01 January 2008

New Year's Day

I was awakened at 7:40 this morning by the tinkling of my crystal dinner bell.

The son wanted to watch the Rose Parade, and he was tired of waiting for the spouse and me to get up.

He seems to be recovering nicely, but remains largely immobile, and it still falls to me to shift him from one venue to another.

I dreamed, vaguely, of returning to bed once I got him out on the couch, but by the time I got him off the bed and onto the crutches, and off the crutches and onto the couch, and the pillows we're using to keep his leg up in the air had been moved from his bed to the couch and the TV remote had been located, and I'd fed him and given him his pills, the parade had already started, so I gave up the idea of more sleep and turned on the coffee instead.

I don't generally watch the parade, although the family will shout out that I need to look at this float right now! I lived in and around the Pasadena area for 17 years, and so have more than a passing acquaintance with the whole affair. The Big Entertainment Company that I worked for sponsored a float one year (and expected us to decorate it), our various alma maters have sponsored floats (and expected us to decorate them), our little Affluent Suburb put one together under the 210 Freeway every year (and asked us to decorate it), and between December 31 and the first few days of January, you couldn't go anywhere without getting stuck behind a float trundling along one of the roads, either on its way to be parked on Orange Grove or on its way to Victory Park where everyone can look at the floats after the parade or on its way home to be turned into potpourri. Then, of course, there was the year I lived on the parade route, and you just couldn't go anywhere for 48 hours unless you wanted to plow through the half million people sitting in your driveway.

It was always eerie when the B-2 bomber flew over our little Affluent Suburb house en route to the parade or the Rose Bowl. It came over with a hiss and low rumble, sounding more spaceship than plane. The F/A-18s never fazed me. I know those guys.

I've only actually gone to the parade once, discounting the year it was at my apartment. We were invited to a viewing party in an office building overlooking Colorado Boulevard in 2003, the year that Mr. Rogers, Bill Cosby and Art Linkletter served as Grand Marshals. I held the daughter up on the balcony where she waved and yelled, "HI, MR ROGERS!" Bittersweet, as it was his last public appearance. The spouse, of course, missed the whole affair, holed up at his parents' house, shaking with what I was sure was malaria or dengue fever. He'd just returned from a messy job in Venezuela, and was back on tropical disease watch (yes, I am the only person I know who has a doctor who specializes in travel medicine on speed dial, but that's what happens when you marry a guy who goes on company-sponsored camping trips on the India-Pakistan border, and brings home ticks in his luggage).

In a weird way, though, it was the Rose Parade that started the inexplicable process that ultimately brought the spouse and I together.

We knew each other at college, mostly through the auspices of mutual friends. We didn't like each other. I looked at him and saw blonde Newport Beach rich kid. My crime in his eyes was much worse, though. I sat in front of him in an advanced Shakespeare class, "and you knew all the answers! And the professor liked you! And you didn't care!" he exclaimed when we started dating.

But that particular New Year's Eve, our friend RK had a party, to which I was dragged against my will at about 11:30 that night. We were to go out and watch as the floats were parked along Orange Grove in preparation for the morning's festivities. I remember walking into RK's condo and groaning inwardly when I saw that blonde guy sitting there. "You remember P., don't you?" RK grinned.

Later, I looked over where the blonde guy was sitting, and thought, "Well, he is kind of cute...even if he is blonde."

Now, years later, sitting with our son, that blonde guy yells, "Hey, you've got to see this float!"

Go listen to some good music: "New Year's Day" from the album War by U2.

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