Ah, New Year’s, that time of the year when regret is high, commitments are low and we all promise to get our crap together for next year starting right after the fudge is gone. I’ve always had mixed emotions about New Year’s Eve, but then again, any holiday with expectations of greatness (Valentine’s Day, I’m looking at you) gives me pause. In my 40 plus years, I’ve only one or two fab New Year’s Eves and those were so fab I barely remember them. One thing remains consistent though and that is that I’m usually more than ready to usher out the old and ring in the new. This year, it is with great pleasure that I kick 2015 to the curb.
My New Years’ traditions are pretty simple. As a people, we’re homebodies and that coupled with my general dislike of humanity currently, means we celebrate at home. I bust out a big, multi-course Turkish dinner to prove to the Turk I still got it. I then allow my offspring to stay up late, but not late enough to cause Armageddon the next day, and promptly fall asleep on the sofa while pretending to have a “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” Exciting, I know.
But I do have one rather unorthodox New Year’s tradition. I like to look up all the famous people who died and connect them to my life. Self-centered? Uh, yes, but we do live in the selfie era. Morbid? Perhaps, but my mother married a mortician during my formative years and I spent copious time in the funeral biz so my approach to death is a bit off.
Because you’re likely more sane than I and haven’t been trolling obits, here are a few biggies I’d like to share with you. Highlights, if you will.
Omar Sharif – Actor. Omar wasn’t a Turk but he played one from time to time. My Gramma Dink had a thing for Mr. Sharif and since we watched a lot of trashy movies when she babysat, I developed a thing for him too. I credit this with my eventual attraction to The Turk. So since Omar Sharif is responsible for my love of the dark and hairy and I went on to marry dark and hairy, to you Omar, I say, thank you.
Jackie Collins – Writer: The afore mentioned Gramma Dink was also a huge fan of smut lit and Ms. Collins is the queen of that genre. As a kid, I used to sneak off with a few of these masterpieces when Dink wasn’t looking and man, did I learn a few things. (Ok, at 9, I totally thought a burning loin was an overcooked roast, but by 14 I was like, “Oh, my.”) Jackie Collins made me an avid reader at a young age with a continued secret fondness for the trashy. Rest in peace you dirty bird.
Colleen McCollough – Writer: There are many great books I recall from my childhood but none so memorable as Colleen McCollough’s The Thorn Birds. Though only 10 when I read it cover to cover, I had enough life experience to understand it was a moment in trashy literature greatness. Her twisted tale of forbidden love and the priesthood was not only a page-turner, but also a magnificent 1983 mini-series. I’ll give you one guess who let me watch that – you know it, Gramma Dink. Years later, I still credit my knowledge of Catholicism to that 3-night cinematic event. Colleen, they just don’t write them like that anymore.
Wayne Dyer – Self-Help Guru: Back in my early 30’s I was into that whole self-help thing as I strived to be a better human being. I read a lot of Wayne Dyer but once I hit 40 I promptly gave that self-betterment nonsense up. Instead I adopted, “What you see is what you get – if you don’t like it, suck it.” as a mantra. You gave it a good try Dr. Wayne but clearly, I’m not the enlightened type.
Wes Craven – Director: In 9th grade I watched Nightmare on Elm Street. I nearly peed my pants and didn’t sleep for a week. I’ve never watched another horror movie since. Rest in peace Wes Craven, you sick bastard.
James Best – Actor: For the love of God people, Roscoe P. Coltrane is dead. How did this happen and why am I only learning this now? Roscoe, next to Boss Hog, you were my reason for tuning in to the Dukes of Hazzard every single Friday. You will be missed. Ku-ku-kuuuuu.
Sure there are other important dead people, like Al from Happy Days, Ellie Mae Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies and everybody’s favorite father of 8, Dick Van Patten (Though full disclosure, I always thought you moved on to that new wife a little too quickly Mr. Bradford.) It’s also important to note that Spock passed on, and Little Jimmy Dickens (One of my dad’s all-time faves.). The loss of writer Terry Prachett and sports broadcasters Stewart Scott and Frank Gifford (aka, Mr. Kathi Lee) also deserve note.
But here’s a big one that rocked my world. Did you know Donald Featherstone died this year? No? I know, right! Me either. Wait. What’s that? Donald who you ask? * sigh * Clearly you’ve no appreciation for fine America art. Mr. Donald Featherstone was the genius that invented the pink lawn flamingo, an item I owned at least a dozen of over the years. Donald, your contribution to our world was great and it shall live on forever, (and not just because it was made of indestructible pink plastic.)
There are so many more but I’ll stop there because as my Gramma Dink would say, “You don’t need to put all of your crazy on display.” So from my little corner of the interwebs to yours, here’s wishing you the best in 2016! It’s a new start, let your freak flag fly!