Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here's to the Uh-ohs

New Year’s Eve. A time to think about the past year and all the things that happened, and all your plans for the next year, and Ohio State’s chances of winning the Rose Bowl, and why New Year’s Eve TV programming has sucked ever since Guy Lombardo’s orchestra disbanded, and….

Enough. Why do we even celebrate the New Year when we do? It’s of no astronomical significance (the winter solstice is already past). My research indicates that it marks the installation of two Roman consuls in 153 B.C. Such is the reason why millions of people get plastered. Let’s hear it for those Roman consuls!

Still, I guess we have to mark the time somehow and why not now? This year is special because it marks (at least in the public eye) the end of a decade. (And, yes, I know it’s technically not a new decade until next year. Spare me your pedantry.) A decade with no name. Nobody came up with a really good name for this decade, a la “the ‘50s, the ‘60s,” etc. “The Aughts” isn’t bad. I hate “The Noughties.” It sounds like something they sell at Victoria’s Secret. And besides, the decade wasn’t especially naughty. Remember that an exposed breast nearly caused the Apocalypse at the Super Bowl not so long ago.

This decade’s lack of a name is appropriate, because there’s not much about this decade that’s memorable, except 9/11 and the election of President Obama. Seriously. Every other decade had some things that defined it. The ‘50s gave us rock ‘n roll. The ‘60s gave us antiwar protests. The ‘70s gave us really ugly clothes. The ‘00s (would you say that “uh-ohs”?) gave us…what? An increase in blogs and social networking. That’s about all you can say for it. “Seinfeld” was a ‘90s TV show, but you could call the Uh-ohs “The Seinfeld Decade”—because it was a decade about nothing.

Not that it was bad for me on a personal level. During the Uh-ohs (I like that name better already), I made a lot of new friends through Mensa, met my wonderful wife, moved to a new city and found a great new life. The Uh-ohs left me far better than they found me. Maybe that’s why it seems like a decade about nothing to me. Maybe I’m just too busy to immerse myself in pop culture as much as I used to.

Perhaps the decade is just too recent for us to step back and define it. At the end of the ‘80s, I couldn’t find anything that stood out in my mind about the decade except Reagan, greed, and the ubiquitous presence of Phil Collins on the radio. But in retrospect, it has its own nostalgic niche—mainly among people who are too young to actually remember it.

So maybe it will be up to the pop culture historians 10 or 20 years hence to look back at the Uh-ohs and name the things that will give it a name. In the meantime, let’s have the best 2010 we can and give ourselves something that we can feel truly nostalgic about someday.

1 comment:

Nancy Heller said...

Why is the new year celebrated January 1? 7 days after Jesus's birth - it would have been his bris, naturally! At least, that's my mom's theory, and she's sticking with it.

Happy New Year!