"How come," asked Nat, "since nobody keeps New Year's resolutions anyhow, people don't make more interesting ones?"
"Huh?" I asked, with my usual degree of pre-caffeine brilliance. Thank heaven I could see Janelle-the-Waitress swooshing out of the kitchen with a pot of what passes for coffee at the Hog Trough Grill and Feed. After staying up all the way 'til 10:00 on New Year's Eve, I was desperate for it.
"Well," said Nat, tapping his callused old finger on The Hardyvillian's annual incredibly upbeat and mostly misspelled feature on our town citizenry's annual orgy of New Year's promises, "we're all lyin' to ourselves. So why not make 'em lies worth telling?"
I peered across the table at the article, my useless talent for reading upside-down not hindered either by caffeine deprivation or typos. I read aloud: "Bob Murakami" -- that's our Bob-the-Nerd (bet you didn't know he was Japanese) -- "resolves to have a social life in 2004."
Nat and I both shook our heads. Never happen. Not unless PDAs develop personalities or Tux the Linux penguin starts dating guys.
Nat fixed me with The Eye and read from the newspaper, "'Claire Wolfe resolves to be more optimistic.' Uh huh."
"Er ... well ...," I argued, as Janelle finally came to my rescue.
"So Janelle," I asked, "If you could make any resolution, never mind whether you thought you could actually do it ... what'd it be?"
"T' shoot my ex-husband," she grinned cheerily.
An understandable resolution. Bad enough that Ex Mr.Janelle not only ran off with a road-crew flagger and took Janelle's $1,874.32 life savings for beer money. But then he did something really unforgivable. He got a job as a TSA airport screener.
"But I wouldn't put it in the paper, a' course. " Janelle sniffed. "Not until afterwards. Then they'd put it in the paper without askin' me." And off she swooshed.
By this time the usual breakfast crowd was staggering in, and we were soon joined at the big table by Dora-the-Yalie, Carty, Marty Harbibi and a couple of others.
When he found out what we were talking about, Carty just grumbled, "Resolve, hell. If you mean something, just do it and quit talkin' about it. Scorched earth, baby."
"Mmm. You mean like you left the country back when Clinton was still Commander in Heat and Y2K looked like a big deal?" Dora goaded him.
Carty grumbled and picked up a menu. If Mr. True Blue American had ever really meant to go ex-pat, as he insisted back then, a lot of his options had disappeared in the last couple of years. More and more it was looking as if Hardyville itself would be everybody's last stand.
"Nat's right," I said. "If we're going to tell ourselves fancy stories every January 1, at least let's make 'em good ones. Lessee ... I resolve to move into a multi-million dollar missile silo home, stocked with 10 years of survival goods. And if anybody who ever called me a wing-nut begs me to let 'em in as the bio-terror plagues rampage or the bombs are going off, I'll laugh like a mad scientist as I slam the big lead-shielded hatch in their face. How's that?"
"Very humanitarian of you," Dora deadpanned.
"Not bad," Marty agreed. "But I think I'll go the other way and resolve to get somebody out of a hole. I resolve to rout John Ashcroft out of his spider hole and put him on trial for rapin' the Constitution. That'll be for January. More to come in February."
Nat nodded. "Yep. Puttin' Ashcroft on trial'd be about like 20,000 lawyers at the bottom 'a the ocean."
"I've got one," offered Mrs. Nat. "I resolve to get rid of every government school in America."
Good one, everybody agreed. Imagine winning back the minds of 100,000,000 American kids from the gummint, all at once. Whooee.
"Dora? How 'bout you?"
"I've got two. I resolve to see that Rush Limbaugh gets exactly the same 'justice' he demands for other drug abusers -- then I resolve that he'll Get A Clue and call for an end to the drug war. And I resolve to ensure that at least 1,000 more cities and counties become Civil Rights Safe Zones where the Patriot Act won't be enforced."
Nods all around. Which is pretty unsual, since agreement with Dora is a rare thing in Hardyville.
Bob-the-Nerd walked up just then and offered, "To fry chips. And I don't mean at Mickey D's."
We all thought that was pretty good, too. We were quiet a bit, just thinking about it.
Then the resolutions started coming fast and heavy:
- To tell Michael Jackson to grow up. Real soon.
- To do everything we can to make Rosie O'Donnell's 2004 at least as good as her Broadway flop, lawsuit-and-scandal-wracked 2003 was.
- To buy at least one gun a month in 2004. Un-Brady-ed, of course.
- To make "Innocents Betrayed" an even bigger documentary than "Bowling for Columbine" (since it's already a more factual one).
- And -- especially if we end up on a jury -- never to assume that cops are more truthful or more innocent than accused criminals.
"Hey," Marty pointed out, "We might actually be able to do that last couple. Are we getting off track, or what?"
We all agreed it would be a strange thing if our most hopeful resolutions ever saw the light of reality. But maybe, just maybe ...
"I changed my mind," said Janelle, coming back with more coffee. "I resolve to run off to Tahiti with Brad Pitt."
"I'll resolve to spend the year having a mad affair with Aamir Khan," Dora sighed, being the kind of girl who watches too many obscure foreign films on DVD.
"Francisco D'Anconia for me," I nodded. (I've been secretly in love with Ayn Rand's rejected best-ever hero since I was 19. Might as well dream big.)
Carty added, "Nude posters of Condi Rice in every locker room."
"Sexist!" Dora growled.
"Damn straight!" Carty barked, as Nat and Marty raised their coffee cups in a toast. "Sexist white male and proud. And you want to hear some real resolutions?
"I resolve to be intolerant of every kind of phony hate-disguised-as 'toleration.'
"I resolve to be prejudiced against everybody who's prejudiced against my right to think whatever I want to think.
"I resolve to be insensitive to everybody who thinks their delicate little feelings oughta be protected against all the knocks of the tough old world.
"And on top of that I resolve to practice 'gun violence' against anybody who tries to disarm me and my pals in 2004 or any other year.
"And those are resolutions you damn betcha I'll keep."