There’s some confusion about whether to treat this December 31 as the end of the naughties decade or whether it should properly be next year. Most people seem to be treating this one as the end of the decade, but there’s enough sense in the argument that 01 is the first year of a decade and 10 the last, to dilute their confidence. The result is that there don’t seem to be that many wild and decadent party plans. Many seem to revolve around heaters and blankets and hot chocolate or wine.
Either way, 2009 hasn’t been good to many people I know. They’ve lost parents, significant others, jobs, and—since my cohort is now at the stage of life where catching up is increasing a matter of exchanging lists of current and incipient ailments—health. I don’t see why I should have to listen to this litany of complaints and not you, so here’s an example.
A friend of mine had a pinched nerve in his elbow; three weeks before his scheduled surgery he twisted his ankle and had to wait to recover; not only has his elbow trouble left two fingers in his hand numb, but he also has pain in six joints which may well be a vitamin D deficiency resulting from his incomprehensible decision to live in sunless London, and he now has to take supplementary pills because, being a typical male, he’s frightened of the injections; and so, while in Delhi for his year-end vacation, he has doctor’s orders to sit in the sun for at least an hour a day without sunscreen.
And he’s younger than I am.
At least we’re still able to laugh sheepishly about all this oncoming debility. The day is not far when we’ll be having these conversations with deadly seriousness, incontinent and dribbling in our wheelchairs; but by then I hope to have wheedled, bribed and manipulated my niece and nephew into thinking it’s their duty to change my diapers and wipe the drool from my trembling lips and turn up my hearing aid before playing Leonard Cohen’s sunnier tunes—all two of them—for me.
No, that’s a lie, not to mention impractical, because my woefully inadequate capacity to bribe has been further eroded by the global meltdown and my niece and nephew can sidle out of it on grounds of plausible deniability because I will have no idea who they are.
What I actually intend to do is entrust a friend to shoot me between the eyes the moment I’m incapacitated. (The person I entrusted wanted to know whether he could toy with the moment, like get ready to shoot but then suddenly put it off by five or ten minutes. With friends like these who needs Doctor Death?)
But why be morbid? For my part, I’ve had a good year, despite breaking my ankle in July. I travelled a bit—including, most recently, to the Maldives, which I’m glad I saw before the islands go glug glug, met nice people, and read some excellent books. But the crowning achievement of 2009 has been to return to myself, centred, peaceful and, if I may be allowed to stick my neck out a little while knocking furiously on wood, happy.
Life being what it is, that’s probably a sign that I should brace for a good sock in the jaw in 2010, but, since I’m relaxed and softened up, I’m more likely to just roll with the punches with a retarded grin on my face. Who knows, it might even prove to be a perfectly nice year.