Jan 2, 2006

At the count down

The camera panned over the Times Square crowd, over excited, jumping up and down all of them clambering for the dropping ball, all of them holding long and skinny red balloons like they were waiting for the clowns to come out and tie off a series of animals. It must be a really incredible view from there, the newscaster said, and the camera came in for a close-up of her face.

The three of us laughed at that, sitting on the couch in a bare beige room, the blue light lighting up the 12 green Heineken bottles laying on their sides on the carpet.

How come they all have balloons? I said.

The people cheered and kissed and waved and stuck out their tongues, mugging for the black eye of the camera moving down the barricade. The newscaster walked along backwards, facing the camera and the camera man, stretching out her microphone hand to the audience, the crowd. Do you have any New Year's Resolutions? she said. Six times she said it and the people answered - for posterity, for the nation and the fame, for the reality and live broadcast and the audience back home watching from their living rooms. They said TV things. Six times they answered that this next year they wanted, that what they really wanted was to be better people. Wanted to be better looking and better paid, to have better health and better love and better families.

Moving down the grinning crowd's line she said Do you have any New Year's Resolutions? and at the seventh question, without a cue, a man swept off his fuzzy crooked top hat and held it's fuzzy stripes over his heart, positioned to take an oath, and knelt down on one knee to the girl next to him and said will you marry me?

The camera blinked a green light live. The newscaster laughed and touched her hair. The girl looked at him, like maybe she didn't know who he was. Shaking her head a little, saying nothing. He raised his eyebrows, widening his eyes.

On live TV! said the guy next to me and I wondered what that meant. Was it worse to be rejected on TV, to be looked at like that, like to you're crazy and an embarrassment and should have seen the signals?

The lights were on, the circus was going in full happy-riot swing and everything moved except his face, frozen in pleading.

The newscaster made a desperate face and the station cut to a whites-wearing sailor happy in mid kiss. A giant Diet Coke bottle flashed 12 times on the reader board. That's sooo tacky, the girl said, at the end of the couch rolling a bottle back and forth with her shoe. I want my proposal to be... the girl said, but I didn't hear how except the word sunset, because the crowd was yelling now.


How come, you think, I said, they're all wearing those goofy hats?