Jason Davis: New Year’s Eve not all it’s cracked up to be

Dec. 30, 2013 @ 12:05 AM

With New Year’s Eve just two days away, my thoughts have been drifting to past New Year’s Eve celebrations and where I was each year when the clock struck midnight and New York’s big ball fell.

You know what? I can’t remember more than one or two. And before you say it, no, holiday cocktails are not a factor in my hazy memories.

For one thing, I’ve never really been a big fan of New Year’s Eve. The presents are already opened, the carols have already sung and the Christmas decorations have lost their charm, if they haven’t already been taken down. 

New Year’s has always been an afterthought. The third-place holiday in the big holiday season trifecta. If it wasn’t for a good day of college football, it would be a useless holiday for me.

Even during my college fraternity days, it wasn’t too appealing. Lots of people drinking too much, singing too loud and staying up too late. 

In fact, the only real memory I have of a fun New Year’s Eve was Dec. 31, 1999, and that’s more because of the wild fantasies everyone was spewing about the dawning of a new millennium.

Always fans of sci-fi and disaster movies, my fellow nerds and I had already mapped out in our heads exactly what we’d do if the “Y2K bug” caused catastrophe. 

While I never actually took any steps to ensure my on-going survival in the face of the inevitible doom, I did know some folks that went overboard.

Working a part-time job in hardware at a Sears store to keep me in food and an apartment in Cookeville, I’d seen a huge run on generators in the months preceeding the big day. Even little old ladies were getting in on the action, hauling five horsepower Craftsman models out of the store in droves. After all, what if the power was the first thing to go after the clock hit 12 o’clock?

Others stocked up on bottled or jugged water, old military MREs or pantries full of canned goods. Some people even filled their bathtubs — you know, just in case. Hopefully they had the good sense to clean them first.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, an estimated $300 billion was spent — almost half in the United States — to ready computers and software to be “Y2K-compliant.”

Being in middle Tennessee and the Central Time Zone, my friends and I were an hour behind the east coast, meaning zero-hour for us would be 11 p.m.

Our party would know early if civilization would perish, or go on unchanged, all thanks to Dick Clark and the Times Square celebration.

As it turned out, Y2K proved to be little more than hype and marketing — nothing more than millions of “Y2K Compliant” stickers and a few fortunes made on mail-order survival kits.

As the countdown from 10 reached zero, New York’s ball dropped and everything went off without a hitch.

I could almost sense a little bit a disappointment in our house full of young adults.

Having spent a decade living through Hollywood’s disaster movie era (Armageddon, Deep Impact, Dante’s Peak, Twister, Volcano, Hard Rain, etc.) it felt like many of my peers were ready for some real action.

I was not.

With Prince’s “1999” blaring in the background, I made another trip through the empty buffet line and considered the week ahead, which was sure to be tough.

Working as a commission salesperson at Sears, I knew all those little old ladies would bring their generators back. For each one returned, I’d basically lose $20-25 of commission I’d already been paid. 

On the bright side, at least no one had to drink from a bathtub.