The location of the annual New Year’s Eve Party had been in an established rotation for more years than they could count. A neighborhood tradition, eight families, each one taking their turn as hosts. Once every eight years it was Jimmy and Ellen Thomson’s turn. Always they followed John and Susan Berryman and preceded Marty and Ronnie Stansfield. The tradition, which began before any of them had children, had continued for more than two decades, kids mostly grown now and off to college. And every year, the party grew more elaborate, old friends celebrating the passage of time, but really, celebrating the feeling of belonging somewhere, having found, in this otherwise unexceptional suburban community, their very own piece of the universe.
It was Jimmy and Ellen’s turn to host and they wanted everything to be perfect as they said goodbye to 2007 and welcomed in the New Year together with their closest friends in all the world.
As the neighborhood began to arrive, friends spread out through-out the house, enjoying the music, the food, the company, the camaraderie, the conversation. As midnight approached, someone turned on the television. It was corny, but they always watched the ball drop. And somewhere along the way, they had developed an incredibly cheesy New Year’s tradition. As midnight approached, the current host (in this case Jimmy) was supposed to slip into a Father Time get-up, the white robe, beard, scythe, and a sash emblazoned 2007. If that wasn’t tacky enough, the following year’s host (big Marty Stansfield) put on an enormous white diaper, baby 2008. It was humiliating enough before digital cameras and YouTube, but still, they held onto the tradition.
They held onto the tradition, and just before midnight, Marty walked out from the guest bedroom, holding on not just to tradition, but to his extraordinary diaper which seemed perpetually in danger of falling off.
Everyone was laughing at Marty, but the laughter was gentle, everyone mindful that their own turn would come again soon.
Ellen called to Jimmy in the master bedroom to hurry on out or he’d miss it. The ball was starting to drop, but Old Man 2007 had not made his final appearance.
Ten… Nine… Eight… Everyone counted along with the tv.
“Hurry up Jimmy,” Ellen yelled through the closed bedroom door.
Ellen pulled on the door knob, but Jimmy like his privacy. The door was locked.
By now, everyone was standing in the hallway yelling for Jimmy to get his ass out there.
Holding his diaper up with one hand, big Marty Stansfield, placed his not inconsiderable bulk up against the door and pushed until it buckled.
Marty barreled into the room, nearly falling over Jimmy, in white robe and beard, still clutching the scythe. The sash, emblazoned 2007 pulled tight around his throat, Jimmy was dead on the bedroom floor.
“Good-bye my friend,” Marty mumbled. “You were a good year.”