01 January 2008

Auld Lang Sinus

Nature’s most perfect food, Champagne
(Does not prevent colds)

I ring in the New Year with a thudding cold that came over me sometime around breakfast. The good news is that it doesn’t seem to be a) a sinus infection or b) related to the monster influenza that Bernard developed more than a week ago. He continues to languish, though his chills and fever mostly subsided over the weekend. I was concerned that he’d contaminate his mother and all the denizens of the nursing home in Royan, but somehow I never quite got around to worrying that I’d be contaminated, too. And I wasn’t.

It is a good time to sit home and do damned little. My New Year’s celebration was solitary and uncommonly quiet: I ate a lavish meal of leftovers, prepared by my own fair hand, watched a movie (Kirikou et la Sorcière) on DVD, drank a little champagne, and went earlyish to bed with E.F. Benson’s indelible Mapp and Lucia. None of the usual round of phone calls and e-mails, year-end wrap-ups and then roaring, staggering parties. I’d only be a wet blanket. Or more precisely a wet handkerchief. Ewwww.

I have never liked New Year’s anyway. The use of the holiday escapes me, most years: it is arbitrary, even for a holiday, and besides, who needs an excuse to drink champagne? Moreover, since I make so many mistakes and have so many regrets, I’m proof that one can look back on the past and forward to the future non-stop, without making a special day for it. The exception was the moment when 2001 turned to 2002. I was at Bob Miller and Jeff Bravo’s apartment, overlooking New York Harbor, with a spectacular view of what was no longer there. As the annus horribilis slipped away, I turned to Feldstein and said, “It’s over!” It was as if a curse had been lifted. Now we could all get on with being happy again.

Divina: Geraldine McEwan as Benson’s Lucia

Here is my New Year’s menu:

Apéritif: Roasted pecans from my godmother (an annual tradition), plus
A little bit of smoked salmon on unpointed toast

Main course: Leftover boeuf bourgignon I made on Sunday, plus

Followed by: Arugula salad, cheese plate

Dessert: a slice of the fig tart I made in Royan

And that is enough. Here’s wishing all of us at least a couple of the things we want in 2008.