see is a sea of asses—some in dress slacks, some in dresses. Someone thrusts a glass with a tiny amount of champagne in it. I taste it and wrinkle my nose in disgust. The exhaustion. The bitter champagne. The butts. I think to myself that New Year’s Eve is highly overrated and vow never to celebrate it again.

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